Workflow Management Consulting for McGraw-Hill Education

McGraw-Hill Education hired DPCI to help the company overcome workflow management challenges and devise a strategy for future expansion and process improvements around the K4 Publishing System.

McGraw-Hill Education, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, is a leading innovator in the development of teaching and learning solutions for the 21st century. Through a comprehensive range of traditional and digital education content and tools, McGraw-Hill Education empowers and prepares professionals and students of all ages to connect, learn and succeed in the global economy. McGraw-Hill Education has offices in 33 countries and publishes in more than 65 languages.

McGraw-Hill Education began using the K4 Publishing System in 2005 to support its book publishing process. Over the years, the adoption of the K4 Publishing System expanded rapidly throughout the organization and by 2008 McGraw-Hill Education represented one of the largest K4 Publishing System installations in the country.

As the install-base grew and the volume of content increased, McGraw-Hill Education found it had pushed the K4 Publishing System to its limits. Management began receiving reports of corruption and degradation of performance from the end user community. As a result of this feedback, McGraw-Hill Education identified key initiatives for which they needed assistance: disaster recovery, file corruption analysis, template best practices, performance improvement for remote offices, and upgrade analysis with recommendations.

In the summer of 2008, McGraw-Hill Education management turned to DPCI, a certified K4 Publishing System integrator with expertise in workflow management for publishing companies, to help them overcome the challenges and devise a strategy for future expansion and process improvements around the K4 Publishing System.

DPCI worked with McGraw-Hill Education throughout the K4 Publishing System remediation project to provide analysis, project management, and technical support services.

In addition to helping organize and manage resources, DPCI led McGraw-Hill Education through a rigorous Risk Identification process to elicit project risks and then assign mitigation strategies for the highly probable or high impact risks.

Track 1 - Improvement of K4 Publishing System Disaster Recovery Capabilities

DPCI worked with McGraw-Hill Education to document disaster recovery strategies and service level expectations. Once the disaster recovery strategy was identified and documented, DPCI worked with McGraw-Hill Education to run a ‘fire-drill’ to ensure that documented practices could be followed successfully.

Track 2 – File Corruption Analysis

Due to a series of server corruption events, DPCI was tasked with performing an investigative analysis to determine the probable causes of the corruption and identify potential solutions. As part of the analysis, DPCI reviewed server logs for errors, examined and compared database backups, and analyzed corrupted files. At the conclusion of the analysis, DPCI provided McGraw-Hill Education with a corruption analysis summary report that indicated the probable causes for the corruption events, lessons learned, and best practices for file creation going forward.

In addition to the corruption analysis summary report, DPCI provided McGraw-Hill Education’s vendors with training on proper workstation setup and configuration. DPCI then worked with McGraw-Hill Education to produce and distribute a set of guidelines for vendors to follow in order to conform to McGraw-Hill Education’s standards.

Track 3 - Template Best Practices and Performance Acceleration for Remote Offices

DPCI reviewed a sampling of Adobe InDesign templates across McGraw-Hill Education business units. DPCI identified a number of critical (such as missing plugins and incompatible plugins) and non-critical characteristics (such as layer usage and master page usage) to use as benchmarks in the template analysis. At the conclusion of the review, DPCI documented best practices for bringing the templates into compliance.

McGraw-Hill Education has remote offices across the country and also works with vendor partners across the globe. K4 Publishing System users from these locations connect to K4 servers that reside in the New York City area and complained of a severe lag when checking-in and out documents to the centralized server.

DPCI created a series of performance test cases for McGraw-Hill Education to execute at each remote location. DPCI then analyzed the captured data to look for potential network or infrastructure weaknesses that could be corrected to improve performance. Additionally, DPCI reviewed and presented risks to McGraw-Hill Education on proposed 3rd party desktop virtualization solutions, which were aimed at eliminating remote performance issues by connecting to a workstation that was located in the same network as the K4 server.

Track 4 – Upgrade Analysis and Implementation Recommendations

At the time of the K4 remediation project, McGraw–Hill Education had not yet upgraded to the latest version of the K4 Publishing System and the Adobe Creative Suite. Before moving forward with an upgrade, McGraw–Hill Education needed to understand the impact of the upgrade on current in-progress projects as well as completed, archived projects. McGraw–Hill Education management retained DPCI to perform an analysis to determine the best approach for upgrading the system and rolling out the updates to the user community.

As a first step in the upgrade evaluation, DPCI performed an audit of all McGraw–Hill Education desktop workstations to identify which machines to replace or upgrade to support the latest versions of the software.

Next, DPCI performed side-by-side comparisons of original file versions and upgraded file versions to evaluate the differences and identify copy re-flow issues.

At the conclusion of the analysis, DPCI created a report that highlighted the key differences between the original files and the upgraded versions. One of the most dramatic differences found was the file size. DPCI also performed compatibility testing on a number of 3rd party components that McGraw–Hill Education was utilizing at both the desktop and the server level.

DPCI also documented the upgrade benefits to help McGraw–Hill Education with change management throughout the transition. This documentation was used by McGraw–Hill Education management to prepare staff for the upgrade, reassure users on compatibility, and build excitement with regards to new features and functionality that would soon become available to them with the K4 Publishing System.

Following DPCI’s analysis and recommendations, McGraw–Hill Education upgraded the K4 Publishing System and Adobe Creative Suite desktop software with confidence, knowing in advance what challenges they would encounter.

DPCI’s analysis report on file corruption allowed McGraw–Hill Education to modify project templates to adhere to best practices and reduce the number of future file corruptions.

DPCI continues to support McGraw–Hill Education, serving as a technical support specialists to help triage file and workflow issues with the K4 Publishing System and Adobe Creative Suite.