Solutions

Prominent university publisher manages essential production and marketing data with an extensive FileMaker Pro database system.
With up to 250 new titles issued each year, the task of keeping track of essential production and marketing procedures falls to FileMaker Pro.

Harvard University Press

Harvard University Press is one of the world's leading publishers of scholarly books, specializing in volumes for the well–educated general reader on subjects ranging from history and politics, to education and science, to art and philosophy. With up to 250 new titles issued each year, the task of keeping track of essential production and marketing procedures falls to FileMaker Pro.

Overview

  • Publisher of a full range of scholarly books in fields ranging from history and philosophy to psychology and education, affiliated with Harvard University.
  • Based in Cambridge, MA
  • Approximately 80 employees

Industry

  • Higher Education
  • Printing/Publishing
  • Information Technology

Solutions

  • Over 100 FileMaker Pro databases organizing essential functions in the editorial, production, sales, and marketing departments

Benefits

  • Data is readily exported from FileMaker Pro into SQL and XML–based tools
  • All–in–one–place organization of book data facilitates efficient preparation of promotional and catalog literature
  • FileMaker Pro backend allows easy updates of website

Pretty much everyone in the organization uses the system — on any given day there's from 30 to 50 people accessing our FileMaker Pro server at any one time.

— Rosemary Tietge, Publishing Technology Manager, Harvard University Press

Business Challenge

Employing about eighty people at its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press learned long ago the value of FileMaker Pro in organizing its data. "We've been using FileMaker since about 1990," comments Publishing Technology Manager Rosemary Tietge. "We need to be able to keep track of everything about our books, all the data and all the metadata. What's the title? Who's the author? How much does the book cost? What's the ISBN number? How many times have we printed it, and when did we last print it? And how much did it cost us to print the last time we printed it? That's the nuts and bolts of book information."

But the need for such careful documentation doesn't end when the book is finally published and shipped. The marketing of the finished product is equally important, with a large file of customer contact information to be processed, reviews and media reference to be collected, and promotional copy to be prepared. Here again, FileMaker Pro is up to the challenge.

Successful Solution

Harvard University Press maintains a system of over 100 individual FileMaker Pro databases, evolved and expanded over nearly fifteen years of use. "The workgroups using the system include our editorial, design, production, and marketing departments," explains Rosemary, "and our accounting department also uses it to access basic information about our titles. Pretty much everyone in the organization uses the system — on any given day there's from 30 to 50 people accessing our FileMaker Pro server at any one time."

FileMaker Pro integrates smoothly with the other data management systems in use at the Harvard University Press offices, including an SQL server used by the accounting and production departments. "To get things into that database we actually export a flat file from FileMaker, and then have an import routine into the SQL server." Rosemary continues. "We have a live connection to update our web shopping cart with availability information that we enter into FileMaker Pro, and then at the click of a button, ODBC updates to our web database. We also share data that originates in FileMaker Pro with our Industry Fulfillment System, which is currently all done manually — we print a report from FileMaker Pro and someone then keys it into the fulfillment system.

Pretty much everyone in the organization uses the system — on any given day there's from 30 to 50 people accessing our FileMaker Pro server at any one time.

— Rosemary Tietge, Publishing Technology Manager, Harvard University Press

Customer Benefits

Efficiencies abound in the Harvard University Press FileMaker Pro system, especially in the marketing department. FileMaker Pro allows the catalog preparation team to select titles, categorize them, link them to capsule reviews and biographical information on the author, and then export a neatly–compiled catalog entry for that book directly into Quark XPress, where the design team does the rest. "Our designers don't have to worry about re–keying data or cutting and pasting from somewhere," Rosemary observes. "They get the template, and all they need to do is make the copy fit the page and then add the pictures and color."

The designers of the Harvard University Press website enjoy a similar advantage, drawing data directly from the FileMaker Pro databases and using this information to generate finished web pages. And the design of these pages can be updated at any time, with no need to reimport the data. "I don't need to do anything when the web designers want to change the look of the page, because of the way we've implemented what we do," adds Rosemary. "All they do is change the template the export runs against, and we get whatever the new look is."

An added benefit is that FileMaker Pro also works well with ONIX, the book industry's standardized XML grammar for handling publishing data, allowing rapid communication with retailers and distributors, and streamlining a process that, because of various incompatible data formats, used to take days or weeks to complete. "Now that everyone in the book industry has agreed we all want ONIX, we create one document," Rosemary explains. "Our assistant sales director is able to go to that document, validate it using standard open source tools, and then send it out to our customers. And it takes a couple hours instead of most of a week to communicate with all those parties."

Expectations are high for the coming upgrade to FileMaker Pro 7, with Rosemary looking forward to improved database performance and smoother functionality thanks to a planned reworking of the user interface. "We're also looking to use FileMaker Pro to streamline our internal workflow," she adds, "which will, we hope, allow us to be a more nimble publisher, better able to serve our authors and get our projects done in a timely fashion."

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Harvard University Press:

Rosemary Tietge
Publishing Technology Manager
Harvard University Press
617-495-8565
http://www.hup.harvard.edu
rosemary_tietge@harvard.edu