EMC Design is a company of  ‘out-of-house’ professionals who work tirelessly to meet in-house deadlines, and adapt to the individual needs of each publishing client. We have been working in this way for over 25 years and have learned a thing or two along the way. Last month a group of us attended BookMachine’s “Managing, inspiring and evaluating your out-of-house workforce” event in London, and we’ve since been reflecting on what pointers we could share.

  1. Allow enough time

As designers and project managers, we have worked on the most extensive courses and the tightest schedules. We sweat every detail on each page to create the highest quality publishing projects for clients of all sizes, regardless of the time frame. However, in our experience, the most successful projects are those where sufficient time has been spent on the manuscript, and the schedule allows an adequate period to gather feedback from each stakeholder. Forward planning and communicating a brief to out-of-house teams as early as possible makes a huge difference.

  1. It’s all in the brief

Aside from profit, publishing projects tend to be measured in three ways – time taken to complete, budget available and budget spent, and the quality of the publication. As an out-of-house agency we need clear direction to help you to achieve these objectives. Open briefs, which may leave the team second-guessing what you want, can waste precious time which we could be spent designing. The more detail you can give us the better, to achieve the optimum result.  If you need to know more about how to brief your design team, then read our recent post on: How to write a design brief and why it’s important to get right.

  1. Plan for meetings

Meetings are all about decision-making. If there are no decisions to be made, then there is often no need for a meeting. The cast-iron exceptions are with new working relationships where teams are getting to know each other or at handover to substantial new projects. From an agency perspective, this helps us to understand your priorities. So if the meeting is worth organising,  then setting a clear agenda can help keep everyone focused. Handover meetings can be crucial as it allows both sides to meet each other face-to-face and to have the chance to really understand and ask questions about the brief.

  1. Put all your eggs in one basket

We work in teams with a Design Manager in charge. Having this one-point-of-contact can save time and improve communication. What else can your out-of-house workforce manage for you? EMC Design, for example, can manage film and audio commissioning, artwork and photo research.  We have a beady-eyed Creative Services team who can project manage meticulously the most intricate titles or series. Why liaise with a range of out-of-house colleagues, when one point of contact can organise your workload in a more streamlined fashion?

  1. Take time to give feedback

Everyone at any given stage of their career can benefit from receiving honest feedback on their work. At EMC Design we employ some of the best people that the industry and associated disciplines have to offer. As in publishing houses, we give regular reviews and appraisals. However, constructive comment from clients is indispensable too. The best design work comes when designers are confident – and the more feedback we pass on, the more we can excel.

The event was a really great evening, celebrating the many out of house resources the industry has to offer. You can a read full round-up of the event here and we hope to see you at the next one soon.