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Making Things Better, One Step At a Time

So far, we've looked at the Literary Department and Production Management. We’ll consider the information needs of other departments in performing arts organizations, but before we do, let’s take some time to talk about making a new start.

The Way It Is Now

Here’s the situation at most organizations I surveyed. Files are scattered from here to eternity. The shared file drive resembles the Wild West. Content is hidden from view in departmental silo-folders. There is no intranet, so it’s difficult to know what other staff members have written or created. The primary method of communication between departments is email, consequently your email inbox is overflowing and has to be archived on a regular basis, which is a huge time waster. Yuck.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.

What to do? It takes some work, but you can move your company forward with steps that are well defined. You are not the first to make this journey.

Guess what?

There is no technology in the first part of the process.

Take Some Time To Think About It.

  • What is your mission statement? Why does your particular organization exist and in its most basic sense, what do you do?

  • What is your vision? What impact do you want to have on society? What are your values and principles? What do you believe in?

  • What is the state of your company? Are you just starting out or have you been around for a while?

  • How many performance spaces are you dealing with? Are you a rep company or a one-production-at-a-time kind of company?

  • Do you mainly put on staged plays? Musical performances? Dance pieces?

  • What type of marketing is important to you? What kind of IT department do you have? Is there an Archives department you wish to support or start?

  • How many employees do you have?

  • How often do you publish patron communications, web pages, e-mail blasts, marketing content, production photos? What kind of graphics do you use for your content?

  • Do you produce new plays that typically go through many versions or standard classics that are more stable?

Now, prioritize.

Write the answers down. Nobody has unlimited time and money. What is most important to your artistic staff, your board, your audiences? Decide what you want to tackle now and what can wait.

The next step is to make a plan. We’ll look at that in a coming post.

Jayne Dutra is an enterprise information architect and a stage designer. Her IT consulting practice supports performing arts companies to better organize their materials so that they can focus precious resources on the creative process instead of drowning in information overload.

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