When I was naming this company all those years ago, the factory was inspired by the fact that we produced a lot of quality product. We by no means approached projects with an asssembly line, interchangable parts mentality, but we did look at each assignment through a production lens. I reckon that's from my early days helping my dad out at the print shop he managed. Nothing makes you focus more on efficient production and effective process like having to produce a piece of printed material. It was a great training ground for my early career as a publication manager, and continues to serve me today even as I'm doing more writing and consulting than production planning.

But the desire for simple and elegant processes still burns strong. And it gets me into trouble with some clients. Often, for example, clients ask to be copied on every email I send to a set of stakeholders; some even ask the entire team to always use REPLY ALL. I know this is so clients can stay on top of who's doing what, but the process serves that goal in essence only. Nobody needs to read emails that don't pertain to their deliverables or overall effectiveness. I certainly don't need 6 messages with some variation of "OK". But I know it's not my clients' problem. So it's up to me to find a process to manage all that traffic. I'm still working on that, but here's how we manage email traffic internally: Email Protocol.

Another challenge: the clients with devil-may-care philosophies about version control. If you've done any kind of content project, you know that keeping up with revisions and versions is critical. But on some projects, I'll get one version to proof while another member of the team gets another, slightly different, version to proof. And none of them will be numbered or coded in any way to know who's looking at what. The result is multiple sets of revisions to slightly different versions. Let's just say that mistakes are made and often not caught until the last-chance-for-gas proof just hours before press time. *sigh*.

Here's how we manage versions at The Word Factory:

● Assign a file name using this convention: 091016Lester_ABCwebcopy_v1.This lets everyone know when the project's due, who's in charge, what it is and what version it is.
● Review one version per round. In other words, once something's ready to proof, work stops on it till changes are in. Revisions from multiple parties are tracked like this: 091016Lester_ABCwebcopy_v1_CFE. Those last initials belong to the reviewer.
● If there's a design component running concurrently, it's noted like this, 091016Lester_ABCwebdesign_v1, and tracked the same way.

These processes work for us because they're based on our people and our needs. Maybe they'll work for you (and I do encourage you to try them), but if they don't, use them as a starting point for your own organic "process" process.