Bigfish Publications turned to TruEdit, a cloud-based workflow system created by MEI, to streamline tasks among its remote staff members. The turnkey nature of the software system, as well as its integration with Word, allowed the company to get up to speed quickly – and to successfully navigate an abbreviated production schedule.
A Bigfish in the Spa Industry
Bigfish Publications is the leading trade publisher for business owners in the luxury leisure spa and pool market. It publishes 12 times per year across four magazines: SpaRetailer, SpaSearch, Poolsearch and PoolPro.
Several years ago, Bigfish jettisoned its physical office space in favor of a virtual- workforce model. It wasn’t long before team members and a cadre of freelancers found themselves collaborating from locations across several states.
Working remotely made sense for Bigfish, but it also made the company somewhat vulnerable. “When you have a small team, people are your biggest asset,” explains Megan Kendrick, senior editor, Bigfish Publications. “Our system was moving files on and off a server. If anything came up in the middle of production we would’ve been totally lost. We needed better insurance and workflow in case one of us had an emergency or was out sick.”
Files weren’t always easily accessible to all staff members, especially if people neglected to upload their most-recent work. Often, writers and designers sent work to each other as attachments, which sometimes resulted in multiple copies and caused confusion. Plus, the company faced significant lag time if a staff member wasn’t immediately available.
In addition, Kendrick ended up acting as the information hub. Team members had to contact her to find out what phase a certain piece of content was in. It was also her responsibility to ensure that work flowed from one staff member to another.
The Quest for Better Workflow
Kendrick began looking for a solution.
Implementation of any new software was going to have to be turnkey since Bigfish does not have an IT department. The solution was also going to have to work with the programs they were already using.
Then they found TruEdit from MEI. TruEdit is a cloud-based software solution for content creators that integrates with both Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign.
“Other solutions were not a good fit,” Kendrick explains. “Some were for people who were just creating marketing materials. Or you have big publishing software suites, but they didn’t make sense for us for how remote we are. There were other cloud-based [products], but we felt like communicating with those companies about our needs didn’t mesh. MEI seemed to instantly get who we are and what we did. Everything was already in place.”
Another key selling point: TruEdit’s integration with the software Bigfish was already using. “With some of the other programs, you’d have a workflow solution but it wouldn’t integrate with InDesign or Word,” says Kendrick. “This really fit with what we already had and improved upon it. It’s not like we had to learn a lot of new products. We had to learn how to move stuff around in TruEdit and that was it.”
How Bigfish Uses TruEdit
Using TruEdit, the entire Bigfish team has complete visibility throughout the content creation process.
Staff members and freelancers work in InDesign or Word, managing their files with TruEdit. Each team member checks in and checks out files and then assigns the file to the next person who needs to work on it. That ensures that all of the moving parts of the creation process remain in motion.
Having transparency into the process allows Kendrick to stay on top of workflow, without having to serve as the hub of the project.
“At any point in our production cycle everyone can see the status of every individual job,” says Kendrick. “Before, I was keeper of everything. If people wanted to know if a story was in, they had to ask me. Now anyone can see where we are in production and move things along.”
She also reports that implementation was seamless. “It has been really easy to set up and delete users,” she adds. “Some users are more savvy than others – but all of our people can use TruEdit and understand it pretty easily. The fact that it works across different platforms has been great, especially when dealing with freelancers.”
The Bigfish team produces a special issue every year. Due to scheduling issues, the staff had three days less than usual to meet its printer deadline. Using TruEdit to manage the issue, Bigfish not only met the deadline, it did so with ease.
“It was a pretty big deal,” says Kendrick. “We looked at each other and said ‘We can’t believe we did this and it wasn’t as painful as usual, even though we had three fewer days.’ I think we were all surprised.
“TruEdit also cuts out some potential for human errors,” she adds. “Before, things would get missed or added twice. Now things are a lot cleaner. A lot of random redundancies have been removed.
Positioned for the Future
Bigfish has plans to expand in the next year. Kendrick credits TruEdit with giving them the confidence to do so. “TruEdit makes us more limber,” she says. “We have more time [due to better workflow].”