BtoB Media Business - June 2009 - (Page 17)

Production Outsourcing pros and cons Publishers look offshore to cut production costs, but quality issues remain a concern PRESSING ISSUES executives to “walk through the work flow in excruciating detail” and to “approach the transition very slowly.” Reena Russell, CEO of Potion Media, which provides offshore media production services, suggested asking a few questions before signing on with an offshore company: “What are the provider’s credentials? Do they have experience with the same type of work that you will be outsourcing? Do they handle all work in-house with their own staff, or do they further outsource work to other companies or freelancers? “How does the provider handle project management: Do they have some sort of system or do they rely on e-mail, phones, etc.? Does the provider have a U.S. office? How secure and robust are the provider’s facilities? What hardware and software does the provider use? What volume of work does the provider do each day/week/month? Will they provide dedicated staff?” Dedra Smith, president of magazine production consultancy Printmark West, said that while large savings can be attained through outKeith Hammerbeck, corporate director of media sourcing internationally, a publisher operations at Advanstar Communications needs to be careful about any deReed Business Information, for example, has crease in quality and the potential effect on been working with companies in different advertisers. If the work is not handled propcountries for more than five years and con- erly, she said, U.S. workers may have to tinues to ramp up its outsourcing. spend a great deal of time fixing problems. John Blanchard, VP-manufacturing at Smith said one of her clients lost 25% of its Reed, said the company started small, running business due to advertisers not wanting to deal different pilots on similar titles and creating with offshore vendors, being unhappy with scorecards to measure the results. It also made the quality of the work or feeling the practice it clear from the beginning that it wasn’t com- was un-American. That loss of business, mitted to anything beyond a pilot in order to though, was still worth it, she said, because the stave off any pressure from vendors. company enjoyed cost savings of 50%. Blanchard noted that in the early stages, Blanchard said Reed has not received all communication was done via e-mail. “So any comments to the effect that offshoring is we had a written track record of the negotia- anti-American other than the “odd phone tions and the conversations,” he said. He call about a telemarketing call,” he said. Lanadded that working with a vendor that has guage barriers are dealt with by relying some publishing background has been a mainly on the written word, he said. great help. Reed also handles all customer contact, so Roger Burg, VP-operations at Canon advertisers never have to deal directly with Communications, said it is important to outside vendors. “We like to maintain material work with an organization that isn’t using collection, and customer contact and internal you as a beta test. He encourages production business representation,” Blanchard said. BY MARK J. MILLER A s publishers continue to suffer through the downturn, many are turning toward outsourcing production and manufacturing operations to save precious dollars. But how does a media company protect itself in the global marketplace as businesses spring up to meet the rising demand? Some production executives believe there are a limited number of responsibilities that can be outsourced. “I don’t see how you could outsource the true production or manufacturing functions,” said Keith Hammerbeck, corporate director of media operations at Advanstar Communications. He sees the conversion of files to XML, formatting of e-newsletters, image manipulation and page layout as prime candidates for outsourcing. Others see more significant opportunities. “I don’t see how you could outsource the true production or manufacturing functions.” B. Christie, head of product management for the Financial Times’ in London, joined the organization about 2½ years ago, after a stint as head of product development at, the U.K.’s largest property Web site. She’s since been part of the Financial Times’ transformation from a newspaper company to a news organization. Media Business: How has that shift ocBIO curred? M.B. CHRISTIE Christie: Well, it was certainly recogni- Head of product tion from our board management, that it needed to put dollars and energy into moving in this direction. MB: How has that affected your operation? Christie: I’m able to have a team that is devoted to finding the best way to use mobile and online tools. Even if smaller organizations can have people devoted to this part-time, it is a great help toward moving things forward. People from the editorial and advertising sides are always coming to us with ideas on projects they would like to do, and we find ways to use the tools we have and emerging tools to do them most effectively. MB: In the current market, how do you balance devoting time to forward thinking and slamming out daily content? Christie: We continually work on making our work flow and process as efficient as possible, with the idea that the time gained is time that can be applied toward forward thinking and figuring out ways to use the tools we have most effectively for whatever projects are under way. We are continually meeting to redefine project priorities and discuss what tools we can use—whether it is mobile or live conferences, or e-newsletters or anything else—to make —M.J.M. projects more effective. banks on mobile, Web tools M. PRODUCTION | June 2009 | Media Business | 17

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BtoB Media Business - June 2009

BtoB Media Business - June 2009
Publishers Reassess Google AdSense Programs
Amid Cutbacks, Media Firms Are Still Investing
Open-source CMS Advantages Outweigh Problems
Sales & Marketing
The End of B-to-B Media As We Know It?

BtoB Media Business - June 2009