eDistribution, it’s not Rocket Science! How to Convert Print Files to Digital Files

Posted by Kevin Flanigan


Planning to Convert to Digital Files

Project Planning Basics – 5 easy stepsHow to Convert Print Files to Digital Files

With more than 20 years of project management and customer service experience under my belt, converting a client’s library of printed material to digital delivery can still be a daunting task. The key is to ensure that the processes you create at the beginning will remain in effect throughout the project.  You’ve completed the research and you’re ready to transition the companies or clients content from print to an online or digital experience. Where do you start?  With a plan, clear and simple. If you follow the process and create the plan and stick to it , you’ll be eDistributing content in no time.  Let’s get started.

5 Basic steps:

Use this five step process outlined below to make sure you don’t go down the wrong path when converting print files to digital files ready for distribution.  This process assumes that you have already defined the project start date and have targeted a completion date.  Once this is established then perform the following five steps.                      

1.  Creating a list of tasks at this point don’t be concerned with the order of the task let the process juices flow.  By listing the tasks the process will begin to take shape.  The activity of listing the task should include the team leads and department heads of the areas that are going to be affected.  You must work collaboratively.

2.  Prioritize the list of tasks into major and supportive categories.  List major tasks and list the supportive tasks as outlined below.

a.  Digital Distribution Budget 

i.  Financial Goals

1.  Discuss and Document

ii.  Base Budget Set Reflecting ROI Estimates

iii.  Add Manpower Requirements to Budget, Adjust ROI

iv.  Distribute Budget

v.  Team Review

vi.  Budget Approved

b.  Converting Print Files

i.  Identify Content Worthy of Digital Distribution

ii.  File Format(s)

This process will help you avoid potential problem areas; identify who has the authority to approve? And establish the manpower requirements?

3.  Enter the task duration or work time estimates for each major task and supportive line items. For small projects taking days, this may be in hours, in these cases, nothing less than an hour to start. For larger projects, durations of days and weeks should be used.  Once you have these tallied up you will see what the end date is.  Is the total duration within your original completion date?

4.  Distribute this document to the team leads and ask that they review the time frames, change where needed and review and document dependencies between tasks.

5.  Assign resources based on the required end date.  If resources are limited address  specific tasks and adjust accordingly in order to make the end date.  People want to help; they want to be part of the solutions.  Give them the opportunity to get involved.

 You can do all of the above by using a project planning tool like MS Project or can use a simple MS excel spreadsheet.  What you will have created is the foundation for the work breakdown structure (WBS) to be built.  Failure to understand the importance of the work breakdown is one of the biggest mistakes that planners make.  Continue to develop the WBS as the hierarchical list of the project’s phases, task, and milestones.  It’s the core of the project schedule.  The WBS is critical because it drive the scope of the project.  The scope translates into timelines and budget.  Taking time to map out the WBS will save you significant time later by helping you to avoid rework and false starts.

 To build out your WBS based on your task list. Start by listing the major components of your project, and then map out the minor tasks within each major component.  Continue to break down each component until you have a sufficient level of detail to support your plan.  What’s sufficient detail? 

Consider these Factors:

  • What level of task do you want to track and report status on?  Team members will need to give you status on tasks, and you’ll need to report status on them.  If you break down work to one day tasks and your project is nine months long, you and your team will be spending a lot of time entering and tracking status.
  • What level gives you early warnings about risk?  You want to break down your task so that you can identify problems early enough to do something about them.
  • Can you effectively identify dependencies between tasks?  If one task needs to be completed before you can move forward than you need to separate the task so that you can identify the dependencies and properly prioritize.

 Planning rule of thumb:

The challenge planners have is to ensure that all task are in the dependency chain.  “Here is a good rule of thumb” every task should have a predecessor unless it is driven by the start date of the project. Every task should have a successor unless it is the last task or milestone in the project.

Congratulations! You now have the basics tools which will help you with all your projects moving forward.  Now that you can outline the steps, you need to define the model, consider and research digital delivery options.  Do your digital assets required secure eBook delivery?   Do you require additional offline media distribution encrypted DVDs or USBs? 

10 Things to Consider Before Racing to Digital Content    

Topics: File Conversion


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