Some interesting and varied responses to this Q, from single stations and freelancers to larger groups, using anything from paper and email to Outlook and vCreative!
Q It Up: What system do you use for processing production orders? Are you still using a paper production order? Handling it through email and Outlook’s Task Manager? Have you moved over to a project manager software platform or a specialized site like vCreative's PPO system? Maybe you’re using a team management site like Slack or something similar. What organizational tool or tools are you using to process production orders at your facility? How's it working for you? Pros and cons? Suggestions for others? Please add any other thoughts you have on the subject.
Dave Cockram, Indie88, Toronto, ON: When it was just myself and our copywriter it would all be on email, and I would print the scripts out myself. I was always CC'd on the production requests by the reps but never really looked at them. I just saved them in a separate folder in case I would need that information later... but… never have.
Gord Williams: I mostly rely on PayPal for the financial part. There have been few ordering or job specification type sheets or databases that haven't caused more questions than answers. Often, although we like to think we can work together on a remote and independent basis, it doesn't go that way.
I work through some agents that have a similar system, and there is a finite limit to the amount of retakes or do overs. Others I have eliminated because they are too vague as a job order. One such place continually gives instructions like "attractive", "personable" and similar. These orders tend to drop off the grid because typically they are auditioning more than one, and the client determines who makes it to the final round. Often clients are just as confused and drop projects because something just isn't right.
I tend to work with clients directly via Skype, phone patch, Google+ or similar. Once they hear what they like or want then they pay the invoice in order to get the copy. I offer them one retake but other than that, it’s off my plate as well.
Otherwise it’s back and forth with the descriptions. I am not a cut throat, but I sure am not going to debate about whether I delivered a pink elephant with polka dots. If they have an email they get the result of the session and it’s up to them whether to deploy or not.
Since I do not have a sales team combing the land for opportunities, and I am direct to client, there is a premium on my time to move along. From experience I know there is a tipping point where it all comes down around you. Nobody has shown me a system yet that captures the project info, invoices and pays while the romance factor is still in play.
It’s sad but they don't bring me flowers anymore either. Just like Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. Okay they never did.
Norm Kelly, CMG, Dayton, OH: We switched over from paper forms to (I believe a few years ago) vCreative’s paperless platform. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it, and while it’s not without a couple flaws, I couldn’t imagine going back to the old way.
It really is nice that it gives access to everyone tied to the account… to submit copy points, ask/answer questions, etc. In our building, we have: whoever the producer is, our traffic manager, the AE, and the AE’s coordinator who can all access each vCreative order, which cuts down on so much e-mail communication back and forth between several different people. When the audio for the account is completed, the producer uploads the spot to the order, hits Spot Review, and waits to hear back as to whether or not the spot is approved. Pretty efficient stuff. The AE/coordinators can also attach just about any kind of file for copy points so that the writer can easily open those up and work from there.
One of the other really cool benefits of vCreative is how we have it set up for voice sharing. Basically, every air talent, company-wide, receives an e-mail alert from vCreative when the producer puts out a “Voice Request.” If they feel like volunteering their voice for any of those spots, they simply upload their audio to the order, and BAM, I get reads from talent several states away, giving me some really great choices for different styles and tones.
On the down side, I found that, because using vCreative’s blog feature for each order is so easy, AE’s/coordinators use it to a fault sometimes. Some info that really needs to be conveyed to writers/producers in person, over the phone, or in a nice, explanatory e-mail, is only communicated via the blog in short bursts. I think their thoughts are “well, they’ll be able to figure out what I mean,” when, in reality, no, we probably won’t be able to.
The other downer would be (and this has thankfully been very rare) whenever vCreative is having problems with their servers/system. When that happens it’s like someone abruptly stopped our conveyer belt, and all we can do is sit here and wait for it to fire back up again. Like I said, that has been extremely rare, and is usually fixed pretty promptly.
Overall, the whole paperless process, at least utilizing vCreative specifically, gets a HUGE thumbs-up from me!
Mark "HayStack" Wells, 96.7 The Coyote | Star 101.5, Springdale, AR: We've been doing old-fashioned paper orders, but just signed up for the InfluenceFM platform, and can't wait to put it into use.
Matthys Pischke: Been using vCreative's PPO for over a year now.
Al Peterson, Radio America Network, Washington DC: It’s 2016 and we're still on paper. Why? Because software doesn't scream at you to get the job done *NOW NOW NOW !*
As a network, we don't deal with local advertisers, nor do we have to schedule a spotload for multiple stations. You buy a national show, or ROS on all our shows, and that's it.
Sales are entered through Counterpoint software, which also fills in the studio logs and automation load-ins. But for those of us down here in the sausage factory who still need to do the production, a big urgent piece of paper with red lettering gets it done.
Andrew Frame, BAFSoundWorks: As a freelancer, it's e-mail. I have one customer with a 12-station group spread out over a hundred miles that uses a broadcast specific content management system, but outside of them, everything is handled by e-mail.
I have tried in the past to get my customer base on to a CMS, but to them, rightly, it's just one more thing to learn and keep track of. E-mail wins for simplicity, track-ability, and familiarity.
It may not be as pretty as the CMSs, but it gets the job done.
Bill Carroll, WBQB/WFVA, Fredericksburg, VA: We were using the old fashioned paper PO for many many years, and it got to the point where filing was a bear, as well as where to put all of the old ones even from a previous year, and missing paperwork, etc. I process thousands per year (no joke), and it was time for me to come up with an electronic solution. So new for 2016 at our facility I’ve implemented an easy way to email through our company’s Outlook email client to receive paperless production orders that even have different categories. It’s a much more efficient way of handling the POs as well as hold accountable for mistakes and better cataloging information regarding each PO (ie: who’s voicing, if coming from an outside source, waiting on info, etc.) just by looking at a color coded system that I came up with. And Outlook has amazing tools to utilize my new system of handling these POs. It really is amazing the way it’s executed. Now all I have to do is to make sure the Sales Reps get there info right, HAHAHA.
CJ Goodearl: We use vCreative PPO. Pretty happy with it, except when sales initiates it incorrectly. Another pet peeve is when they add order numbers it turns into a revision. Overall we like it.
Earl Pilkington, Coast Radio, Australia: We still use paper production orders, although we have experimented with software to do the same thing in the past 12 months, few however match up to our expectations. Personally, I would love to go digital. Having everything from authority to broadcast forms and production orders, even scripts, all digitally available would be amazing – but – the problem is that not every sales rep has the same access to the internet, and Australia’s coverage on the fringe of cap cities is notoriously spotty at best. So, unfortunately, for now – we will be stuck with pen and paper.
Michael Shishido, KUMU / KDDB / KPOI / KQMQ, Honolulu, HI: We're currently using a simple feature in Outlook. Our production orders are emailed to me and then I drag the email into the Tasks part of Outlook. I then give it a due date and assign other pertinent info. The Tasks area allows me to see at a glance all the production by due date and who's responsible, something we can't do if only left in email. It's simple but it works. And you can set it up so others can see the production task list. They can also mark off the completed projects. The downside is, our efficiency is dependent on me remembering to drag the PO into the Task list. And you can't do that easily or at all when you're away from the desktop version of Outlook.
I've looked at PPO from vCreative and liked it. But we are heavy on our barter load right now and can't "afford it." Aside from that, I've looked into project management software. While the system looks like it can handle the process of radio station production, I don't know if it can handle the speed and volume. The same goes for Slack, though I haven't really delved into how Slack might be applied to the Sales-Traffic-Production work flow.
I'm always looking for an effective, efficient, cost-effective (read that "free") way of keeping our work flow moving. Very interested in reading other responses.
Herrn Chris Speda, Chris Speda - Kreatives für Funk & Medien, Esslingen, Germany: As a typical single writer & producer, I have no big organisation stuff around me. When a job comes in, I make a new file in my billing app called EuroFaktura. It's a typical all in one app: contact, order, invoice. My billing program gives me for every new job an ongoing production number. With this number in mind, I make a folder on my Mac with the number + client + job.
Every item I need for this job will get in this folder, f.e. mails from/to the client, briefings, docs, music, jingles.... everything getting a gapless communication. It's needed, because when the job is done, I make from all the stuff a single PDF file with the production number + clients name and save this forever.
Makes sense when the client calls and says, "Do you know what we did two years ago? Do you have any copies? What was the budget?" I can search the PDF and I know what was. Or when you are in a conflict or if you had an arrangement via email, you'll find it in the PDF (when you’ve saved :-)
When the job is rolling, I put it on a todo list in my "2Do" app. There a 3 categories: 1. Work (client says: do it), 2. Waiting (I wait for the next client's step / release), 3. Finished (billing).
So I can see, "what to do" this day and "to wait".
Sorry, for my bad English. I hope you catch the idea :-)
Dennis Daniel, Cameron Advertising, New York, NY: It¹s all paper for me, paper work orders. I need the physical thing to hold in my hand and file away when it¹s done. I hate how we rely of computers for everything!!! I want to save just a little of the 20th Century. Is that ok? Can I do that, please??? JEEZ! LOL!
Anyway, the orders come in and I file them in three ways.. .PENDING, IN PRODUCTION, COMPLETED. I do use Excel to help me with clients that have just disclaimer or date updates... or to remind me that a newer version needs to be done of an existing spot. By newer I mean adding the correct new co-op logos, phrases, etc. or in some cases, the price change. Long live PAPER!!!!
Edgar Gomez, Univision Radio, San Francisco, CA: All Univision Radio Stations nationwide are on the cloud base system vCreative. For the past 3 years everything goes through the vCreative system including digital streaming stations. For the most part everything runs petty smooth other than the regular inappropriate ways of account coordinators inputing information. Other than that I give it 9 out of 10. They also want us to use it for voice requests, but I find the use of email a lot faster and better for this.
Phil Shirakawa, CHUO 89.1FM, Ottawa, ON: At our station, we still do things the old-school way. Ads are sold by our Station Manager or me, and copy is typed into a form that I print off for reference, when I'm in the booth. We're a pretty small organization, so for us, it works. We certainly haven't entertained the idea of an ordering system, but given our not-for-profit status, making money isn't our highest concern. (Plus it helps to have a one-man creative department!)