Editorial Solutions, Inc.
Quantitative performance standards must cover online editorial workload
by Howard Rauch, president, Editorial Solutions, Inc.
The challenge to establish digital workload standards clearly is more complex than hurdles posed
by print. But there is a clear need to devise a policy covering realistic expectations in terms of time
required to complete a variety of online editorial tasks.
With print, analysis is based on six well-defined work categories: (1) Original writing; (2) editing
work of others (3) production activity; (4) travel; (5) article recruitment; (6) miscellaneous
administrative tasks. With digital, there are at least a dozen components worth examining.
Several years ago I conducted a pioneer poll seeking specific online performance yardsticks. The
emerging data -- based on interviews with 16 B2B editorial managers -- remains valid as a
jumping off point for any study you may be contemplating:
*Based on a 40-hour work week (or a 20-day work month), estimate total percent of time devoted
to digital activity. When my pioneer study was conducted, most respondents reported 60 percent
of total workload devoted to print . . . 40 percent to online activity.
*Next draw up your list of major digital time-eaters. Most likely that list will parallel findings noted
in the pioneer study. Topping the list was e-news involvement, which clearly could be sub-divided
into three categories: (1) original writing; (2) editing work of others; (3) searching for story leads.
The second important time-eater was social media activity, which in some cases included blogging
and monitoring of discussion forums.
*Other time-eaters -- shown here in descending order of involvement required -- were posting
and updating, production (including coding/sizing activity), webinars and videos, writing exclusive
web-only features. Further down the list were analytics review, digital magazine contributions and
site redesign meetings. In a few cases, the latter category was considered to have nuisance value
*Take the first two categories on your time-eater list and attempt to establish hours required per
week to fulfill each category. You may find, for example, that if you assumed a 16-hour per week
devotion to all online tasks, the top two time-eaters actually require 10 hours. So you have only
six hours to accomplish a multitude of other tasks. In other words, somehow you have painted
yourself into a non-performance corner. It's time to consider possible remedies.
It is conceivable that when the dust settles, you may find that your alleged 20-hour digital time
per week has morphed into a 25-30-hour (or longer) journey. Existing time allotted to digital may
be sufficient to allow you to meet quantitative deadlines. But reaching qualitative standards is
another matter, especially when it comes to e-news writing.
Many industry gurus think judgments about content will be influenced by evidence of enterprise
and exclusivity. Within the time frame available to you now, how well do you deliver on these
requirements -- compared to your toughest competitors? What would it take in terms of time for
you to be assured bragging rights during head-to-head confrontations?
Feel free to address any questions about the above process to me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or call (201) 569-7714.