An ArtsProfessional feature in partnership with Yesplan

Events are fickle things, prone to frequent last-minute changes that can cause chaos. Could your venue’s systems benefit from further digitisation? Andrew Thomas considers the issues.

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You’ve probably heard this one before – tech companies claiming, rightly or wrongly, that the product or service they are offering spells the end of a paper-based system. Calendars, notepads and magazines have all been proclaimed dead a few times over by now.

The challenge for venue management professionals is to provide solutions that link the planning and delivery teams of events seamlessly

It’s wise to be cautious. I remember watching an episode of Dragons’ Den when an entrepreneur was met with the feedback: “Congratulations – you have invented a solution that does not work to a problem that does not exist!” You’ll agree with me that the opposite is far more desirable: technological solutions should a) work and b) solve a problem.

Shared schedules

To enable sharing and collaboration using a common system is technology at its best. However, where new tech solutions arise, some difficulties tend to pop up as well. The key question is how to decide which of those systems or processes would actually benefit from digitisation or even automation.

A recurring issue you might have encountered yourself revolves around the never-quite-so-final status of production schedules. Even moving the start of an event forward by 15 minutes will have a domino effect, with implications for not only the technical staff, but also front of house, the caterer and many other supporting departments.

Events are fickle things, prone to frequent last-minute changes which can cause chaos across the organisation. As soon as one call sheet rolls from the printer, your caterer calls to ask if the frozen dessert can be brought in hours before the hors d’oeuvres. Sigh.

These sort of schedule mix-ups usually have consequences. Other staff members will have to call in earlier to set up shop, the cleaning team will have to make the kitchen squeaky clean earlier than planned and the concierge may have to let everyone in a few hours before the originally convened time.

Working smarter

Looking at the bigger picture though, it’s about more than just sending out updated schedules to your team. It’s about smart business solutions. Because if you move a whole schedule forward, you’ll risk the staff either not being in place on time or not being briefed at all. Then again, moving the times back could mean your staff reporting too early, adding costs to the event, which I doubt a producer, internal or external, will be too happy about.

The challenge for venue management professionals is to provide solutions that link the planning and delivery teams of events seamlessly. Organisations use Yesplan to enable planners and staff to see where and when they are needed. Everyone involved in running events can access their tasks and allocation of duties with just a few clicks, or as a read-only feed in their personal calendars (a life-saver for casual team members).

Print potential

Despite offering a wide range of digital outputs for communicating each schedule with team members, the question still sometimes asked is “Can we print it?”. “Yes!” is the answer. But does anyone actually need to?

The Yesplan team of account managers often works to deliver custom reporting, creating the potential to produce paper reports – only to see that they are never run. When they ask team leaders why nothing is ever printed, the reply is often that they find it easier to use the information purely in an online version.

So while print is not dead, it’s certainly getting closer to retirement. There are smarter and quicker ways of doing the jobs that venues do every day, all the while keeping everyone in the loop without having to cut down patches of rainforest. It’s a win–win solution.

Andrew Thomas is an independent technology consultant, currently working with Yesplan, a Cloud-based venue management and planning system designed and supplied exclusively to cultural organisations.

Find out more about Yesplan and its potential to streamline venue operations at the Yesplan on tour event on Tuesday 21 November.

This article is an advertising feature sponsored and contributed by Yesplan.

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