“We like publishing”. This is how Jordi Nadal, founder of Plataforma Editorial, summarises the origins, essence and purpose of the business he has run since 2007. Plataforma is an independent publishing house founded in Barcelona that has published nearly 1,000 titles for a Spanish-speaking audience. Its catalogue includes fiction —starting with the reissue of The Life Before Us, by Émile Ajar, the first novel published by Plataforma as a founding work— and non-fiction: titles on psychology, health, personal development, business, education and current affairs; among these numerous well-known and much-used bestsellers.
Plataforma was taking its first steps when the 2008-2014 Spanish financial crisis broke out. Jordi Nadal and his team live in a world of words, but even back then they were aware of the importance of numbers, and of analysing data in order to make quality decisions that would allow them to improve their position in a market badly hit by the recession. “Decisions must be based on information; when you have the ability to interpret it, data allows you to minimise the space for intuition. Those who do not rely on data often have a very intuitive or impulsive thought process, which to me seems inadvisable in the business world,” says Nadal.
In the search of the business intelligence that would allow the company to monitor its own performance and compare it against its competitors, Plataforma selected the Plimsoll analysis on the Spanish publishing industry. The analysis provided the team with the data they needed to stop navigating blindly. Nadal uses a metaphor to illustrate the scope of the information that Plimsoll has provided him over the years: “When you drive a car, if you ignore the speedometer you risk having an accident. Plimsoll is the dashboard that makes me drive better and not on autopilot, which in this case would be the equivalent of being misinformed. The data Plimsoll offers helps me to calibrate, analyse, compare and, in short, try to improve ratios in the areas where I could do better. The analysis collects objective, relevant, sensible and complete information; it is the control panel that measures what I should not ignore under any circumstances”.
Now on the verge of its 15th year, Plataforma is proud of its commercial and financial results, which Plimsoll has acknowledged for the last eight years with its Certificate of Business Excellence. The business is ranked among the 100 largest Spanish publishing companies in terms of sales —in the top 20 if we only consider the youngest companies—, its profit margins are high, its level of debt is virtually null and it stands out in the human resources field, with high productivity and an average salary above the rest of the industry. Nadal believes that the consultation and correct interpretation of the publishing industry analysis are part of this success: “We have observed objective annual improvements in all the fields that the tool has pointed out, and to which we have applied intelligent corrective measures. Plimsoll does not solve problems, no metric does, but it gives you key elements to make the right decisions. I do not share the thinking of those companies that do not rely on external financial analysis; in my opinion, what Plimsoll offers is a vaccine against ignorance”.
The publishing company has established a productive, long-lasting relationship with Plimsoll based on two factors: Nadal’s trust in the quality of the data and insights, and the customer service he has received. He underscores the “fantastic” attention he has experienced from Plimsoll’s team, who continue to work diligently to ensure his staff have the information they require. Following their advice, Plataforma has expanded the use of the analysis as benchmarking tool and monitors data on other industries to increase its client portfolio and assess its supply chain, among other actions helping them to thrive as a publishing business.
Plataforma recommends the use of the Plimsoll analysis to all growth-hungry business leaders. “Making decisions without the tools to measure them is suicidal,” Nadal insists, quoting the physicist and mathematician Lord Kelvin to support his advice: “What is not defined cannot be measured. What is not measured, cannot be improved. What is not improved, is always degraded”.