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Automated workflows have become increasingly popular in the publishing industry, allowing for greater efficiency and accuracy in managing and producing content. But what are automated workflows exactly?

In this guide, we share how they work, their benefits, and what considerations publishers should keep in mind when implementing them.

Why do we need Automated Workflows?

As publishing has become more digital and distributed, the need for automated workflows has become increasingly apparent. In the past, publishing processes were often manual and time-consuming, with multiple individuals responsible for various tasks such as editing, design, layout, and distribution. This approach was prone to errors and inconsistencies, which could lead to delays and increased costs.

Automated workflows have solved these problems by streamlining and automating many publishing processes. Tasks that were once manual and time-consuming can now be automated, reducing the risk of errors and allowing more time for creative and strategic work.

How Does an Automated Workflow Work?

An automated workflow involves using software to manage and execute various tasks in a publishing workflow.

A typical automated workflow might involve the following steps:

Each step is defined in advance, with the workflow automatically progressing to the next step once the previous one is complete.

Let’s go through the process:

  1. A publisher receives a final manuscript as a text file.
  2. Someone manually goes through the text file and applies “tags” or “styles” to classify each paragraph, which computers will use to handle the text and apply the design.
  3. This text file is then inputted into the automated workflow—a collection of code or scripts on a server or in the cloud.
  4. These automation scripts turn the text into code (for example, XML or HTML), which makes it even easier for computers to read.
  5. This new code version and a version that contains design instructions are automatically sent to a PDF processor that turns the code into a nicely designed PDF.
  6. While this happens, the scripts also turn the code version into an ebook file (EPUB).
  7. Once this is all done, the automation scripts deliver the final PDF and EPUB files to the original user.
  8. The files are manually reviewed, and any changes are made in the text files before starting the process again.
  9. If no changes are required, the publisher proceeds to the next step—sending out to editors, for example.

The Benefits of Automated Workflows

What to Consider Before Implementing Automated Workflows?

Software selection: Choosing the right software is crucial to the success of an automated workflow. Publishers should consider factors like ease of use, scalability, and integration with other systems.

Workflow design: Designing an effective workflow requires careful planning and consideration of the various steps involved in the publishing process. This is especially important if you have complex workflows.

In-house or outsource: Weigh up the pros and cons of technology investment, staff training and change management when making this decision.

Ongoing maintenance: Automated workflows require ongoing maintenance and support to ensure they function correctly over time.

First Steps to Implementing Automated Workflows in Your Publishing Business.

Moving to automated workflows is a significant change. Access our experience and expertise before you begin.

We can help you decide if it’s right for you, what tasks can be automated, which software suits your needs, and how to design and implement even the most complex of workflows to increase efficiency and improve collaboration, quality and cost.

Contact us today to get started.

Photo by AltumCode on Unsplash

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