A look back to our first month with K4 v6.3

Last night we shipped the final pages for our June issue and we are viewing those via Kodak InSite so final corrections should go out this afternoon. This was our first issue built with K4 v6.3 (and InDesign CS5) and it was a learning experience, which is a nice way of saying that not everything work smoothly. But we did it and we didn’t have to work late into the night finishing each day’s tasks.

We had a major workflow review meeting today with our art department, our managing editor, our production director and myself. It was long but very production. Now that we have survived our first issue we have many changes to make to the K4 configuration. We need to eliminate some tasks and improve communications. We know what we need to do for next issue and will reflow our workflow again next month. This is an ongoing process.

The first major change is to add 3 more article workflows. Many types of articles require fewer tasks than main articles. In some cases they need an extra task. So we will have workflows for main articles, captions, heads, pull quotes, and credits. We expect this to simply many aspects of using K4.

The layout workflow is getting tweaked. A major issue involving final approval of layouts was solved in a simple manner by adding a single task.

A few items stand out:

  • Parallel works can be confuse some people. They work great when we want to allow a single person to work on a set of tasks in any order. A other times there might be confusion when more than one person is involved and they want an automated way to know when the parallel workflow is completed. It would be nice is an automated action could be triggered by completing a task.
  • We could not have developed the workflow changes we made today before we finished an entire issue of The Washingtonian. We now understand the intricacies of K4 much better. You don’t understand the implications of all of the K4 setup until after you use it. Fortunately K4 is very flexible and we were able to address each workflow problem.
  • The most needed feature is the ability to restrict Independent Tasks to specific Statuses. This one feature would allow us to build more flexibility into our workflows. Right now any independent tasks can be applied to an object despite the current status, which is not a good thing when you need to lock down articles and layouts. Perhaps we will see this in K4 v6.5.
  • We hit a few technical problems. E-mailing of assignments is a bit wonky. Rewinds often didn’t work.

We are very optimistic that producing our next issue will go smoother with our proposed workflow changes. Time to get back to work.