Optimizing a $200 million workflow with InCopy CS2 in 7 days.
Designers were at the center of the old Omega workflow–one designer described it as “everyone whirls around us like an amusement park ride–the closer we get to deadline, the faster the whirling.” This workflow forced the other departments to wait to see their requested changes. At the same time, the Design department had difficulty concentrating on creating new work with the constant interruptions and change requests. All extra-departmental content had to be styled and moved numerous times, which dramatically slowed down the entire document creation process. Although structural changes involving page composition and location and number of pages were still required from time to time, responsibility for the majority of modifications to existing content was no longer on the shoulders of the designers, resulting in the elimination of approximately 40% of their daily tasks, and almost completely nullifying the need for overtime.
The old workflow mandated an average of 770 overtime hours within the Design department per 90-day proposal creation cycle. Under the new optimized workflow, Omega conservatively expects to reduce overtime hours to less than 50.
The nature of the Omega proposal team’s work–creating time-sensitive proposals to help Omega secure commercial and industrial buildings and land development contracts–is such that, no matter how optimized the workflow, a project cannot be delivered to its recipient too far ahead of deadline. While every salaried employee will appreciate the reduction in overtime, the time savings now realized will not translate into sending proposals out early. Instead, the real value to Omega in its optimized workflow is more time to get it right. By removing the bottleneck for changes at the door to the Design department, Accounting can include the very latest figures based on market climate; Engineering can spend more time on the detail of their schematics, plans, and conceptual illustrations; Copywriting can carefully choose and fit every word; Design can spend more time creating compelling layouts and original artwork, and; everyone involved has the time to make the proposal perfect.
Because the workflow was transformed mid-stream, accurate time and budget savings resulting from the workflow optimization could not be fully quantified. Varying portions of the individual departments’ content had already been created under the previous methodologies and laid out in InDesign CS, and only new content and revision of existing content was incorporated into the optimized workflow.
Omega’s original request for consultation anticipated my return to Omega at thirty day intervals over the ninety day workflow transformation process. During the second visit I would have introduced the workflow to Copywriting, Accounting, and Engineering team members and train them to expert level in it. During the third visit Omega hoped to have me troubleshoot technical issues and pain points that arose during the previous month and to tweak the workflow as needed. Because we decided midweek to change the plan and deploy on the spot, and because of the manner of execution I chose, seven days took the place of 90.
Since the on-site workflow optimization a few months ago, I have answered a few how-to questions from Omega personnel via telephone and e-mail, and delivered several scripts to assist with certain repetitive tasks in InDesign and InCopy (the scripts had been part of the optimization plan all along, but were not ready at the accelerated deployment time). I have not, however, had to return to Omega–although I hope to visit for lunch soon.
At press time, Omega expects to begin work on its first fully collaborative proposal under the optimized workflow before year’s end.
Footnote: Omega won the US$198 million contract for the project proposed during the workflow optimization.
InCopy CS2: In Production 6-Part Special Report: