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WORKFLOW INTEGRATION -- Getting Connected

January 2002
BY MARK SMITH


Since the early days of desktop publishing, the term "workflow" for the most part has been associated with the processing of files within prepress operations. The focus of the discussion—and product development—now is being extended forward to the customer's operation and back through the pressroom and into the bindery.

Prepress and printing operations have to navigate a web of sometimes-sensitive issues when they touch on their customers' internal processes. Concerns about control, internal politics and resistance to change can present barriers to a better way of doing things.

Tanagraphics Inc. in New York City strives to deepen its relationship with clients by being a solutions provider, but it makes sure to do so at the client's pace, says Mark Cordova, COO. A key focus of that effort currently is the TANA Interactive Publishing System, or TI:PS, which is an Internet-based content management system that can enable services such as browser-based dynamic print document generation and Web publishing, Cordova adds.

"Our asset management system provides a very fast, lightweight method for clients to index and organize their content," he notes.

The other key to the system's success is an intuitive, browser-based interface that is used across the tool set, adds Peter Forster, who heads the TANA Interactive division. "The person who is using this system, in most cases, is not going to be a graphic artist," Forster says. "We are striving to put the means of publishing into the hands of the people who have ultimate responsibility for the results, not the graphic artist."

Fast to Market

To clarify that point, Cordova points out that the TI:Print module is designed primarily for the production of sell sheets and other structured materials that need to be brought to market quickly.

Tanagraphics is not looking to take over the design function, the company execs agree. Templates define the look of a page, whether for print or Web, Forster explains. But, the look and feel of those templates is still developed by a client's graphic artist using traditional design tools, he says.

The company also has built a browser-based extranet site for use by clients of its fulfillment services. This system enables users to remotely manage their inventories and place orders that flow into the firm's PSI management system for processing. In addition, the shop is working with printCafe to implement Internet access to its MIS.

Kennickell Printing in Savannah, GA, has to overcome a geographical challenge in connecting with its customers, says Al Kennickell, president. "We sit on the coast, which means our market only extends about 180°, so we have to go further to get business."
 

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