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ECPA Wire: Industry Issues

Moving from Suppliers to Strategic Partners

Wednesday, December 1, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: ECPA
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How to select strategic partners in the digital age

E-Link, December 2010

With publishing in the midst of a true sea change, the need to re-evaluate your publishing business is no longer simply a part of a five-year strategic planning session, but is literally an imminent and ongoing necessity for survival in the digital age.  Many publishers have been forced to make the difficult decisions in trimming personnel and positions from departments that can no longer be supported in a recessionary economy -- all during one of the greatest shifts in how people access information since the advent of the printing press. 

Publishers are facing growing needs created by an emerging and competitive digital content marketplace.  While this new digital landscape is still largely uncharted, one thing is certain: publishers will need new people to help get them to where they need to go.  Whereas, the old publishing model supported secondary businesses run by publishers (i.e., warehousing and distribution), the new business model is all about focusing on your core competency: producing and curating great content while building solid relationships with your authors.  In a highly competitive "flat" world, outsourcing components of your business is something every company must consider.  With these challenges and a myriad of solution providers to choose from, the process of finding the right company to partner with can be daunting.

To help in that task, ECPA asked one of its newest member companies, SPi Content Solutions, to give us a few helpful tips for publishers working through this maze of options as they try to find the best fit for their company and mission.  This list is something that could be used as a template for choosing any service provider going forward and we hope you find it a useful resource.

  • Expertise. Service providers must have the scale and scope of services to support requirements over the next three to five years. Service providers who work across multiple segments of the information industry can help in implementing best practices.
  • Flexibility. Publishing is a dynamic industry today. This means changing requirements, rush jobs, volume variations, new business models and so on. Service providers must have the flexibility and capability to support these requirements.
  • Technology. Technology is becoming a big game-changer in the industry. Service providers must have the capability to integrate new technologies/platforms into their workflows. They must also have dedicated teams working on automation tools/process transformations that reduce TAT, enhance quality, and improve productivity.
  • Economics. Higher spends with the same provider should get savings. Service providers must have options such as pricing discounts based on cumulative spends. Pricing models may also include sharing of risks and rewards.
  • Governance. Strategic partnerships involve multiple relationships. Starting at the operational level, relationships are forged across both the organizations right to the executive committee. Service provides must have the experience and organizational ability to support this governance structure.

SPi Content Solutions has recently partnered with ECPA to develop solutions that meet the needs of its members. ECPA members are eligible for annual rebates.

If you would like to know more about SPi services, please visit or contact Lori Silverstein at

SPi Content Solutions provides a full suite of editorial, content production, conversion, customer support, and knowledge solutions to commercial publishers, society publishers, university presses, information providers, and corporate clients. With over 5,000 specialists in seven delivery centers across Philippines, India, and Vietnam supported by account managers in US and Europe, we have a long history of strategic partnership with our clients. Some of these relationships have been in place for nearly two decades.

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