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Rewriting profitability for an international Publishing house

Rewriting profitability for an international Publishing house

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The client, an international media group with market-leading businesses in education, business information and consumer publishing, was looking for a reliable, long-term partner to bolster its growth. The client needed a partner with the skills and scalability, someone who would not only be able to keep pace with the company's growth, but also be able to align with its own business goals and subsequently add value.

First and foremost, the client was aiming to reduce costs. It also wanted faster time-to-market and better quality for the products, all done within a model of sustenance, aiming to build on the partnership in the future.

The client was looking for a partner with strategic interests and common alignments and this search took them 2 years to finally sign up with HCL. Starting off on a five-year plan, today the engagement has grown and has been extended for another five years. Today, HCL is serving 14 business units and 317 applications of the company across the globe.

My books are all over the place!

Bringing a text from under an author's pen to the market shelves takes a lot of effort. Apart from the traditional publishing jobs such as copy-editing and designing, there are copyright negotiations, packaging and marketing, rights and royalties management to be dealt with. With the advent of digital information systems and the Internet, the scope of publishing has expanded to encompass all forms of digital and interactive media.

The client, already a market leader in consumer publishing, education and financial information, wanted to further strengthen its position and profitability.

The partnership began with HCL first taking charge of some 100 custom applications that were supporting their routine business functions. The biggest challenge was the knowledge transfer itself. In the absence of any institutional knowledge, including documentation with the client, it was difficult to understand the working of the different applications. The system even lacked defined and consistent processes for routine tasks like production support and release calendars.

Moreover, within two years of the start of the engagement, the client's processes underwent a major overhaul. This roughly translated into revisiting the work which was done in the previous two years.

In subsequent years, the client's engagement with HCL expanded to business process outsourcing and call-center management. The engagement also included infrastructure management involving remote monitoring and helpdesk.

One story at a time...

Knowledge Transition (KT) being the first and the biggest hurdle, HCL employed a strategy called 'Silent KT'. The strategy involved having the offshore team get access to all application remotely. This reduced the cost while alleviating the burden from the client team.

After successfully completing the KT, HCL concentrated on software project developments and enhancements. It put processes in place for bug fixes and cyclical releases. It relied upon a wide array of software tools and technologies to customize solutions for the client.

HCL formed a governance framework to ensure transparency and quick problem identification and resolution. HCL ensured that issues were proactively identified and addressed as soon as possible through weekly project status reviews, monthly operations and quarterly steering committee meetings.

Want a book? Take the library

Optimum usage of tools was encouraged and hence the industry's best tools were deployed for the design phase (ERWIN, Rational Rose, Visual Modeler, etc.), the development phase (Visual Café, PC Anywhere and Kawa IDE), configuration management (SCCS and Star Team), content management (Live Link and Vignette), data warehousing (Informatica), quality assurance (JTest and Junit) and incidence tracking (TestDirector, Clearquest and Remedy).

During the major overhaul at the client's end, HCL kept pace with the abrupt changes, even if it meant redoing the work of the previous two years.

HCL employed its best practices such as Sharepoint-based online knowledge base and a three-step comprehensive induction program. This program includes domain induction, engagement snapshot and project level details to help new entrants understand the issues at hand.

The focus was to seamlessly integrate customer's and HCL's process frameworks. HCL also employed PMSmart, an online project monitoring and implementation tool, to keep track of the ongoing projects.

Building on numbers and alphabets...

The engagement with HCL has resulted in considerable cost reduction for the client. In addition, there have been significant contributions to increased revenues from the online channel and faster fulfillment of the client expectation.

The client's mammoth systems that lacked proper processes and tools that are aligned with one another now run according to centralized and well-defined processes.

HCL's knowledge of the client's systems and business processes has increased to the extent that HCL can now support any kind of issue. The engagement now enjoys quick ramp –ups which is achieved by cross-training of resources, so that different kinds of work can be shared across the team.

The engagement is marked with a significant milestone when it succeeded in making the client's companies compliant with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

A long way to go...

The engagement aims to now define and implement a service delivery model based on the Information Technology and Infrastructure Library (ITIL) approach. It also plans to achieve uniformity across internal and vendor managed processes, thus bringing about a continuous value creation culture through employee participation. One major initiative is to transfer the client's helpdesk offshore.

Over the next three years, initiatives will be taken to define and implement the content management strategy, and review and define an application consolidation strategy in the UK.

There are plans to develop a centralized QA framework to ensure that standard QA policies are practiced across the client's business units. The plans also include building a monthly project quality audit system that would help the client to evaluate the quality of their vendors.

The journey of the client that started with IT being a tool to address concerns of process efficiencies has now reached a milestone where this leading publishing giant considers IT as a strategic enabler to create business impact.

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