Joined-up thinking for workflows

Chris Jordan
Monday, April 16, 2007

The following is an example of how a joined-up workflow can be used to successfully manage the production of complex, cross-media marketing materials, and remain flexible and simple to use.

GSPC Print and Design acts as print service provider for 250 conveyancing solicitors in Glasgow. Because of the way properties are bought and sold in Scotland, these solicitors perform a number of functions that are handled by estate agents in the rest of the UK.

The firm faced two challenges. Firstly, it was required to automate the production of property marketing documents from supplied text and pictures, including automatically profiling and correcting, and naming and storing the images. Secondly, it had to give the solicitors’ property managers the ability to produce and update documents through a web-based system.

It was also vital that the printed and electronic versions were synchronised to ensure any changes in price or other details were consistent.

In the past, content was supplied as text files and digital images. The photographs had to be sharpened in Photoshop and then the text and images were imported into QuarkXPress and a PDF created for proofing before finally being output for print.

On average, each document uses four pictures and the solicitors were required to supply three versions of each one, bringing the total number of images to be processed each week to around 12,000.

The production process was repetitive, time-intensive and prone to errors and had to be performed by a skilled operator. Any edits, last-minute changes or additions had to be done in the same way, further complicating the process.

The new system, which is very simple to use, enables the solicitor’s property manager to create a new property file or amend an existing one online with a web browser. It incorporates an online photo archive, allowing users to upload the photographs for each property and then select their position in the document.

The system then automatically populates the template with images and text from the property file, placing the pictures in a order specified in the photo album. Further adjustments can then be made to the content, allowing the user to select images and change text at will. A PDF is then generated for proofing and approval. The document is then printed digitally, according to the customer format requirements, on a Xerox iGen 3 or a Xeikon 5000.

The joined-up automated workflow enables a property manager at any one of the 250 solicitors to update the GSPC website easily and quickly from their desks. This means that many of the jobs that were done by skilled production staff, taking around 20 minutes for each new property or amendment, are now done in five minutes by an unskilled operator.

The system that GSPC Print and Design has implemented has obviously more than achieved its objective of automating many time-consuming repetitive processes, while at the same time giving the solicitors’ property managers far more control over the process, from first draft to final published document.

TWO-MINUTE TAKEAWAY ON SYSTEM COMPONENTS AND INTEGRATION
• At the heart of the system is ROI’s Xralle e-procurement and web enablement software, which acts as the user-interface and job management controller. It enables the integration of the other software to provide a complete solution
• Fotoware’s Colour Factory is used to carry out many file tasks and for receiving and adjusting images. Distribution Manager, also from Fotoware, is used for FTP file transfer
• Pageflex’s .Edit is integrated into Xralle allowing template creation which permits users to populate templates with images and text
• MediaBank Enterprise from Wave is used to store and manage all the images. A Microsoft SQL database tracks and records everything
• As with many complex multi-product systems, integration took longer than expected to implement. However, GSPC now has a fully automated system, built to meet clients’ requirements that will enable it to be very competitive and to grow
• GSPC has recently been given a PODi award for innovation

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