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Managing Changing Technology: Strategic and Tactical Lessons, Part One

(September 2006) posted on Tue Oct 03, 2006

Explore impact of new technology and the benefits of timing its implementation properly.

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By Mark A. Coudray

I usually try to gear Prepress Wire toward discussions that focus on the technical aspects of prepress. There are plenty of opportunities for that, and it's easy to find some interesting aspect to highlight. But this month begins a two-part segment on managing changing technology around us, specifically the strategic and tactical approaches to implementing technology and innovation.

A significant disconnect often exists between what managers feel they need and the reality of the employees who implement our grand schemes. No matter how innovative or productive the technology is, the workers must ultimately make it happen—if it happens at all. Let's talk about some of the common situations to keep in mind. To begin, we'll take a look at the typical prepress scheme. The art department will be our first subject.

The art department

The art department is usually made up of creative art and production art. The creative artists normally have little to do with how the jobs are prepared and printed. Their job is to come up with the content that creates value in the eyes of the customer. Management commonly treats creative artists as prima donnas with an attitude. Management tolerates the artists and issues them a set of objectives that is different from the rest of the company's goals.

A huge divide sets apart throwing out ideas and concepts and actually making them printable. Making them printable falls on the production artists. These are the guys and gals who make it happen. They are often faced with the daunting task of making the unworkable workable. Production artists are vastly more technical in their understanding of the reproduction process, but they're often seen as overhead. Customers are rarely willing to pay for their time, nor are they appreciative of the production artists' knowledge and understanding of how the job will print. After all, the client is buying the complete package and has little interest in the mechanics of how the job actually gets done. Printers find it difficult to get customers to pay the full value of creative art because clients consider the step between the final approved art and the printed product as part of the deal.


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