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Why your firm should set up a desktop publishing function

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Too often companies rely on important documents that are put together by people who don’t have the necessary creative or technical skills, and who, quite frankly, have better things to do with their time.

The alternative is to set up a dedicated Document Production (DP) or Desktop Publishing (DTP) function within your company – a team who will do all that work for you and your clients.

We had a chat with an experienced Document Production Manager to get his advice on putting together a dedicated team to ensure your documentation is high-quality, consistent, and delivered on time.

Do only large firms benefit from having a DP or DTP team?

I guess this depends on the vision, drive and ambition of the individual firm, as some smaller firms are focused on their external profile and how effectively they deliver to their clients. The size of these functions and the resources required would obviously depend on the number of business users which can often increase as users recognise the value of this service.

What is the difference between Desktop Publishing and Document Production?

In my experience, a good Document Production function provides a firm with an efficient and dependable support service, producing client content in the established house style and visual identity.

Desktop Publishing introduces a more collaborative and consultative support offering, where content can be interpreted and delivered in a creative and visual way. Desktop Publishing brings a different set of skills that is likely to be innovative and challenge production processes and operations. It provides consultancy, creativity, design and ideas, innovation and also a project management element.

What benefits does DTP offer over DP?

A good Desktop Publishing function would work closely with the business to conceptualise key messages and deliverables and help the finished product stand out from the competitors. The firm’s content is probably great, but giving it that quality finish that DTP can deliver helps to make it more inspiring and appealing for the reader while projecting a strong visual identity.

Which stakeholders need to be involved if you want to set up a centralised DTP team?

That depends on the culture of the firm and the current support structure.

The Managing Partner and Department Managers need to be engaged and supportive of the change programme. As you go through this type of transition you will require the support of the business behind you.

My experience has also shown that PAs and secretaries are a great influential group to get on side because they often have good relationships with their managers which can help manage the change process.

What are the challenges of setting up a DTP function, and how can you avoid them?

You can experience some negativity and opposition towards the change, which can be challenging. If a PA/Secretary is providing document support to an individual partner or manager, then there may be some emotional resistance towards changing the service due to their established working relationship and a sense that their dedicated support is being taken away. You need to be able to respond to these concerns by articulating the advantages this will bring.

You must engage with the business and welcome honest and open communications by creating opportunities for people to comment. I believe open-door feedback is vital to the success of any good service. Set realistic milestones, don’t bite off more than you can chew and be truthful about what you can achieve within the timeframe.

You need to identify talent and create opportunities to bring the team on the journey with you. Set clear objectives and goals, so everyone understands their part in achieving success.

What is needed to maintain the function?

I believe strong leadership as well as clear objectives and expectations are needed. I think a robust workflow process is vital to manage expectations and fluctuating demand. You need to become guardians of the firm’s brand and set the standards for quality. It can be difficult to maintain consistency if there’s not a clear standard to follow. Become an essential part of the business – be in a position where they can’t be without you.

It’s about working in partnership with the business and freeing up fee-earners’ time. Be the trusted advisors rather than a reactive support service.

How can you know if your company would benefit from a dedicated DTP function?

I believe most industries would benefit from a dedicated support function that can deliver excellent client service and efficiencies, along with improved creativity and quality. Many firms may have established support services but is there an opportunity to review how effective these are? Are firms still getting the right service to support the changing needs of their business and their clients? Is the current model delivering on expectation and meeting demand?

Do you think your firm would benefit from a DP or DTP team? Email Carly on cmcdermott@devonshire.co.uk to get the information and resources you need to introduce a DTP function.

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