communication

Risk analysis

The successful development of a project largely depends on Risk analysis which helps to adopt a systematic approach in managing risks and uncertainty associated to the project. If you know the problem chances are that you’ll make sure to avoid it: this is why performing a Risk analysis is so crucial. Every project contains a certain level or magnitude of risks, therefore it is vital to keep all project stakeholders well informed about them and about what will be done in order to mitigate these risks at an acceptable level. The risk is the measure of the probability of an event and the costs associated with not achieving an expected purpose. There is a failure of a project with any combination of the three following ways: performance, costs and schedule. 1. The product or service does not meet expected performance levels 2. The current costs are higher than those budgeted 3. The delivery or timing is too late Risk analysis is part of a larger methodology which is the risk management that has an inclusive process of dealing with risks. The risk management plan is a smart way to guide the risk management process and to document its results. The followings are the steps of a risk management process: IDENTIFY: identify risks before they become a problem ANALYSE: transform risk data into decision making information PLAN: translate risk information into action TRACK: monitor risk indicators during the life cycle of a project CONTROL: adjust deviations from what was planned MITIGATE: reduce the impact of any unforseen event COMMUNICATE: the key factor for a successful risk management program. Never stop providing visibility and feedback data internal and external to project activities. Hosted by imgur.com

Nearly ten years of Job Definition Format (JDF)

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To optimize production processes in a very complex market sector with so many variables and with a very high risk of process redundancies. That’s why nearly ten years ago the Job Definition Format (JDF) was initially thought and created by the CIP4.

At the end of the ’90 the main suppliers of the Graphic Arts global market, with players such as Adobe, Agfa, Heidelberg, Man, Fujitsu, Dalim, HP, KBA, Komori, Mitsubishi, ..., decided to gather together in a Consortium called CIP3. The objective was to give birth to a consortium to study and to develop a new international standard to be shared across the whole industry that should have been able to help the communication between the different components involved at all levels in the production workflow.

During the Drupa 2000, the CIP3 was renamed CIP4 (International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press, and Postpress Organization) and the initial PPF bacame the current JDF. By the way, since 2004 the author is one of the official members of the CIP4 supporting its development and international growth.

After nearly ten years, the JDF has become an international standard adopted in the Graphic Arts industry, based on XML technology which means an open format by its very nature. What did bring all these big global comptetitors players together? It is still a very valid and actual reason: to link or to connect the work of all offices, departments and players of a graphic industry, within a very structured and integrated workflow management system. The very heart of a JDF workflow system is the Management Information System (MIS) which is a shared and centralized solution where all information arrive and from where all information are distributed in real time to the different operational or functional areas of the company: administration, logistic, production, procurement, accountancy, wharehouse. The job ticket becomes a digital file which follows the job, or the project, from start to finish gathering any information throughout the whole production workflow. In this perspective, the JDF is much more than a simple digital job ticket, allowing a constant interactive exchange of information in real time between all functional and operational areas of the company.

Lets deep into the steps for the production of a commercial brochure to “taste” how complex can be the road that brings to life a simple product. The process start with the request for quotation from the customer: the technical office is in charge to evaluate the best possible ratio quality-speed-price. There are in fact many parameters to evaluate: the deadline needed for production, the requested deadline from the customer, the paper format, the paper weight, the number of pages, the kind of paper, the quantity, the number of inks, of special inks, the kind of delivery, the finishing process such as folding, stiching, gluing, cutting, the delivery address, the address of the invoice, and many others.
When the offer is accepted the job ticket gets created and the technical office needs to evaluate whether the stock of paper, of inks is enough for the new order or if new material must be purchased. The working process starts with the reception of the layout file which goes through the DTP department, the repro office where colour corrections will be made, where digital colour proofs will be printed for the “Ready to Print”. The next step is the production of plates with the CTP and the print out of the blue prints. Now is time to print. Beside the paper, the inks, the signed digital colour proofs the operators needs to have a lot of others information with regards to the ink setting on the printing machine so as to better manage the ink flow in every single part of the sheet. When printing is complete, the inks and the paper must dry before being cutted, folded, stiched, glued, packed, ... The very last step is the final delivery to the customer.
At the end of this trip through the production process (which I could have made it much more detailed and much longer) I believe is quite evident how heavy and deep can be the interaction between the different functional and operational areas of the company during the production of a commercial brochure. This is the strategic element of the JDF workflow: to allow the communication of production data and their interactive exchange in real time through all areas of the company. The benefits of the JDF workflow are multiplied in case of repetitive jobs: higher speed of execution, better quality, higher precision and punctuality.

The importance of JDF I think is here and this is why in my opinion we can say that the “founders” of the CIP4 where farsighted when they decided to start the analysis for the creation of the JDF from the bottom of the value chain: the Customer. They knew well that putting the Customer satisfaction at the heart of all company efforts, many others problems would have been solved and successfully overcome.

In conclusion, the main subject taking full advantage from the JDF is still the final Customer who can finally see the jobs executed in less time, with much more precision, more accuracy and basically at the same price. Thanks to the JDF format, to the technology built around it, to the solutions integrating it through the whole production process, the relation with the Customer has become a new element that brings satisfaction, reward and growth within the company.

A new publishing paradigme with HTML5, CSS3, JS and a new communication model

I already published a post about the evolution of the current communication model. With today's new post, I'd like to add a new component to the ever evolving picture of the communication as we know it today. To fully enhance the success of the new Communication 3.0 model and the new paradigme (page elements and contents are detached from the page structure and the page styles) it is of paramount importance to implement a consistent Content Management strategy. Companies today should have a clear and efficient digital content management strategy in place: it’s a powerful leverage that helps to consolidate the business and to increase the competitive edge on the market. The ability to effectively manage and to efficiently deliver content simultaneously on any kind of media and device, is going to be the key factor for success in the new media market.

How a customer oriented vision can help consolidate your competitive edge

The future of the graphic arts, the printing industry, the media services has never been so hard to foreseen. It’s not just about the rapid technology development, the global economy situation, the deep social and cultural changes and many others valid factors. For a number of companies I think there is a factor playing an important role: many of them are simply missing a vision on fundamental strategic issues. Currently the discussion about how long the paper will survive the new technology is very active on online and printed articles, events, round tables. I personally hate this kind of useless discussions which are reminding me something very similar about the “supposed death of paper” when the web exploded some 15 years ago. I believe the challenge here is different: it’s not about how long the paper will survive, but rather how many companies will close down before the paper - lets suppose for one second - will disappear. We will still need paper for a while as we have needed until today, with the exeption of printed newspapers and magazines because news and information have become a new experience which goes beyond the printed page. Starting from a truly customer oriented vision, there are in my opinion few strategic issues that could be helpful to a graphic industry, a printing company or a book or magazine publisher. Lets try to summarize:

  1. Have you adopted a content management strategy which allows effective business processes, optimized efficiency when creating, using and distributing content on every media channel? The content management strategy is a very powerful leverage that fully supports the organization to reach its business objectives.
  2. Have you integrated your production and business workflows within a JDF environment? This can offer the final customer a great product and service experience, while the company can take advantage from the increased efficiency of all its internal processes.
  3. Have you ever considered to start a Lean Six Sigma project? There are many useful tools in this great methodology that help to create a culture of continuous improvement of processes and quality, by eliminating wastes, non value added activities, hidden costs and inefficiencies. Please don’t think about how much a Lean Six Sigma project could cost, but rather how much could be the cost for your company of not doing it.

I hope these three questions can help to trigger useful reflection on how to find a constructive way to consolidate your competitive edge on the market. What do you think? Thank you for your feedback.

Innovation’s basics

While watching this astonishing and spectacular video I was cought by a thought about the basics of true innovation. It may sound odd connecting the stars with the business, but from where I see things, this sensational video shows the heart and soul of innovation. It shows not only that it is possible to watch life from a complete different perspective but that doing so, it's highly rewarding. Besides the fantastic images, in this video I see a great example of the innovation principle: watching things differently allows to open new spaces, to broaden our horizons. This connects to a previous post I published. It was a TED’s video with George Gabor Burt: he was calling us to re-engage our childhood creativity, to re-ignite our imagination if we really want to succeed improving our business and our life. There is one simple way to get there and our children know exactly how to do it: never stop asking “What if?”. “What if ..." I’d try to rotate digitally the frames so as the stars will stay steady and the Earth will move beneath them? It would be an extraordinary effect and above all it would be a new way of looking at the stars and at the sky.” This might have been the thought NikoBustos had before starting to work his video. “What if ...” instead of investing 8-10Million Euro in a new sheet fet offset printing machine, I’d consider something a lot cheaper, but with a shorter and safer return on investment like a new “digital content strategy” to deliver value innovation to my customers with the creation of new services? “What if ...” instead of running crazy with outbound marketing activities at “zero return on investment”, I’d rather concentrate on a new “communication strategy” taking advantage of the social media tools that are available to my kids? “What if ...” instead of running multitasking all day long, wasting a lot of opportunities, don’t we start a Lean Six Sigma project and focus on reducing our wastes and improve our quality so as to offer our customers true value innovation through our products or services? “What if ...” linking thoughts to actions in a more consistent way and doing something simple that most people don’t even bother to think about? Something original and highly innovative like Niko did: to imagine the Earth moving beneath the stars instead of the other ("old") way around. My most admired congratulations to the author of the video: NikoBustos. Thank you for the inspiration.

The next generation of magazines

aside magazine Trailer from aside magazine on Vimeo.

The world's first magazine entirely made with HTML5. Its name is "aside" and the relative web site is asidemag. Such a great and inspiring news which follows the previous post I recently published about the next generation of digital book. HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript: the future of communication and publishing. Free of charge.

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