It easy to get nostalgic around the holidays. As I write this, I am in the Northeast at holiday time which brings back memories of an earlier era, 25 years ago, when I first thought about production workflows in a quick copy shop, PostScript service bureau and the prepress department of a printer. While many things have changed in the last two decades, one thing that never changes is the importance of your workflow.

Fortunately, it’s easier to improve your workflow today. Workflow innovation in those days was not based on commercially available tools but instead on AppleScript and PostScript coding. In addition, “back in the day”, training in electronic production was hard to find and limited to schools such as Electronic Directions and support came from groups such as NYPPUG (New York Professional PostScript Users Group). Today, hardware and software suppliers offer training and you can build automated workflows with off-the shelf-software such as Web-to-print, Print MIS, color management, and PDF workflow tools.

The challenge for some companies is to determine where to focus their workflow attention to get the best “bang for their buck.” If you’re unsure about that, I have a suggestion. Go to your local bookstore or visit Amazon.com and order the book The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Goldratt and Cox.

For many people it stimulates a reexamination of their own workflow with a greater appreciation for what the book calls bottlenecks and what our industry refers to as: quality control issues, rework, pain points, as well as delays from inspections or approvals. If you read The Goal I hope that you find it enjoyable. In my opinion it is the best book ever written about workflow and it is a fun and quick read. For other ideas about workflow for in-plants, visit RSA’s white papers page.

Warm wishes and happy holidays to all!