Process Improvement at an International Publishing House2 March 2023
After a broader organizational restructuring in a multinational publishing company, merging the Dutch and the Belgian entities into a BeNeLux entity, a more profound alignment was needed on the different work processes and roles.
New roles: Publishers and Editorial Product Coordinators
In this context, the historical Belgian “editor” title and its related tasks had been split according to the Dutch model into two distinct roles. The strategic and high-level tasks had been assigned to the “publishers”, whereas the technical and operational tasks had been assigned to the “editorial product coordinators”.
This situation started the company’s search for a project manager / expert in change management and stakeholder management. The main tasks were to capture the technical knowledge of the experienced staff members before being able to optimize and streamline their processes.
This project took place in the Content Unit of the BeNeLux entity. This unit manages the entire publishing process, from the author’s choice until the final product’s revision.
The importance of a clear scope and communication
The role of the project consultant, Andrew Watticant, was to be a catalyst for process improvement. At the beginning, very good communication with the project sponsor was needed to agree on a clear and well-defined scope before misunderstandings could grow into failed expectations. Bringing people together and actively listening to them were the essentials in creating a synthesized solution that everyone could align on.
Also, the stakeholder management was a sensitive point in the broader restructuring context of the department.
Creating a high “buy-in” among the stakeholders was definitely a key success factor.
Andrew Watticant, Project Consultant, CFO Services
Capturing the specificities of each process was a complex task, especially when dealing with processes that had grown organically and had been developed based on the experience and intuition of their owners for many years. Once these old processes were captured correctly, they were optimized and matched with the correct (new) stakeholders.
A catalyst for process improvement
The highly motivated and professional consultant brought onto the project was able to provide several solutions, despite the delicate atmosphere in the team. The processes for the online products of the different platforms were mapped and optimized. This resulted in the following improvements:
- Outsourcing opportunities were identified and applied where possible, reducing the overall maintenance costs of the online products
- Acceleration of the online publishing cycle, reducing the time spent by the editorial product coordinator on the product
- Standardization of the processes was reached where possible in order to facilitate potential (temporary) product handovers
- Strengthening of feedback loops for relevant stakeholders
Knowledge sharing enabled the stakeholders to collaborate more efficiently. A higher awareness of the different processes was raised among the different stakeholders, leading to a better understanding of the links between the products.