By: Neil Greer
In the continuous hunt for profit and revenue gains, it pays to analyze where your team is spending its time.
Too often, the presumption is that more hard work is the recipe for getting more done, but this presumption doesn’t take into account the processes and systems involved in executing operations.
There continue to be opportunities for process consolidation and improvement among the sales, account management, and advertising systems within the newspaper site and corporate media group. The trick is finding a simple starting point that will lead to success without a large IT budget.
One of the main impediments to gaining profit in operations is multiple vendor installations — each serving a distinct function in the process.
It is an unavoidable reality that an ad campaign will travel through multiple software systems. Different departments representing print, online, and mobile products are also involved.
While often overlooked, operational team members with vast knowledge of multiple vendor systems are true heroes of the media industry and support journalism through advertising. Look to those with multi-platform experience for insight on where opportunities lie.
The key to increased profit through process and time savings is to examine where systems and processes overlap in detail. While it may be intellectually stimulating to examine large processes in high-level detail, we need to dig in and look for ten 5-percent efficiency gains to equal a 10 percent operational profit gain.
In the hunt for efficiency, try the following simple process:
• Randomly select two ad campaigns — one single product (i.e., print-only ad order) and one cross platform (print + online + mobile)
• Assign a manager to observe the campaigns from ad order to deployment with the personnel responsible for the campaign
• Make detailed observations, and watch for multiple system overlap and manual processes
• Create simple process diagrams, and highlight areas for improvement
Once you have identified an opportunity, one of the challenges will be getting the buy-in from one or more vendors to assist in process or system modification.
As you review your alternatives, keep in mind that advances in software and technology now give vendors more options for making modifications than in the past.
Talk to your vendors about your process findings. The right provider(s) will be open to discussion. As with any other project, think about the first outcome you want that will prove the success of the effort.
A good example might be setting a goal to achieve a 30-minute per campaign time savings on campaign order entry or ad proofing by placing links between two related systems. Such a consolidation would save your account executives from constantly moving in and out of systems to get the job done.
Process modifications that are digestible also give you, your internal team, and vendors a way to improve profits in the current quarter. Simple success also makes everyone want to repeat the process of looking for gains. Perhaps more importantly, it improves the client experience and shows the ownership that progress is being made that positively affects the bottom line.
Neil Greer has been in the media industry since 1994. His column, Go Digital, focuses on sharing experiences that aid in solving key strategic and operational issues facing publishers as they invest in the growth
of their digital operations.