Arts festival profit from database design

Outsourced development replaces seven applications

Organisers of the month-long arts and cultural fair the Sydney Festival have outsourced the production, planning and organizing platform for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) package to replace some seven disparate software applications previously in use.

Work began on the new software, titled Planning and Organization System for Events (POSE) some twelve months ago, specifically for an integrated enterprise-wide solution to be deployed on three-year-old hardware.

The system was developed on the InterSystems Cache post relational database implemented by Just For You Software. Both the Sydney Festival and Just for You have agreed to share revenue from additional sales of the custom built system.

They currently have one customer.

Ian Marks, Sydney Festival manager of accounts and IT services, said the development brief was that the system be easily maintained by a 'non-technical' person.

Marks said the biggest outcome of the software so far is improved communications and strong governance and corporate control, adding there is increasing pressure on performing arts companies to manage and assess risk, particularly from government funding agencies.

"The software has given us the ability to plan a festival from conceptual stage through to delivery, and previously, we could only plan for delivery," Marks said.

"It is very much an enter once, use many times system. Staff can see the overall flow of the festival in a graphical way now, so they can identify things like potential clashes early on. Our production staff, for example, can get a feel for the festival much earlier than before and start work earlier.

"It means we have much better quality control over things earlier in the planning process. We can identify pitfalls in the early stages and avoid significant budget blow-outs at the other end."

Tom Grimshaw, director of Just For You Software, said the Sydney Festival has met its software requirements and also built an application other organizations can benefit from.

"Every client comes to me with a tall wishlist but a short budget, and my biggest challenge is to deliver everything they want without sending either of us broke," Grimshaw said.

"This is a real partnership, and last month we fired a cheque off to Ian. We think it will be the first of many."

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