Pressures on revenues and margins have made many publishers ask themselves if their content workflows can be fine-tuned to “do more with less”.
Unfortunately, an early focus on headcount savings can undermine your chances of actually getting good things done. You can’t improve workflows if the people you need to make them better are thinking that success means a trip to unemployment.
It’s better to ask relevant operational questions, particularly ones like “Is my workflow getting in the way of my overall responsiveness?” Frequently, the answer to that question is a resounding “yes”, but it’s hard to hear if your stated goal still sounds like “doing more with less”.
To break through the clutter, try asking yourself, your colleagues and your staff questions like these:
- Is there anything we wish we could have done – a breaking story, an update to a chapter, a new feature on a core product – that we had to put off because we were out of time?
- Are we getting scooped, beaten to the market or surprised by the competition? Are they able to turn things around faster than us? Do we know why?
- What’s the shortest amount of time between conception and distribution that we can imagine? How does that fit with market expectations?
- If we could start with a blank sheet of paper, what activities would we keep? If we worked with just those core tasks, how much faster could we be?
- What’s keeping us from making this better, simpler workflow a reality?
As a concept, competing on responsiveness – “competing on time” – dates back 25 years or more. The things you’d do to be faster – fewer steps, likely broader roles and responsibilities and greater reliability (fewer errors, little or no rework) – are the same things that ultimately help any publisher increase efficiency.
If you start by focusing on workflow responsiveness, though, you’ll deliver results that improve what you offer customers. Grow the value you can provide and the market is likely to follow. Then, you’ll be doing more, with the time and resources you need to then decide whether you really need to also do it with less.