Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking the Laws of Physics or Meeting Impossible Deadlines

I was recently reading a post from Liz Resko in the LinkedIn Studio and Print Production Manager's group (ASPMLINK). It was about what a Studio Manager can do to enforce deadlines. All the comments, from the really complacent ones which saw it as the norm for the Studio to not get enough time, to the process-oriented opinions, missed the point, until Liz intervened again and explained she was not referring to her own unit, but instead to other departments "dropping the ball" and putting the burden on the Studio.

It was very interesting to notice that many of the good suggestions focused on improving communication at all levels, from developing good relationships between departments (internal) and between Studio and Vendors (external).

In Print Production it is very important for the Studio to have close communication with the Producers, briefing on big projects and launches; a robust process and workflow supported by high-end technology (Dalim Twist and Xinet); Monday Status meetings, and CSR-quality relationship with Pubs and Vendors. There is so much control in your hands when dealing with print production, you know exactly what to expect because everything has been previously scheduled, and having Print Producers that know how to manage their projects (upstream, creatives and account) is an absolute godsend.

On the other hand, the Creative Development process is a bit more complicated. This is where you find the personal-agenda kind of deadlines ("My friends are waiting for me at the Pub"); the "I forgot to send you the new copy" (Really?! Just if they're honest enough to admit it), or the classic "The creatives are still working on the files." And instead of bringing the material on time, it comes to the Studio an hour after, and to top it off, the requester asks you candidly if they can make FedEx or have everything ready for their 8:30 AM presentation, after we've already discussed how much time the Studio needs for turnaround. It is as if the Studio can break the laws of Physics and expand time and space at our will.

In conclusion, it is everyone's responsibility to make sure deadlines are met. We all must be aware of the consequences of missing an ad insertion or not sending a PDF to the client on time; there should be accountability in every step of the process. In a nutshell, communication is the key to accomplishing a smooth operation between departments and like my ex-boss used to say, "First we need to fix our own problems. We need to be 'buttoned-up' before we can demand or complain about another unit's problems."


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Ernie Arias