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News & Press: General Announcements

BISG Publishes Workflow White Paper

Friday, September 13, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Maya Fakundiny

Workflows make or break businesses across the book industry supply chain. In 2019, BISG created its Workflow Committee to investigate publishing industry workflows in depth. The result of this new committee's hard work and dedication, a white paper entitled Fixing the Flux: Challenges and Opportunities in Publishing Workflows, is now available for download from the BISG web site.

Sponsored by the Copyright Clearance Center, this report provides an industry definition of workflow, including an explanation of its three core components: process, technology or tools, and organizational structure (people). The paper then delves into best practices to consider when working to update or improve book publishing workflows. Complete with visuals and graphics, this essential industry resource will inform and strengthen the businesses of readers across the supply chain.

The paper was developed in response to committee-identified workflow challenges. These challenges are summarized in the white paper's opening section:

  • Publishing as a skill set is largely learned on the job. There is no defined best practice for similar functions or activities across the industry or even within companies. 

  • Increasingly, people move between companies and segments. Without a defined set of best practices, each environment presents new approaches and challenges.

  • In publishing, there are reference books such as “Chicago Manual of Style,” but no industry-wide procedure manual. Across the supply chain, and often even within companies, there is no consistent or documented workflow.

  • As parts of the industry have consolidated, differences among companies have forced acquiring firms to dedicate resources and time toward aligning the operations of acquired companies.

  • Standardized or improved workflows, both within an organization and across the industry, offer opportunities to enhance productivity and product quality, generate better reporting and analytics, and automate parts of how we work.

In defining best practices, Fixing the Flux describes approaches for addressing the workflow challenges that underpin the most pressing problems in book publishing. In framing the white paper, Andy Robinson of Copyright Clearance Center remarks that workflows must adjust to digital processes. Additionally, he writes,

"Technology can be a way to reduce costs and drive efficiency, but it is only one leg of the stool — without an eager team of people and dynamic workflow processes, the potential of innovative technology will not be realized."

This white paper provides the industry with ways to examine both small (departmental or company-specific) and large (cross-segment or pan-industry) workflows. It offers clear best practices for improving workflows and advice on implementing solutions. This foundational report provides book publishing with tools that will help it continue to compete with other industries and meet market needs.

BISG will follow up on this white paper with a summary of tools and resources specific to workflow analysis and improvement. In 2020, the committee will develop workflow maps that reflect the current state of the supply chain. It will also identify projects that could improve industry value or effective, working with BISG membership to plan timelines and deliverables for the most promising projects.

The white paper, which can be downloaded now, is made available to both members and non-members without charge, as long as you have an account with BISG.


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