Outsource to India and Cut Production Costs
Magazine publishers are beginning to reap the benefits of outsourcing page production to facilities located in India.
Outsourcing is not a new concept. Magazine publishers do it every day. Thanks to the convenience of PDF workflow and e-mail, a magazine based in Atlanta can easily have a writer in San Francisco, sales managers in Dallas and an art director in Chicago. So it’s no surprise that magazine publishers are beginning to explore shifting their content production workflows to offshore locations like India, China and Eastern Europe.
With exceptions, b-to-b magazine designs are fairly consistent from issue-to-issue when it comes to layout. Each month page production staff flow copy, art and ads into the same wells, a job that can be easily done by an offshore production team at a much lower price. Journal publishers have been outsourcing layout and production to India for years, and magazine publishers looking for a way to save money, are starting to consider the same thing.
How it Works
Oftentimes publishers can look to their printer for outsourcing services. One such printing company, Cadmus Communications, has been outsourcing pages to India for it’s journal clients for over six years. Cadmus employs more than 600 team members in two cities at its fully-owned subsidiary in India, Knowledge Works Global Limited (KGL).
Outsourcing production to India is a viable option for publishers with large portfolios of titles as well as for smaller publishers that may not be able to fund full-time in-house production staffs. Contrary to what some publishers may think, outsourcing production offshore does not mean the publisher loses control over the artistic aspects of its publications. When a publisher outsources, whether to India or Indiana, certain design specifications have to be created by the designer and communicated by the outsourced production person. Some publishers think of this in terms of style sheets, which can be automated and in most cases augmented for each issue.
Most outsourcing providers will assign a designated team in India to work exclusively with one publisher. That team becomes familiar with the requirements and specs a publisher has for creating pages and then renders, revises and proofs each page. In the journal market, which has been participating in outsourcing production to India for nearly 10 years, much of the creative design aspects have naturally shifted over to staffers in India as relationships developed.
Facilities in India are fully-equipped with trained and educated production teams with access to a number of composition layout platforms including InDesign, Quark, TeX, XPP and 3B2. Copy and text is accepted in multiple-input formats, which is sent via e-mail. Turnaround on pages occurs within a couple of days on average preceding proofing cycles that allow an in-house designer to tweak style and color on the pages sent from India. Multiple proofing cycles can occur until the publisher signs-off for the final PDF to be sent to the printer.
Some outsourcing companies offer domestic project managers that serve as middlemen between the publisher and the India team for an additional fee. In the beginning, project managers may come in handy to iron out any wrinkles in the process. With time, most project managers exit the relationship, and all communication is made directly through the publisher to the offshore team in India.
Shifting your production workflow to India will not happen overnight, and it will undoubtedly change your internal workflow. With the change however, will come significant savings. Your vendor will work out all the changes that have to be made (See "Shifting Workflow Overseas") and with time the production process will begin to take shape.
Sending production work overseas can save publishers a hefty chunk of change. Page production in India can cost anywhere from 25 percent to 75 percent less than production in the states, depending on the type of project and timeframe. Some magazine have decreased in-house production staff from eight members to two by sending production offshore.