Hamilton–Going Digital – No Pain, No Gain

In the case of this printer, going digital meant changing the way the typesetting and stripping/platemaking departments interacted. In fact, it meant merging the two into a single prepress department. You’d have thought this guy was trying to change national boundaries. Members of both departments objected because they needed their own space and couldn’t possibly work together in the same room. Well, with the backing from the bosses, it’s amazing how well typesetters and strippers can work together as a team.

Prepare the Team
Beyond knocking down organizational barriers, jobs had to change to make the transition to digital workflows. Here, the prepress maven did the smart thing and told the strippers they had best prepare for a future that didn’t require a light table and razor blades. He laid out the plan and made it clear that their job security depended on transitioning their skill sets to the new tools.

By giving the strippers plenty of warning, the firm was able to give them time to buy into the program—after the initial knee-jerk reaction—so they could learn how to use the new tools. Again, it’s one thing to say, “We’re going digital and if you don’t cooperate, you’re fired.” It’s quite another to explain the firm’s long-term goals and then help employees see how they can help achieve them.

Stripping is a perfect example of leveraging existing expertise to move in an entirely new direction. A good stripper knows exactly why the pages need to be stripped head-to-head or the amount of shingling required to bind six eight-page signatures on the saddlestitcher. This is a far more important skill, initially, than the ability to plug pages into an imposition template. As time goes on, strippers need to develop the computer skills, so they can understand more arcane data handling and, more important, the troubleshooting that is required in any digital workflow.

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