PubPro: Workflow systems and digital shifts

In Short: Workflow Systems for Managing Large Projects with Multiple People

by Megan Brand; discussion led by Eve Rickert

Google Drive: Gantt chart-like workflow spreadsheet, task lists, timelines, and revision histories. Wiki-esque: great for real-time collaboration but not for version control.

Teamwork: More automated than Basecamp and can set up dependencies. Cloud-based with messaging systems and task lists, but time-tracking feature can’t do time estimates for entire projects, just tasks.

Smartsheet: Gantt-based, cloud-based, and allows for multiple contributors. Can send it out to users and assign them to different tasks. Would ideally create a snapshot showing users’ black-out periods. Free up to a certain amount of tabs.

SharePoint: Website document repository using Excel for tracking and MS Project for scheduling. Source documents populate timelines, with Gantt charts and dependency and reporting features, but it’s not user-friendly.

JIRA: Sophisticated code repository and project-management and collaboration tool. Sets up contingencies and updates continuously.

Tom’s Planner: Online Gantt charts for workload management. Fast, easy, and free (except for printing), it shows freelancers’ schedules. Doesn’t require programming like Excel but needs constant management and updating.

 

The Shift to Digital at MEC
by Lana Okerlund; presented by Merran Fahlman

In 2009, MEC (or Mountain Equipment Co-op) published four print catalogues annually and one CSR (corporate social responsibility) report biannually, updated its website monthly and sent emails to customers weekly. Fast-forward to 2014, when 100% of its published content appears in digital-only formats, including the MEC website, a WordPress blog, a journal microsite, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and emails. The company has shifted from centralized to decentralized contributions, and while still relying on a core group of two writers and two editors, as well as freelancers and subject expert contributors, the team now includes a social community manager responsible for content curation and a brand engagement manager to help ensure that all that content upholds the MEC brand.

The company’s publishing environment has changed so much that managing editor Merran Fahlman wonders if her title shouldn’t be altered as well. “I’m more like brand engagement or content strategy manager now than a managing editor,” she said.

The shift to all-digital publishing has come with challenges, Fahlman said, including potentially unbalanced content themes, difficulties with overall planning, hard-to-access tone and style standards and the need for flexible quality standards. On the last point, no one reads tweets, for example. “We edit blog posts and site content, but there’s a whole lot of content that no one reviews,” Fahlman said.

As one PubPro participant pointed out, these challenges are “all about the change from push to pull. All of these issues have to do with loss of control. The customer is ultimately shaping the information, telling us in the moment what is important.” That may be so, but if you’re a managing editor used to editorial checklists and doing all you can to put out (you hope) perfect content, and what you’re now consumed with are Google Analytics, webmaster tools and HootSuite, it’s a brave new digital publishing world indeed.

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