THE CLIENT’S PERSPECTIVE

A media organization was undergoing a massive technological upgrade of their broadcast production operations from older analog technology to new, state-of-the art digital technology. Their goals were to improve the efficiency of the operations, to enhance the quality of their content, and to get ready for the new digital world.

The switch was a big deal—and a challenge much bigger than technology alone. All of the organization’s production systems, processes, organization structure—in short, its fundamental ways of working—would have to change to adapt to the new technology. As part of the implementation, the organization had gone through a major investment of hardware, software and training. However, the implementation was behind schedule and employees were unhappy about the direction.

The problem was that the organization had implemented new technology to automate many of its production processes, but had not adjusted the organizational structure and business processes to match. The old organizational structure was now causing swings in workload—with employees either in crunch mode or left with little to do. After millions of dollars spent, the new technology system was in place, but was causing the organization’s cost curve to go up and morale to go down. A new approach was needed—right away.

Eagle Hill was asked to help get the transformation program back on track.

A NEW VIEW

We knew the organization needed a fresh start. One of the first things we did was rebrand the program to separate it from the older implementation program that had such negative associations for employees.

For the first six weeks, we dug in deep, analyzing every aspect of the problem to put a smart, workable plan together. As part of the initial assessment, we completed a stakeholder analysis and identified the concerns and expectations of the stakeholder community. We met several times a week with these major stakeholders to develop a detailed solution design, including organizational structure, governance changes, business processes to update, and how best to communicate about the transition. The executive team was up to the challenge, embracing change and stepping up to lead the charge.

One problem we uncovered during our analysis concerned the metadata associated with individual television programs. The media organization had assumed that every piece of metadata they received from producers was correct, when in fact, it regularly had errors, and employees would be left scrambling to fix the problem as the airdate approached. Moreover, producers were frequently late in delivering content—sometimes just hours before airtime, putting employees into overtime.

Eagle Hill recommended some strict new guidelines for dealing with these issues. We added systems logic to ensure metadata matched show content and introduced a new policy to hold producers accountable for errors. We also worked to change entrenched producer behavior, instituting a fee schedule with relatively severe fines for late files and a process for billing producers for extra editing. These changes soon effected the desired change in producer behavior and moved a tremendous employee burden back where it belonged.

We also found that the new system had been implemented much later than expected, meaning nearly a year had gone by since employees were trained on it. It was an overlooked problem, and Eagle Hill helped launch a major retraining effort to get the people back in tune with the system.

Finally, we designed a new optimal organization structure, workforce plan, and change-management plan to maximize employee buy-in; and planned and managed all aspects of the transition including rollout.

UNCONVENTIONAL CONSULTINGAND BREAKTHROUGH RESULTS

In less than three months, Eagle Hill had a solution in place, including 16 key recommendations, 16 task forces to implement them, and a set of new performance metrics to give better insight into the state of production operations in real time.

As a result of our work, the organization saw improvements in operational metrics almost immediately. For example, there was a nearly 100% increase in programs ready to go in the desired timeframe (10 days before airing), giving them more leeway to deal with last-minute programming changes and also helped them run in a more stable and cost-efficient way. Within one day of airtime, they saw a five-fold improvement in shows ready to air. Overall, the result was tighter processes aligned to the organization, faster producer deliveries due to our new producer policies, and significantly lower metadata errors.