Ten Essentials for 100% Digital WorkflowSo, you've heard all the hype about digital workflow as the quick, easy solution to publishing and production. But do you know what to consider in implementing a digital workflow?
From prepress to distribution, digital workflow shortens cycle times, reduces costs and increases productivity. It's characterized by the elimination of film in the prepress and printing processes. Here are 10 essential aspects to consider when evaluating the benefits of a totally digital workflow:
• First, consider where film still plays a role in production - particularly, pick-up film. Committing to a completely filmless workflow requires conversion of pick-up film to digital files. Copydot scanning makes it possible for many publishers to participate in digital workflow. However, some digital files can be extremely large and difficult to store and distribute.
• Digital photography is an important component to implementing digital workflow. Images captured by a digital camera are placed directly onto a page, web or print, completely avoiding the generation of film. As a result, scans and separations are eliminated and the production cycle time is reduced.
• Centralizing assets in a repository is important for the efficient repurposing of digital information by designers. Digital asset management systems offer a way to organize, capture, archive, retrieve and reuse digitized information, ranging from text, graphics and photos to full pages and complete projects.
Integrating an asset management system allows you to take advantage of automated page building and database-driven page updates. Enterprisewide digital content management systems make it possible to manage business data, media assets, product and marketing information and web and print production. The result is a shorter cycle time, easier re-purposing and versioning and improved productivity.
• A major consideration when building pages that go to press is digital trapping. Trapping is the process of overlapping page elements to compensate for press misregistration. It is possible to see traps most accurately on high resolution digital proofs. For example, a 2,400 dpi proofing device surpasses a 300 dpi proofing device in providing verification of traps.
• Clearly, the Internet will continue to influence marketing and communications. Publishing and direct marketing organizations will need to port printed content to the Net.
To do so, there is a demand to have a centralized source for all digital assets to facilitate repurposing. It is very helpful to have a single vendor store your digital content.
• As regards production, digital proofing prevails as a time-saving tool. Digital workflow requires the preview of page data without the generation of film. Digital proofing presents your project on paper immediately, eliminating the film-making step. This saves time and opens the door for computer-to-plate.
With the many cost-effective choices available today, digital proofing provides added flexibility with the option of remote proofing. Remote proofing is the process of delivering digital data for a color proof in the form of an e-file.
This e-file is sent to a digital proofer at your location for onsite proof generation. Many creative organizations are finding that the benefits of accelerated cycle time and related production efficiencies far outweigh the challenges of digital proof acceptance.
• Proof integrity is a key factor to the acceptance of digital proofs. To have proof integrity is to have the guarantee that what is on the proof is what goes to the digital plate for imaging on press.
The way to establish proof integrity is to proof the exact same file that will eventually go to plate. The digital workflow must be designed to establish proof integrity.
• Committing to a 100 percent digital workflow allows you to participate in quicker transfer of information from one location to another via high speed telecommunications. Wide area network connections are capable of delivering digital data in a fraction of the time needed to send via courier.
There are various options depending on speed, frequency of usage and average file size. These include dedicated telecommunications connection - T1 or DS3 and shared telecommunications connection - the Internet or a digital delivery service.
• While facilitating a more time-sensitive printing process, digital workflow also accounts for the importance of speaking to your target audience.
Demographic binding and variable imaging are driven by digital database technologies. Personalization, customization and versioning are the keys to successful one-to-one marketing. Digital printing provides a cost-effective way to print short-run, variable-data marketing pieces. The process is fast and ideal for highly targeted direct mail, personalized catalogs and customer-specific collateral.
• Finally, it is important to keep distribution and fulfillment needs in mind. Internet literature fulfillment ranges from e-mail to digital printing systems that can generate high-quality, custom-tailored sales materials at remote locations. These high-tech systems enable customers to go on-line and fill out an on-screen form. In minutes, a four-color document is created. End-to-end e-commerce systems allow you to generate an on-line catalog and handle on-line transactions effectively. By bundling on-line ordering, credit card processing, inventory management, outgoing communication and other business tasks, these programs have become one of the keys to remain profitable in the digital future.
The digital workflow is an important competitive tool. Transforming your production process can offer many new opportunities for marketing your products and services.
Joyce Vogt is workflow engineer at the Banta Digital Group unit of Banta Corp., Minneapolis. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.