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Vlaamse Media Maatschappij (VMMa) chose ScheduALL to streamline production operations

Vlaamse Media Maatschappij (VMMa) name was changed to Medialaan in February 2014


Vlaamse Media Maatschappij (VMMa) is a leading Belgian television broadcaster focused on providing services to the Flanders region. The Vilvoorde-based company broadcasts channels including VTM, 2BE (Channel 2), and Jim TV, and also operates radio stations JOEFM and Q-Music. VMMa integrated the ScheduALL enterprise resource management (ERM) system into its television production operations to achieve greater end-to-end visibility and control over its resources, and now uses ScheduALL to manage critical processes throughout its news and production workflows.

Situation Analysis

Through a 2006 audit process, VMMa determined that implementation of an enterprise class ERM system would enable a significant reduction in its television production costs, and in turn, help increase the company’s overall profitability. At the time, the broadcaster was relying on a series of discrete applications to manage processes such as shift planning and resource allocation. The challenge with the existing solution was its closed database architecture which prevented VMMa from seeing a unified and complete view of available resources, without manually extracting and compiling data from several different programs.

Managers were required to export the necessary data from each program database one at a time, making consolidated cost accounting a complex and time-consuming process. Additionally, with no single tool for compiling expenditures, managers lacked the means to monitor and control project costs in real time.

After investigating a variety of solutions, VMMa chose ScheduALL to streamline production operations, gain visibility into resource availability, identify cost and profit centers of the business, and take a proactive approach in leveraging resources toward greater productivity and profitability.

“By bringing valuable real-time cost information into our resource management, ScheduALL allows us to make better informed business decisions that directly impact our profitability.”

An Integrated Solution

VMMa quickly discovered ScheduALL to be the only off-the-shelf solution to provide real-time cost accounting within a proven and widely implemented framework. ScheduALL had become the clear choice and is recognized as the de-facto standard within the media and broadcast marketplace.

ScheduALL provides greater end-to-end visibility and control over its resources, and VMMa uses the software to centralize and simplify studio and shift planning, holiday planning, external cost processing, completion and reconciliation of jobs, and internal billing.

“ScheduALL was the only firm to give us a firm foundation on which to build our resource planning and cost accounting processes, which meant we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel as we adapted the system to our operations,” said Gerrit Libbrecht, project manager at VMMa. “We found that 80 percent of ScheduALL’s functionality was already suited to our organization, and the software’s flexibility enabled us to further meet our needs and tailor its implementation to our timeline.”

ScheduALL also interfaces with VMMa’s existing budget and cost system to exchange the resource budget lines and quote information that drive project creation and support real-time cost accounting. In addition to replacing the broadcaster’s earlier project booking system, ScheduALL interfaces with VMMa’s holiday planning and payroll administration systems to ensure the accuracy and currency of personnel and shift data. Finally, ScheduALL provides the cost data that support the broadcaster’s internal billing system and “e-invoicing” process.

Operations: Efficient Scheduling and Planning

ScheduALL brings VMMa’s production and news operations onto a single system, making it easy for the two departments to share resource and scheduling information as needed. Within the production realm, ScheduALL interoperates with an external quote creation system, importing technical details needed to build work orders and schedule staff (internal and external) and facilities over the length of the project. Replacing VMMa’s previous studio planning solution, which was nearing its end of life, ScheduALL enabled the company to group resources for simpler scheduling and to link project information with facilities and both internal and external personnel.

VMMa’s news department also uses ScheduALL to maximize organizational efficiency through improved studio and shift planning. Installed in the broadcaster’s news desk and studio area, a large LCD monitor displays ScheduALL data, providing a comprehensive view of who is doing what, and where. At a glance, any member of the team can easily see the status of a work order, when a reporting team is expected to return, and which edit room the team or staff member will use to finish the news package.

Changes to the schedule are updated in real time on the LCD monitor and are simultaneously delivered to staff via e-mail and/or calendar synchronization. The automation of this process has dramatically decreased redundant data entry, minimized costly scheduling conflicts, and increased productivity. Staff can also access the ScheduALL system remotely via its Personnel Portal to find out how their time and projects have been planned, ensuring they are always up to date.

The news department combines the operational planning data, the same information displayed on the monitor, with external cost data to enable comparison and reconciliation of incoming invoices, which are compared with the project cost data extracted from ScheduALL. If there is a significant difference in these numbers, the department has the information required to examine the discrepancy in more depth.

In using ScheduALL to improve shift planning, VMMa is now able to automate the export of planning data into its payroll system without the intervention of the company’s IT staff. Once a very difficult process, the management of personnel, worked days and hours, type of work and rates, and related payment across VMMa’s planning and human resources departments now functions smoothly through a straightforward import utility.

Finance: Focused Cost Accounting

While a project is under way, ScheduALL allows VMMa to compare actual costs to those estimated at the start of the project, providing essential ROI data in real time. Costs are broken down into categories, ranging from audio and video to complementary services such as catering. With this detailed cost data, the broadcaster can easily identify areas in which planning and resource use can be improved — enabling better business decisions and creating more accurate project budgets going forward. Personnel costs also can be evaluated and adjusted as needed.

“We send ScheduALL shift planning data to our human resources department regularly so that factors such as overtime and special rates can be included in our long-term reporting and business analysis,” added Libbrecht. “While we can’t make calculations and say that we need one less full-time staff person, we definitely use the information provided by ScheduALL to do more with the team we do have.”

The links connecting ScheduALL with VMMa’s human resources tools enable the broadcaster to apply both the company’s business rules and Belgium’s complex labor rules to payroll. Rather than collect data from each system, schedulers rely on the simple exchange of up-to-date information to calculate and monitor performance, work quotas, and costs.

Once a job has been completed, it is placed in a reconciled status that enables the billing process to take place when required. To simplify internal project billing, ScheduALL interfaces with VMMa’s bill generation system to create e-invoices.

Administration: Consolidated Cost Control and Reporting

In managing project work with ScheduALL, VMMa staff members have complete control over the production and news production line and can easily spot problem areas. Managers are now able to run reports based on a variety of factors to evaluate resource use and determine what changes are necessary. For example, when the company is working on a multiple-episode show, managers use ScheduALL to see how actual expenses compare to budgeted expenses and as a result, see if the remaining budget is sufficient to go on with the show.

ScheduALL’s shift planning tools incorporate both internal and external personnel, allowing managers to monitor the use of these resources and adjust them to achieve a cost-effective balance that matches operational and budgeted goals. The software’s customization and calculation of overtime rules provides data on where a project sits in terms of personnel costs. In addition, ScheduALL’s quote manager module leverages this cost data enabling decision-makers to better forecast future expenditures.

Realizing Improved ROI

With all of its news and production resources managed through a central application, VMMa has been able to realize more precise cost control and more consistent reporting data. The consolidation of scheduling also has simplified the translation of shift planning data into accounting and payroll, with information automatically routed into these systems. Accurate reporting of staff scheduling gives VMMa the insight required to leverage its existing staff more effectively and, in turn, complete more work more profitably. Over the course of 2009, VMMa will fully integrate planning for its radio and on-air promo departments into ScheduALL, realizing more unified scheduling processes and gaining a more comprehensive and accurate reflection of the company’s cost and profit centers.

“By bringing valuable real-time cost information into our resource management, ScheduALL allows us to make better informed business decisions that directly impact our profitability,” said Libbrecht. “VMMA has realized significant benefits in working with ScheduALL to streamline our operations and maximize our efficiency.”

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