Death to the paper trail

You’ve probably heard this one before. Tech companies tend to claim — whether rightly or wrongly is sometimes the subject of debate — that the product or service they are offering spells the end to a paper-based system. Calendars, notepads and magazines have all been proclaimed dead a few times over by now.

Of course, to digitise and 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 us as well. Here’s one to ponder: how to decide which of those systems or processes would actually benefit from digitisation or even automation?

I remember watching an episode of Dragons’ Den when a presenter 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.

“Moving the start of an event forward by fifteen minutes affects not only the  technical staff, but also the front of house, the caterer as well as many other supporting departments.”

An issue you might’ve encountered yourself revolves around the never-quite-so-final status of production schedules. Events are fickle things, prone to frequent last-minute changes. 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.

Not a problem, though — you are a fixer, aren’t you? These sort of schedule mix-ups, however, usually entail some consequences. Other staff members will have to call in earlier to set up shop, the cleaning team will have to the kitchen squeaky clean earlier than planned and the concierge will have to let everyone in a few hours before the originally convened time.

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 forwards, 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.

For us venue management professionals, it’s become clear that we need to provide solutions linking the planning and delivery teams of events seamlessly. Of course, Yesplan enables planners and staff to see where and when they are needed. Everyone involved 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).

Yet, we are still asked “Can we print it?”.
“Yes!”,  comes back the answer. But do you NEED to?

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

Needless to say this is music to our ears, as it shows that we are delivering the tools people need. Not that we have any ambitions to carry each and every form of paper to the grave, but there are smarter and quicker ways of doing those jobs we do every day, all the while keeping everyone in the loop without having to cut down patches of rainforest. Perhaps print is not dead, it’s just time it considered retirement!