A global marketing and communications services provider has achieved increased production efficiency and accuracy for its clients using DALIM ES, DIALOGUE Engine and TWIST.
Williams Lea Tag is a leading provider of marketing and communications supply chain services. It helps organisations transform their business processes, enhance customer conversations and realise the potential of their brands. The company’s solutions combine re-engineered processes, leading technologies and highly experienced collaborative client teams. As part of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, its financial strength and global reach enables it to deliver solutions anywhere in the world.
The client list today is a who’s who of global brand names, including BP, Ikea, Santander and BT; the services provided range from the supply of digital assets for online advertising to print-ready PDF files to translation and video production.
Much of the business is built on long-standing relationships, one of which is with DALIM SOFTWARE, whose products have been in regular use at Williams Lea since the early 1990s. “We are the largest UK user of TWIST, with 30-plus hard-workers,” confirms Lloyd Hayzer, Global Account Director, at the firm’s Aldgate, London, offices.
Another long-standing relationship is with DMG Media, the publishers of the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper and website, plus its weekend supplements, the Mail on Sunday and related brands. Since print advertising production switched from films and plates to digital files, Williams Lea Tag has relied heavily on its own in-house developed production management system, called CMD, to meet the needs of clients like DMG.
“We developed CMD in order to be masters of our own destiny, but our needs have become so diverse that we can’t be masters of everything, so we partner with various third parties to provide specific functions,” explains Hayzer.
One of the functions that has been ‘outsourced’ in this way is that of flatplanning. Hayzer and his colleagues had considered DALIM SOFTWARE’s MISTRAL but felt at the time it was ‘too weighty’ for their needs and instead developed a bespoke capability in-house. “This served us well at the time but in recent years the rate of development tailed off,” he recalls, so in 2015 Hayzer and his team were tasked with finding a third-party alternative.
“CMD flatplan was purely a client-facing production tool, showing page thumbnails,” explains Hayzer, “but with the continued development of CMD, we needed new a new flatplanning tool to keep up with the advancements in CMD.”
Some heavyweight options were investigated but cross-over with CMD’s feature set meant that they would not have been cost-effective, as the functionality was largely in content management.
DALIM ES provided the solution. When Williams Lea Tag looked at earlier versions of DALIM SOFTWARE’s production management tool, they felt it was more focused on printers’ production needs. However, the addition of support for direct file editability via an InDesign plug-in in version 5 meant that the printers’ tool was now equally focused toward publishers.
“Our clients wanted to do more themselves, or to have us manage the process for them and provide automation at the back end. DALIM ES gives a nice interface to the client’s world, giving them and us the access to fill in the gaps,” says Hayzer.
“With DALIM TWIST sitting behind ES, we were confident that this would deliver. It was a big factor that it fitted well with existing workflows and brought the opportunity to go on to digital media,” he adds.
As the incumbent supplier for DALIM support, LGS was the natural partner for Williams Lea Tag to propose and implement the ES-based system, but Hayzer concedes, “We did push them hard; we needed to know that it would service the client’s needs.”
Creative support for The Mail
In early 2016, Williams Lea Tag was invited to pitch for a project to take on artwork creation for the Daily Mail’s marketing department.
“They were looking for processes to be put in place and someone to manage production while their core team provided top-line creative input,” explains Hayzer. “I showed them ES in our presentation, but DIALOGUE Engine was the big selling point, as they were using manual paper-based methods for managing and tracking revisions and approvals.”
Having won the tender, the entire production process was mapped out by DALIM SOFTWARE’s UK integrator LGS, using ES to implement the folder structure desired by the client and to generate a briefing form to their specifications.
“We worked with LGS to develop a bespoke creative management form that would provide a quick way to ingest client briefs and get the necessary assets out to the studios. We used ES to create this, covering every element and media type for each Daily Mail brand. The user logs in under the appropriate brand and sees every media type they need. The aim is to make it as simple as possible, based on templates – if it’s an ad, for example, there’ll be a drop-down menu for the available sizes.”
Configuring workflow to match DMG practices for reviews and approvals was taken in ES’s stride. “We built the workflow around the people, giving them what they wanted to see, when they wanted to see it,” says Hayzer, adding, “There was some customisation for the eight brand groups, tailored to user profiles ranging from super-users to read-only accounts.”
The original focus in the DMG project was to manage advertising assets, content and the creative process. This included transferring legacy data including InDesign templates and ThinkStock images so that ES could serve as a portal to both old and new assets, advert artwork and master templates. This was not implemented in a full-blown digital asset management (DAM) configuration, but by simply replicating an existing folder structure that was familiar to DMG users. Because the storage is now cloud-based, the system is accessible from any studio.
Expanding role for ES
Since going live with DALIM ES 5 in July 2016, the usage has expanded. The flatplan capabilities of ES are used for Daily Mail home supplements, while in addition to advert artwork and related digital assets, the system also now hosts some point-of-sale artwork.
Advertising production remains the main application, however, mostly for print in the Daily Mail stable of newspapers, with ten or a dozen house ads being produced each day, plus two or three supplements a week. DMG has been able to reduce its internal headcount thanks to the creative artworking capability that Williams Lea Tag can offer via DALIM ES. The system’s approval capabilities for sign-off on creatives and the automatic audit trail are also a big plus point for DMG, Hayzer reports.
John Tucker at DMG Media says: “Thanks to Williams Lea Tag’s investment in DALIM tools we have been able to focus our in-house resource on the top-line for the Creative Marketing department at DMG Media, confident that advertisement artwork will be created and distributed quickly and reliably. The review and audit trail via DIALOGUE Engine has greatly simplified the approval process for us and both this and the job briefing workflow have been matched exactly to our requirements, saving time and increasing accuracy.”
The success of the project has enabled both Williams Lea Tag and LGS to develop their relationships with DMG, as well as building both companies’ capability to serve other projects and clients. Hayzer and his colleagues at Williams Lea Tag are using the ES flatplan capability to produce fashion retailer Net-a-Porter’s print magazine starting in Q2 2017, and there are plans to use ES and DIALOGUE Engine for classified advertising makeup in London’s free daily paper Metro.