August 14, 2018

Four Months In

Road trip reflecting on the first several months at Cengage

By: Rich P., Sr Systems Analyst

Reflecting on my first several months at Cengage makes me think how quickly time has sped by while creating the illusion that I have been here much longer. Apart from orientation about an “education and technology company built for learners” and the Higher-Ed, K-12, professional, and library markets that it serves, reflecting also makes me think about sharing my journey in a series of blog posts.

This initial post represents the beginning of that journey at four months in.


Work focuses on what was formerly known as Creo, now renewed as the DFP program and CCP platform (DFP – Digital First Publishing, CCP – Cengage Content Pipeline). I promise not to offload acronyms; as for the etymology of Creo, speculation revolves around the Latin root “to create”.

Our aim is to move from a print optimized to digital first environment, taking the complexity out of the process while reducing time-to-market and achieving a higher level of content quality. Any variation of digital first could apply – digital first authoring at scale, publishing, only, transformation, disruption.


Work is a collaboration across multiple teams guided by Agile coaches and practices to help iterate and deliver business value in two-week sprints. A kind of living backlog where requirements evolve is the source for those sprints. I am part of the team that is building the authoring tool. The team includes valued members from enterprise architecture, software engineering, the content architecture and engineering teams, über experts on integration, our vendors, and quality assurance professionals. We are all directed by a technical product manager representing and working with the business to get at “what” and “why”.

Understanding “for whom” requires still more work. Fully developing personas and refining the user experience will help ensure that the business value we deliver resonates with those engaged in the work of moving content through the pipeline.


To make it real, under construction is an entire ecosystem of data models, applications, services, tools, and integrations superimposed across a content lifecycle, which includes authoring, assembly, and publishing among other stages. Most intriguing and still largely a mystery to me is the use of metamodels, creating higher levels of abstraction to transform files et cetera – an area in which to dig deeper while growing knowledge of the ecosystem. My mental model started to solidify last month after having separated what was already built out from planned inside of a kind of fuzzy architectural present tense that someone recently called proleptic.


While the infrastructure is being built, the business has an opportunity to rethink the look and feel of digital beyond the print to digitization model that exists today. Discussions have started and will likely accelerate, particularly with the Learning Center of Excellence and Learning Designers. In parallel, we have identified and are working with early adopters who will transition to the CCP platform within the next several months.

At the end of the day, it is all about improving the learning experience.

To be continued…