About our organisation and venue
Birmingham Hippodrome is an independent, notforprofit, registered charity. The unsubsidised Hurst Street based venue averages over 500,000 visits annually making it the most popular single auditorium in the UK. With no public revenue funding, it is home to Birmingham Royal Ballet and DanceXchange, presents all of Welsh National Opera's repertoire, welcomes the best in international dance, West End and Broadway musicals and is home to the world's biggest Pantomime.
With partners including Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and private funders, the Hippodrome has enjoyed co-producing and producing events including Six Summer Saturdays, International Dance Festival Birmingham, Summer in Southside and the 4 Squares Weekender, a weekend of outdoor arts performances in celebration of the opening of the Library of Birmingham on behalf of Birmingham Arts Partnership.
Our business challenge
We have been on ArtifaxEventClassic for many years and our primary users of the system have changed over time. Because of this, training became diluted, procedures put in place were changed and this led to a system that over time no longer suited our needs. Historical data was not reliable or accurate, so making informed decisions were near impossible. Buy in from across the organisation was low and processes could not be followed as there was so much manual work involved that requirements could never be met as tweaks were made on an ongoing basis.
What we did
We agreed with Artifax that we would start afresh with a clean database. We did not want to copy over any unnecessary data as its inaccuracy meant it would have been irrelevant and a waste of time. In order to get the configuration right first time, we decided it would be better to use Artifax consultancy services to help us with this new product and to share ideas with. We assembled a cross-functional team that would consist of our primary users (Conference and Events, Technical, Administration, Finance) to participate in three days of workshops with Artifax.
In these, we discussed all aspects of setup where we could streamline and be efficient. For example, in our old setup, we have a field that defines an events activity type. We had over 140 different activity types that we were able to condense down to 11 options, which covered all scenarios. It was also possible to reduce the number of event status' (Confirmed bookings, pencilled bookings, etc) from 21 options to 7, still covering what was necessary.
Parallel to this, we established standardised processes on how we would interact with our customers, both internally and externally. Processes such as how we take enquires from customers can be catered for using Custom Form functionality, giving us the flexibility to capture required information of the customers' requirements without keeping them on the phone for an excessive period of time. We also improved how departments communicate with each other; using Tasks, we can send messages to entire teams asking them for quotations on products or approval on invoices. These processes are now being fully documented so we have a reference point in the future, eliminating holes that appeared in previous knowledge sharing between employees.
From the very beginning, we asked our stakeholders what information they needed to get out of the system in order to ensure all required input fields were present. We have then been working closely with the Artifax Development team to build custom reports to extract the data, and have been excellent in making tweaks to these when we have refined our processes further. Because we can now rely on accurate data, we have started to include statistical information in board reports that are produced, as well as making more informed, proactive decisions.
Scott Whitehouse, Database Manager