Feb. 2005, Digial Queue Newsletter—Prepress is an important part of the printing process. This is where files get checked and approved, errors are caught, and jobs get routed to the right place. But how do you ensure that your staff is capable of handling anything that comes their way? By instituting a training program. If you decide to create a program in-house, rather than hire an outside firm to do it, here are some tips to get you started.
Why implement a training program? Why not just train once and let that be the end of it? According to Julie Jankowski, vice president strategic development, Prepress Training Solution, hardware and software upgrades are necessary to remain competitive. "Training should be continual to ensure that employees can utilize the software and hardware in the most efficient and productive manner."
Training ensures that your staff is always up-to-date on the latest and greatest technologies. This way, when a new, up-to-date client comes in the door, you not only know that all your systems will be compatible, but you can answer any questions they might have about the system. It is another way to add value to your services.
For the most effective employees, an ongoing program should be used. There are some options with online components that employees can access any time they are free. If you plan to create a program in-house, plan for sessions of around two hours each, according to Jankowski. This will vary according to the software programs you are training on, but two hours will ensure the information does not become overwhelming. Set up a rotating schedule that ensures adequate, dedicated training time while allowing for enough staff to get the current jobs completed.
The exact training program and approach will vary from shop to shop. However, there are some basic software programs and skills you will want to consider. Programs that you will want to keep your prepress staff up—to-date on include the Mac OS; page layout programs such as InDesign, Quark or both, sometimes even Microsoft Publisher; imaging programs like Photoshop and Illustrator; PDF applications; font management; and imposition.
Jankowski advises focusing on the Mac OS first, including font management. Then, depending on your workflow, focus on the programs you use most frequently and are most important to you productivity.
"Training is often overlooked as tight production deadlines are continually looming," said Jankowski. "However, with the rapid rate of software upgrades, it is imperative to offer training to employees to ensure that the lack of familiarity with new programs does not negatively affect efficiency or productivity."