7 Signs Your Editorial Workflow Could be Wasting Time

February 11, 2015

If we are not missing deadlines, what’s the problem? This is a popular mindset among publishers when it comes to editorial workflow management.

The truth is, there are a lot of old-school workflows in the publishing industry. Often they are accepted as “normal.” Many publishers continue operating with separate processes they could easily consolidate into one harmonious workflow. 

If this is you, take a moment to quantify what you lose when you “get by” with how things have always been done. Today, you have every opportunity to improve it and get immediate results. A modern workflow is efficient, centralizing content where permitted individuals can easily collaborate and from which you can publish it once – and distribute it everywhere at the same time. 

Does your workflow need an edit?

Here are seven signs your editorial workflow is a good candidate for improvements that will save time and cut costs:

  1. Copy and paste from print to digital: Copying and pasting published print articles from the InDesign layout into your CMS is the number one indicator you are wasting time. You shouldn’t have to touch an article more than once after the collaboration and editing phases.
  2. Desktop folders and email: Are articles stored in desktop folders or Google Docs? Are they transmitted among writers and editors by email? Hint: That is more than 20-year-old technology.
  3. Constant last-minute rushes: If you and your team are working too hard at deadlines, you may be experiencing bottlenecks and obstacles to collaboration, or wasting time on routine processes.
  4. Difficult to collaborate: Anything that inhibits your ability to collaborate inhibits your ability to maintain deadlines and do your work well. If there are multiple steps and tools in your workflow process, step back and identify what might be standing in their way.
  5. Post-publishing surprises: If you can’t track when changes happened or why, the editorial chain broke. Same with errors: If you are continually finding mistakes that should have been easy catches, this is likely due to flawed processes.
  6. Management oversight: Is there one place where you can see the status for all publications in real time?
  7.  Digital Editor or Coordinator: Some staff with similar titles add great value. But titles like these can be a sign junior editors are performing functions your technology should be doing for you.

What leads to poor editorial workflow management?

In some cases, publishers maintain an inefficient workflow because they don’t have high expectations for it in the first place. If there is no deadline pain or routine errors, they don’t see a problem with a circuitous workflow in which content is touched multiple times. Others are reluctant to change or expect their staff will be reluctant to change. For many, there’s simply not enough time or resources to dedicate to designing more efficient processes.

Why give your editorial workflow a once-over?

In the grand scheme of things, if your workflow is inefficient, you’ll have reduced editorial output and won’t get maximum value out of your resources. A modern, streamlined workflow allows you to produce more content at higher quality. 

Your team can get more done and dedicate themselves to great work, rather than spending time taking tedious extra steps that don’t add value to the end-product. Each of the seven signs of a poor workflow cost you more than just wasted time and effort. With improvements, not only will you get more great journalism, your team will enjoy the process more.

Invariably a proper 21st-Century workflow includes one central editorial repository for your photos, videos, PDFs and other graphics, acting as a digital asset manager (DAM). This creates an asset of great value and enables more ROI from your content investment. Writers can easily search previous articles and photos on the topic they are working on today, accessing to previous research, reporting and sources that make it easier to put out more and better material.

What does a modern editorial workflow look like?

Simply put, a modern editorial workflow takes the least effort possible to produce excellent output. Everything is available to relevant team members. Those team members can easily collaborate and track changes. Then, once an article is finished, you only have to touch it once and can then use it any way you like – print, on the website or in a newsletter. 

To accomplish this, you need:

  • The cloud: With the cloud, it’s easy to enter, access, manage, edit and collaborate on written content as you need.
  • A modern CMS designed for publishers: Your CMS should enable collaboration. It should also be easy to use and centralize, sort and search your content in one place. It should also enable you to use and sell your content any way you want – and to adapt to new opportunities that might be around the corner. 
  • Access control: Access should be easy to set and limit, allowing you to assign definable roles with specific rights and abilities. 
  • Maximum asset value: Every piece of content has a cost. In a modern workflow, you continually gain value from your editorial assets and view them as permanent, not disposable. 

Where to start if your workflow needs work

Improving your workflow is about delivering better quality content to your readers. It is also about extending the life of that content. If you haven’t revisited your workflow in several years, the time is probably now to take action. 

Take the following steps:

  • Identify whether you recognize any of these six signs and ask yourself why they’re happening.
  • Map your current processes, from idea to distribution, regardless how the reader consumes it.
  • Evaluate what you are capable of doing with the software you have now.
  • If your software does not support one unified workflow, evaluate your options for new software that does support it. 

Are you using separate documents in your editorial workflow? Do staffers experience bottlenecks? After content has been published in one channel, does anyone have to spend time to get it into a newsletter or any other channel? If so, it may be time to at least look at what you’re missing. It may be time to look at a proper, sophisticated, collaborative editorial system that will do more for you. 

See what you’re missing. Get a demo of our solutions for publishers today.