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Taskforce IT-Standards: Setting new standards for the publishing industry

Matthias Kraus

Created on 27. June 2024

Woman at laptop with publishing icons
Table of contents

The publishing industry is undergoing a period of ongoing change, fueled by new technologies and digital trends. These changes are impacting not only our reading habits, but also the way publishers produce and deliver their content. In this dynamic environment, standards have a critical role to play in ensuring efficiency, quality, and interoperability.

The Task Force IT Standards of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) is an initiative devoted to developing and promoting uniform standards for the publishing industry. Its work focuses on standardizing and streamlining the implementation of new software for publishers. Working with industry experts, the Task Force develops real-world solutions that are tailored to unique needs of the publishing industry.

Current challenges in the publishing sector

Like any industry, publishing companies face a number of challenges. Chief among these are document management and workflow.

Several questions keep resurfacing, such as:

  • How can we keep all of the relevant communication and change logs for a given project in one place and make them easily accessible?
  • What strategies do we need to better manage document versioning and avoid ambiguity?
  • How can we improve coordination across departments to ensure timely and consistent revisions and updates?
  • Which technologies or systems can help us make the content release and approval process more efficient?
  • What measures should we take to improve collaboration and information sharing with external authors and partners?
  • How can recurring tasks be automated to free up more time for creative and strategic activities?
  • What amount of training do we need to ensure that our staff is up to speed with the latest technological developments?

Many publishers struggle every day with decentralized workflows that are fraught with inconsistencies across systems, applications, and other media formats. Attempts to standardize these processes and improve efficiency often get bogged down in lengthy software evaluations, with results that are either never implemented or languish somewhere along the way. 

There are a number of reasons for this, including a lack of established standards, insufficient time for implementation, and technological advances that often outpace existing expertise. In addition, companies often shy away from the magnitude of these projects because of the far-reaching consequences and economic challenges that result from the decisions they entail.

Standardized processes provide solutions

These issues are precisely what the IT Standards Task Force addresses. It focuses on facilitating the implementation of new software and optimizing workflows, particularly benefiting small and medium-sized publishers. Larger publishers also profit from improvements in the efficiency of individual sub-processes.

Drawing on their extensive expertise, the more than 50 experts define requirements for IT systems that are endorsed by a large number of different publishers. They establish a standardized methodology and language that facilitates communication between publishers and software developers.

A key component of these uniform processes is the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) workflow, which graphically depicts processes by providing standardized symbols for events, making the workflow easy to understand. Applying these processes significantly reduces training time, allowing the software to be used productively from the outset.

Xpublisher maps the IT Standards

Working together with the Task Force, Fabasoft Xpublisher was one of the first companies to launch publishing software based on the standards. Together with the integration of the parsX XML standard for textbook publishers, it enables rapid deployment of an “XML-first“ production environment tailored to the publishing industry‘s needs.

This illustration provides an example of a parsX production in Xpublisher

Exemplary parsX production in Xpublisher

Xpublisher incorporates the standards seamlessly within the system, enabling instant productivity from Day 1. From installation and customization to staff training, Xpublisher offers predefined proceses that guarantee a smooth workflow.

The illustration shows a sample BPMN workflow

Exemplary BPMN Workflow

Standards will remain central to the publishing industry well into the future. By standardizing processes and collaborating with experts, publishers will be able to further optimize their production processes and rise to the challenges of the digital transformation.