Case Studies

Bedford/St Martin’s

Bedford/St. Martin’s is a leading publishing company with offices in Boston and New York, specializing in the publication of humanities textbooks. It is the largest publisher of textbooks for English composition courses, as well as a leading publisher in the disciplines of history, literature, communications, and music.


Bedford/St Martin’s (BSM) was established in 1981 as an imprint of St Martin’s Press. Its textbooks are commonly used in advanced placement and college courses, and include the best-selling textbook in the United States, A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker, which is now in its sixth edition.


BSM was in need of a content management system that would allow them to access and manage documents from one centralized repository, with clearly defined and automated workflow processes that would facilitate cross-organizational collaboration, such as reviewing copy, cover art, chapter order etc.

The existing workflow processes were manual and laborious, leading to inefficiencies and impracticalities. The new system needed the capacity to allow upwards of 20 users to review and make comments simultaneously, providing input on artwork and documents. BSM was also seeking extended functionality, in particular support for multiple users, full revision history of actions and comments, and automatic sending of notification emails to reviewers and collaborators.


With experience in creating and integrating powerful content solutions, Ixxus North America (previously Rothbury Software) was chosen to design a new document management system for BSM.

Ixxus has a detailed knowledge of the challenges facing today’s publishing industry, with an extensive background of working with large Publishing and Media clients, including FOX, Harvard University Press go2.

After in-depth discussion with staff to identify requirements, Alfresco Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system was selected to provide a custom content solution which would cater to the specific needs of BSM staff. Alfresco offers a robust architecture which is highly scalable and offers all the benefits of open source, including cost-effectiveness, no vendor lock-in and impressive community support. SproutCore technology was chosen to provide the JavaScript framework with an HTML5 user friendly GUI, as this would provide cross platform functionality and the ability to serve the app to mobile devices as well as conventional desktop.

Bedford St Martins workflow

By leveraging Alfresco, Ixxus successfully designed and implemented a new, more user-friendly, time-efficient and cost-effective document management system. This is a custom system which allows users to quickly add multiple reviewers, assign certain reviewers the ability to reject workflows, quickly upload and add multiple files to the workflow, allot specific amounts of time for each reviewer to complete their task, and attach a specific name and description to each workflow, whilst also providing XML-based reporting on completed workflows.

Custom functionality includes:

  • HTML5 integration communicating through REST API with the Alfresco repository
  • Allowing reviewers to be removed and reordered on the fly
  • Ability for a Super User to step in for absent reviewers
  • Fully viewable revision history of actions and comments
  • Automatic email notifications
  • Skinning based on Client’s corporate theme

Bedford St Martins workflowResults

  • Ability to quickly initiate workflows without needing to add files
  • Allows for upwards of 20 reviewers
  • Organized and streamlined reviewing process
  • Option to automatically notify reviewers
  • Separate permissions for different reviewers
  • Ability to quickly add files
  • Provides history of comments and actions
  • Provides XML reporting


Within the new system, workflow processes have been made much simpler and more automated, freeing up staff time and enabling easy collaboration on documents. It is now much easier to initiate a workflow, and – unlike in most document management systems – it is possible to start a workflow without any files attached. Workflow administrators have the ability to set due dates, priority level and collaborator permissions, and to decide whether to send emails to reviewers to alert them when it is their turn to review a document.

Managing review items, documents and collaborators can be done through an easy-to-use interface, and search can easily be customized and filtered to show required users and projects.

The new CMS has vastly improved collaboration across the company, making it simple for staff to review, comment on and approve the various types of content that make up the lifeblood of a busy publishing house – from book covers through to the very copy itself. Automated, user-intuitive workflow processes mean that efficiency has been increased, saving time and effort across the company and allowing staff to move away from laborious, manual methods. As a direct result of these improvements, staff are free to act in a way that is more cost-effective, time-efficient and digitally empowered.

“From the start it was a pleasure working with them,” said Eugene Chang, IT Director at BSM, “They came in, answered any questions we had, and most importantly, really listened to our needs. They were then able to programmatically turn our vision into a working application both quickly and accurately. I look forward to working with them in the future regarding all of our Alfresco needs.”

At the current time, Ixxus remains engaged with BSM and carries out ad-hoc work on a rolling basis; most recently, a full redesign of the CMS into Alfresco 4, ensuring that the system remains up-to-date and allowing the client to get the full benefit of Alfresco’s powerful functionality.

Date Published : 13th of October 2014