There are over 600 arts and entertainment events that are formally booked and contracted with national agencies and promoters each year through Warwick Arts Centre. There were a number of different processes operating and a couple of significant issues highlighted the urgency of the need to ensure that a clear, streamlined process was in place.
There were many people, internally and externally, involved in the booking process which resulted in a lot of deviation from the ‘central’ process and contributed to a lack of consistency. There was also a need to reduce the amount of time it took to complete the booking form and to bring undocumented informal booking arrangements into a formal process.
The time and effort taken to get a fully signed contract in place for each event was consuming considerable resource internally and consequently, in a number of cases, had resulted in the dissatisfaction of our customers (promoters, agents, companies, artists) and stakeholders when we were unable to respond with speed to a pressing issue. We were not meeting the expectations of our customers and this was creating a level of frustration internally.
A cross-functional team from Finance, Programming, Box Office, Marketing, Technical, Front of House and Central Finance (Legal) was assembled for a three–day Rapid Improvement Event. All current process-related issues were discussed, including the fact that bookings were recorded in at least 7 different systems, leading to errors and rework downstream in the process. A complete current state process was mapped and key areas for improvement recorded. The process demonstrated a significant number of hand-offs and causes of delays at many stages. The importance of ongoing collaboration with the central contracts and finance team was recognised as vital in ensuring that the higher risk contracts passing through this process were sped up and any undue delays were identified and removed.
What helped, was going through the whole process, which we are all invested in, to reach a new solution rather than just having a meeting about problems!
A future state process map, or flowchart, was produced in which one ‘single source of truth’, or one system to record bookings, was agreed by the team. In addition, the number of hand-offs was halved and is now the subject of ongoing continuous improvement actions. A comprehensive action plan for implementation was developed and progress was monitored on a weekly basis by the Rapid Improvement team and Warwick Arts Centre Senior Leadership Team.
The outcome: A simple booking process and increased satisfaction
Warwick Arts Centre reduced the number of systems used to record bookings from over 7 to just 2. As a result this has lead to a reduction in the error rate from 40% to almost 0% and has significantly improved satisfaction amongst staff and customers. Additionally, the simplified process has meant that 92% of contracts are signed before tickets go on sale, compared to 30% before the Rapid Improvement Event.
The whole team were involved in the process review and as a result are now more aware of the part they play. This has lead to greater ownership of the process, as everyone understands how mistakes they make could have consequences further down the line. A culture of continous improvement has developed with the whole team striving to make the process better and more efficient.