Embrace the potential of no-code automation

In February, we kicked off our BookMachine Unplugged event series for 2022 with Talking Production. Our panellists presented a fascinating, practical and exciting discussion into the rise of the ‘no-code’ movement, automating workflows and how this can be put to proper use within the publishing industry. 

Ken Jones

The event began with host Ken Jones, Director at Circular Software and a member of the BookMachine Editorial Board, introducing our topic. Ken highlighted a central problem in publishing production today: software is inaccessible to the majority of professionals. Only 1 in 400 people are versed in a coding language – but there is a need to make coding accessible, which would allow anyone to design and build software. No-code is one way of approaching this.

The real strength of ‘no-code’ tools – such as Ken’s favourite, Webflow – is how they allow you to customise your own automated programme and tailor it to your current workflow. They don’t require a drastic change in your daily work, or require extensive training to get to grips with completely new software – an added bonus for our already busy workloads!

How can we bring no-code into the publishing world?

Nile Frater, Founder of nocode.tech, was our first speaker. Nocode.tech provides a useful catalogue of the best no-code tools and the specialties of each, to better inform users which no-code tool would work best in their workflow. Nile highlighted that, even though we won’t be relying on coders to implement changes, no-code still requires you to think logically and consider thorough breakdown of your workflow in order to set up your tools and enabling them to work together. So a coding mindset is still very key!

Nile’s top recommended no-code platforms included: 

  • Stacker – for internal tools
  • Bubble – most versatile
  • Airtable – can create online collaboration databases
  • Zapier – connects other no-code tools together
  • Typeform – survey tool
  • Bonus: WAMZ stack – a combination of Webflow, Airtable, Memberstack and Zapier

Getting started with automation

Kelly Goss, business process automation specialist and Founder of Solvaa, was up next. She outlined the benefits of automation as helping you to save money and time, reduce errors, and free up your teams to focus on tasks that require creative thinking. She mentions that connector tools allow users to use more than one tool, set up communication between tools, and perform various functions in a more complex process. 

But how do we know what we should be automating? Kelly provided some useful steps for getting started:

  1. Make a list of all the software you use
  2. Understand how you go from start to finish in each of your tasks – list the steps in every task
  3. Identify what software you use in each step
  4. Streamline your tasks – make them as simple as possible
  5. Research and decide which software can best accommodate your needs
  6. Identify what triggers and what actions are available within this software
  7. Build, assess and revise your processes on a continuous basis

Get some real-world inspirational

To wrap up, Bonnier Books provided a case study of how no-code automation can be put to use within the publishing industry, to inspire us with a practical example of what can be achieved.

During the pandemic, the Bonnier team needed to overhaul their sales processes. All physical assets were replaced with digital, and a portal was created to incorporate these into their sales practices. Within a few weeks, a proof of concept site was built – much faster than could be created through traditional website development – and they were able to showcase their titles digitally anywhere around the world.

Bonnier previously estimated that they spent 1,500 hours in one year preparing materials for book fairs. After automation, they reduced this to 800 hours! 

Kieran Hood and Helen Wicks outlined the key benefits that Bonnier now enjoys:

  • Seamless integration into their pre-existing workflow
  • Storage in the Cloud
  • Documents and information are always up to date
  • Improvement in sales experience for employees and clients
  • Ability to control and secure access to material
  • Easy, convenient access for all of their stakeholders

Want to know more? BookMachine members can watch the full event recording in the Unplugged video archives. Not a member? Join the community here.

Sign up to our next Unplugged event, Talking Tech, on 11th May.