Electronic prepress standard operating proceduresby John Knapp, Binary Graphics, Inc. Seattle © 1997 Binary Graphics, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
In the graphic arts, we pin our efficiency and profits on standard operating procedures. The pre-press, press and bindery departments operate in well-known standardized ways. So what about that non-stop fire drill we call electronic prepress... Can there be such a thing as standard operating procedures? I think so if we work at it.
Communications is the key to adopting a standard approach to electronic prepress. (And, should I add, a standard approach to estimating and scheduling electronic prepress too.) Here is a break-down of what I mean:
Publish a set of file preparation guidelines and let your customers know that it is important to follow them. (That we are un-able or un-willing to let our customers know how to prepare their files is the single biggest reason for the fire drill.)
Quote Preparation Stage
Make your prices dependent on files being prepared as spelled out in your guidelines as well as on your having job specific information that details the status of the files and the complexity of the job: Information like how many pages need trapping, how many pages to impose, how many scans needed and how many provided, how many colors on how many pages (are they all 5-color pages,) how many pages have gradients on them, how many pages have hi-res images on them.
Disk Delivery Stage
Is everything present (fonts, graphics, hardcopy) and does the job vary in any way from your published guidelines and the quote. Do you think you could ask your customer to initial a statement to that effect??
Electronic Prepress Job-Start Stage
Make sure that no incomplete jobs enter your EPP department. Make sure every job is accompanied by a list detailing necessary activities and a time budget that says how long EPP has to deliver their materials. Get an agreement from your EPP manager that he can give you those materials within the allowed time. Make sure EPP knows what materials the plant needs and when those materials are due.