What is the First Stage in Making a Change?

Urgent

Urgency, and the company culture needs to eradicate complacency.  Change requires total commitment and the entire company needs to know, understand, and embrace the change.  Your company cannot go to the next stage unless you have urgency.  “There is a 70% chance that any change will fail” (Kotter, J. P. Kindle edition).  When I tell people outside of the entertainment industry about the business they are shocked that people behave the way they do.  The sex scandals are only a small dysfunction of what has held back Hollywood from developing and evolving business practices.  It is to bad the recent news has become a witch hunt, and most of the offenders will continue as they always have.  What about the bully’s?  The racism?  Some of these people have the trifecta and the audiences have no idea who they are supporting.  The current system has been broken and inefficient for decades, but it is entertainment and who really cares, right?  

Change

Change

How do you fix it?  That is beyond the scope of this post.  The reason I talk about this now is because it is easy for people to understand what I mean by “urgency” to change the culture.  How long will it last?  “People often complain about being forced to produce short-term wins, but under the right circumstances that kind of pressure can be a useful element in a change process.  When it becomes clear that quality programs or cultural change efforts will take a long time, urgency levels usually drop” (Kotter, J. P. Kindle edition).  If the leadership in the industry have covered up all these deep, ugly secrets how can they manage updating their business processes from paper to digital?  At byagi we are deeply concerned because in order to make change happen one needs singularity in the commitment and not let anything stand in the way.  Our calling is to help take Hollywood out of the dark ages in “their” business practices.  How do we do that?  We start by creating a learning environment in our company, and lead by example.

I was looking for a digital solution in Hollywood for managing crew’s spending on feature films and television projects and “they” don’t make one, so I built one.  “Ferry Porsche said I was looking for the sports car of my dreams and I couldn’t find it, so I built one” (Amazon.com: Decades Of Disruption: Robert Dalrymple, 2017).  At byagi we have chosen to be leaders and take a road less traveled.  Going it alone is not for the meek.  But when you use qualitative and quantitative data the risks are mitigated.  Failing is not negative but a fact of life and part of the process of building innovative, curve jumping products and services.  It is also part of making a change, and creating urgency in your organization.

Porsche

Porsche

I have never been one to follow which has hurt my career because followers are rewarded by those in control.  Try questioning a bully producer.  I am not good at vertical obedience when I know my information is sound.  I found this article the other day that said, “The customer is always right.  It’s a noble sentiment that has done much to improve customer service, especially in retail.  But with technology, business users may not always understand what they are asking for.  Even worse, they may try to dictate the technical details of the solution”  Harpham, B. (2017, November 21).  One of my first demo’s a couple years ago for a V.P. of Finance said when we were done that he could not use the system because it looked to simple.  Would you say that about the Porsche?  Was it to small and light to run against the big muscle cars?  The history of Porsche is about firing a shot across the bow and showing people the ultimate in possibilities.  Byagi is doing the same thing with managerial and financial production management in the entertainment industry. 

Rethink Reimagine Reinvent Disrupt

Rethink Reimagine Reinvent Disrupt

Our interface is clean and simple.  We give the user only what they need to be compliant.  “What does Sarbanes-Oxley compliance require?”  We either meet or exceed requirements.  “All applicable companies must establish a financial accounting framework that can generate financial reports that are readily verifiable with traceable source data.  This source data must remain intact and cannot undergo undocumented revisions.  In addition, any revisions to financial or accounting software must be fully documented as to what was changed, why, by whom and when” (http://sarbanes-oxley-101.com/sarbanes-oxley-faq.htm).  Our system goes to the source of financial data, captures it and tracks everything.

Here is one of byagi’s shot across the bow.  We have created a natural way to do a journal entry that is compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and the accountant may or may not be involved in the data entry portion.  Audit and approve are the new standards for accounting in Hollywood.  We have approvals and transparency never before seen in our industry.   

the ultimate in flexibility

Approval workflow, powerful and flexible

Does anyone out there know how easy finances are when you give people the tools they need to get the job done right the first time?  Simplicity is the beauty of what we do.  Work is not ugly, work is not a four letter word that should be avoided.  If people knew some of the working conditions in the entertainment world they would be just as shocked as the sex scandal.  If people have been complacent about the current scandal what does that say about their business intelligence?

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence

Work should not be a place where people engage in “Happy Talk” either, which something John Kotter writes about in his book, Leading Change.  “If complacency were low in most organizations today, this problem would have limited importance.  But just the opposite is true.  Too much past success, a lack of visible crises, low performance standards, insufficient feedback from external constituencies, and more all add up” (Kotter, J. P. Kindle edition).  Sounds like the entertainment industry to me.  Stocks and flows are terms used in Systems Management.  There is always a reason why.  Finance on productions is something I have heard complained about for the last two decades.  The standards in a creative industry have been low, but expectations for results high.  

Do any of you in the C-Suite, VP’s, or Directors know how bloated productions are?  What is more important labor or production value?  Do you like inefficient and overstaffed crews?  Education and reading will help any of you who question what I am saying.  Start with my references in these blogs and question what is happening on your production.  What financial tools do you provide for your (not just accounting) crew?  I have yet to see a platform like ALineProducer that shares and collaborates in one place creating a new system of record.

Line Item Edit

Line Item Edit

 The hours and tasks that are eliminated, shifted, results shared, stack up fast when using ALineProducer.  I know from personal experience having used, ALineProducer, as an Accountant on 6 projects.  The pace at which the information is distributed increases exponentially.  The cover of, Journal of Accountancy, November 2017, reads “We have to be bold, incoming Chair Eric Hanse, CPA, CGMA, says that the pace of change demands that the profession take proactive steps to maintain relevance”.  When a production uses our application the Accountant’s main responsibility changes to auditor of information, not data entry.  Auditing the quality and accuracy of the information being entered in the system also requires a higher level of education.  Data entry accountants will need to make an adjustment in their skill-set to stay relevant.  Even better it would be awesome to actually get CPA’s in the finance and production accounting world to help the confused minds of production get their business process current and relevant.

We have taken finance to a new level that in my opinion no one else in the industry can match right now.  No one is even close.  “Making a significant change to business intelligence in an organization has consequences for careers.  The art of change management and leadership cannot be ignored in guiding people through the transition” Harpham, B. (2017, November 21).  Those who have the urgency to master their information systems in a digital environment will be far better off than those who are complacent.  Be bold, make big data changes, and join a new conversation about the production business in entertainment.

Bold Red

Disclaimer – Some of these references may not be quoted but they have inspired thoughts for this post.  None of these references endorse the products or services from byagi.

REFERENCES

Amazon.com: Decades Of Disruption: Robert Dalrymple [Video file]. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Decades-Disruption-Robert-Dalrymple/dp/B076DFQXY8/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1513639288&sr=1-1&keywords=porsche+documentary

Harpham, B. (2017, November 21). 9 ways you’re failing at business intelligence. Retrieved from https://www.cio.com/article/3237786/business-intelligence/9-ways-youre-failing-at-business-intelligence.html

Hill, L. A., & Davis, G. (2017, November/December). The board’s new innovation imperative, Directors need to rethink their roles and their attitude to risk. Harvard Business Review, 95(6), 103-109.

Kawasaki, G., books and speeches

Knight, P. (2016). Shoe dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike. Scribner Book Company.

Kotter, J. P. Change Leadership: The Kotter Collection (5 Books) (Kindle Locations 2341-2343). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Pfleeger, S. L., & Atlee, J. M. (2012). Software engineering: Theory and practice. Johanneshov: TPB.

Prokesch, S. (2017, March/April). The Edison of Medicine lessons from one of the world’s most productive and profitable research facilities. Harvard Business Review, 95(2), 134-143.

Sarbanes-Oxley FAQs – What Your Business Must Do for Compliance. (2017, December 18).  Retrieved from http://sarbanes-oxley-101.com/sarbanes-oxley-faq.htm

Tysiac, K. (2017). We have to be bold. Journal of Accountancy, 224(5), 18-22. Retrieved from journalofaccountancy.com

What Does Byagi Mean?

Bring Your “A” Game, Inc. aka byagi

Simply put, byagi is a state of mind that describes a level of effort.

I get the question all the time.  What does byagi mean or stand for?  Here I give a more in depth answer of what it means to me and our company.

Do you byagi every day?  Because I believe that when you live with the highest expectations for yourself every moment of your life; then winning, or turning the page when you lose without regret is possible.  When your “C” game shows up, which it will, having a byagi state of mind will help carry you through.  When you bring it, then the outcome is always right.  Some days you win, some days you lose.  The intent, the effort, is always there and that is what is important.

byagi

byagi

"win or lose"

“win or lose”

Have you ever heard of the Hollywood A List?  Have you ever heard sports broadcasters talk about someone bringing their “A” game?  It is unforgettable, it is something you can physically see in a performance of any kind.  Those times when people are able to tap into the best of what they have and operate in a zone of perfection.  “A” game is to go above and beyond the norm.  Byagi, the company, has been developed in the same way.  Who else has made user-friendly, design centric financial software for the business of entertainment?  Who else has made financial software for the industry that everyone on the production shares and collaborates with?  It is time to take the production business of Hollywood to the next level.

Byagi has been built to serve an industry and evolve a business process.  Growing up with my twin brother we spent hours on the basketball court, running, playing tennis, etc.  We constantly pushed each other to get better.  It seemed only natural to name the company Byagi when it was suggested.  I like to think that ideas move through us but only when we allow those ideas and information to flow.  The following are some thoughts and guidelines of the ways we like to bring our “A” game to work everyday.

Leadership is byagi

Leadership is byagi

  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, make your surroundings better.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, lift those around you up that need help.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, engage people with quantitative information.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, engage people with qualitative information.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, capture and engage 99% of the industry.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, embrace calculated failures to learn and grow.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, balance education with practical experience.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, be the best you can be (not better than anyone else) win or lose.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, create a learning environment where calculated risks are taken and failure is seen as part of being great.
  • What does bring your “A” game mean?  byagi means, your intent, no matter how bad it seems, is to make the best of every situation, no matter how useless it may seem.  You never know when the momentum is going to turn.

    collaboration with byagi

    collaboration with byagi

Contact us using the form below if you want to take your crew to the next level.  You can also call us, message us on Facebook, reach out to us on LinkedIn.  We are the ones leading the way in the entertainment industry.  We have raised the bar and heard the uncomfortable cries of change.  Rest assured we have the tools, and skills needed to help your production team make the transition from paper to digital.  Let us show you how to get into a byagi state of mind for your next project.

Challenges and Solutions for Going Digital with ALineProducer

   What are some common change obstacles?  Trust and confidence in adopting a new system is scary.  The industry has been intolerant of mistakes (but they happen all the time) and slow to change.  The case study on Netflix is a perfect example of a company who is innovating with exponential growth while the old studio system gets blitzed.  The majority in Hollywood need to start embracing risk and learn how to make calculated mistakes.  It is hard to believe in an industry such as entertainment that the culture has such an aversion to change.  “It takes the determination to fight the natural human aversion to risk and the fortitude to engage in creative abrasion” (Hill & Davis, 2017, p. 109).  

Payment fly out to add details about the purchase

Add payment details

     Another obstacle is a lack of urgency in how to solve the production pains that paper technology creates.  Two of the most common questions I get are, How do we implement this new system?  How do we get the crews to buy in?  While others still doubt the relevance of a digital system.  I find many people need to see to believe which is why in these posts I weave change questions with our solutions.  No one else in the entertainment industry has this type of tool which helps 99% of the crew track payments on a production.  ALineProducer, also helps the 1% of production accountants in the industry do their jobs better.  ALineProducer can give a weak accounting department a backbone.  It gives a novice crew the ability to track their finances like a pro, and for those big studio jobs it will devour information and documents giving crews more time for their craft.

     Reading one of my favorite publications, Harvard Business Review,  I came across this article that said, “Focus on High-Impact Problems, One of Langer’s mantras when choosing projects is: Consider the potential impact on society, not the money.  The idea is that if you create something that makes a major difference, the customers and the money will come” (Prokesch, 2017, p. 136).  The article goes on to talk about multidisciplinary teams, embracing turnover, leading without micromanaging.  Does your company poses the skills to lead and ask the right questions to make a bold move?

     What is one of the pains of the current paper workflow in Hollywood?  Financial transactions are required to have supporting documentation which must be approved by one or many people who may or may not be in the same office, in the same city, or in the same country.  ALineProducer, was built to connect people on a production so they can share and collaborate the financial information and documentation of a project in real time. 

3 ways to add a document

Add a document

     Keeping track of the documentation, making sure it is legible, turning it into accounting, getting it approved, have and still are a major pain when using paper technology.  Emails, Production Assistants, cars, fuel, and FedEx, are only some of the costs associated with using paper technology.  Not to mention the time it takes to circulate paper.  When crews are shopping around town, scouting locations around the world, ALineProducer is there helping them become financial super heroes.  Who thought something so complicated could be reduced to something so easy?  We have eliminated the stove pipe communications of financial information on a production. 

     Two minutes is all it takes to record and document a transaction.  This claim has been timed using a mobile device to log in cold to the site, select the project, select the line item to add a payment, add supporting documentation, any notes if necessary, and add to the system.  When you do more than one entry at a time the rate of new entries decreases and becomes an average of about 45 seconds per entry.  The hours that are saved for the Crew, Accounting, and Producers is enormous.  For example the picture below is from the payments section of our application.  A crew member logs in and records their transaction(s) which is then shared and collaborated with Producers, Accountants, and other Stakeholders on the production. 

     Does your company care about it’s information?  Does your company and employees care if they can reduce work on accounting transactions by weeks per project?  “Standing still or waiting to see how things turn out are not considered serious options in today’s often tumultuous environment” (Hill & Davis, 2017, p. 104).  Contact us and we will show you a world so engaging that you will wonder why you didn’t make the move to digital sooner.

REFERENCES

  Hill, L. A., & Davis, G. (2017, November/December). The board’s new innovation imperative, Directors need to rethink their roles and their attitude to risk. Harvard Business Review95(6), 103-109.

  Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.  

  Prokesch, S. (2017, March/April). The Edison of Medicine lessons from one of the world’s most productive and profitable research facilities. Harvard Business Review, 95(2), 134-143.

Tysiac, K. (2017). We have to be bold. Journal of Accountancy224(5), 18-22. Retrieved from journalofaccountancy.com

Questions, Ideas, and Solutions for Going Digital in Hollywood

Going Digital is a concept taking hold in Hollywood.  How could the front end be so amazing and the back end so flimsy?  It reminds me of the temporary construction built for sets.  There are a bunch of maxims we could say about weaknesses like “you are only as strong as your weakest link”, or we could use a metaphor for powerful forces like “you have to match power with power, you can’t catch a train riding a bike..” that was a loose quote from “Riding Giants” a documentary about big wave surfing and how tow-in surfing was born.  So if we as humans have all these great lessons and words of wisdom around us why do we fail to act as a group?  Why would an industry choose to look the other way for so long about their finances, security, and digital technology on the back end?  “As long as accounting information system compliance is only seen as a duty, it is difficult to gain more value from these practices” (Mancini, D.et al. 2013).  When Producers and Studios understand that finance is more than a duty, we will get the desired change.  The revolution or should I say the evolution is coming, producers and production companies are actively looking for digital solutions.  

byagi time

byagi time

Why has it taken the entertainment industry so long to adopt digital technology?  Unless you have an idea of what the picture should be then you cannot ask the right questions.  I have been asked many times why I use spreadsheets to process millions of dollars of payroll.  To me it has always been an obvious choice which is why I am here writing about going digital today.  When people come to the entertainment business to be Producers, Actors, Directors it is hard to find someone with the desire to excel at something so far from the glamorous accolades.  When people are not trained in digital technology it makes it difficult to pioneer solutions.  When I first started Byagi I was told a few times by senior management that, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.  I saw other solutions and my definition of broke was and still is different.  My vision of what the back office business process should be is based in digital technology and comes with a longer list of expectations.  Building ALineProducer, our intention is to make our customers better, lift up our competition and make the production experience in the entertainment industry better.   

“What are the implications for accounting information systems? Are they suitable to adapt to the new flexibility request, or are they tied by their own architecture? The answer to the above queries could drive the design of new accounting information system conceptual models thus providing one of the most interesting research fields” (Beath, C. et.al. 2012).  I have believed in the above quote for a long time which is why Byagi was founded 10 years ago and why we created our web application, ALineProducer.

“One of the great things about money is it buys a lot of things….one of those luxuries is to disregard….”  That is a quote from “MoneyBall”, a movie about baseball and how long it took for change to occur.  For some it still hasn’t changed.  We can look everywhere and see industries that have changed while others resist.  The time has come for Hollywood to optimize back office information systems.  

Going Digital…..Information Systems, specifically accounting, “Indeed, they have always been evolving during time and there is still a long way to go, for the best alignment between accounting information systems and the business” (Mancini, D.et al. 2013).  It takes desire, determination, inner-drive, and confidence to develop a new business process for an entire industry.  While I was earning my degree in computer information systems I heard a talk by Guy Kawasaki where he discussed the concept of curve jumping when you enter a market.  At Byagi we have curve jumped with, ALineProducer.  We have opened up a way for all stakeholders on a production to use a common platform where they can communicate their financial needs 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  

24 Hours 7 Days a Week Always Open

24 Hours 7 Days a Week Always Open

Information is a driver and those companies that recognize the value of information and how it affects a knowledge based industry will have a comparative advantage to those companies who don’t.  Does your company have an Optimized Information System (OIS)?  In today’s world when you manually build a house from the ground up a professional shows up with pneumatic nail guns in a couple of sizes for framing and finishing.  A pneumatic nail guns saves hours per job.  In Hollywood we now have the equivalent of a pneumatic nail gun in the back office with, ALineProducer.  Producers can now give their crews a financial solution with confidence.  ALineProducer is the first digital step a company can take on their way to transforming their production business.  Using ALineProducer will help elevate the production process from paper to digital.  That being said before you come to us get to know your needs.  

The entertainment industry has very sophisticated technology minds that I believe are going to embrace this new way of taking care of business.  If you are reading this take the time to discover the best way for your company to go digital.  We can help but we may not be right for you.  What is the company strategy?  What is the culture at the company for implementing new business processes?  Who are the stakeholders who will need to guide, train, and grow the digital technology?  Ask yourself the questions.  There are many considerations when deciding on products and services that will help you achieve your strategic goals.  We will be here when you decide the time is right for us to help you become masters of your information.

In the next blog post we will continue the conversation of going digital.  There will be more questions, ideas and solutions for going digital as well as research about the time frame a company can expect once the decision has been made to go digital.  Thanks for reading and here is to everyone going digital and getting better at capturing the value of information in a digital environment.

 

REFERENCE

     Beath, C., Becerra-Fernandez, I., Ross, J., Short, J.: Finding value in the information explosion. Sloan Manage. Rev. 53(4), (2012)

     Mancini, D., Vaassen, Eddy H. J, Dameri, Renata Paola, & SpringerLink provider. (2013). Accounting Information Systems for Decision Making (Lecture Notes in Information Systems and Organisation, 3).

A Hollywood Love Story….Going Digital

After 20 years of production accounting experience on projects that have ranged from an Independent feature with a budget of 150K to Studio Blockbusters with budgets over 200 million one thing has been consistent.  I kept asking myself a litany of questions about digital technology and the best solutions for capturing financial information on productions.  With the help of many people along the way, Byagi, has released it’s flagship ALineProducer, a digital solution for the pains of doing production work in Hollywood.  Hi my name is Aaron Walrod, and I am the founder and C.E.O. of Byagi.  

Go Green

GD started long before I had a name for it.  First a definition of what GD means to me.  It is the process of learning how to create, collect, store, share, and manage information in a digital environment.  “We can think of a set of ordered tasks as a process: a series of steps involving activities, constraints, and resources that produce an intended output of some kind” (Pfleeger, Shari Lawrence, 2010, p. 45).  It can be a smooth transition, but like anything it takes time, dedication, and determination in order to be successful.  It also takes the right tools and a plan which is why Byagi has opened it doors for business offering, ALineProducer.

In 2012, approaching my mid-forties I went back to school while working full time because I needed more working knowledge of computer information systems.  I then met Glen Berry and we started collaborating on a financial/managerial system that would automate the paper technology currently being used.  My personal goal with this blog is to offer an authoritative, affiliative, coaching mentality to the business of helping our fellow brothers and sisters on their journey of “Going Digital” in Hollywood and sustain the new process with constant support and iterations of improvements to our web & mobile apps.

I was fortunate to have visionary bosses when I first broke into the industry.  “Going Digital” for me started in 1997.  I was on my third feature film when my boss told me he thought Microsoft Excel was going to replace Lotus 123 as the preferred spreadsheet.  I was given the task of learning Excel and transferring his Lotus spreadsheets.  At first it was a way to keep my job and then Excel became an obsession.  I call this a Hollywood Love Story because it takes a commitment as strong as love to create a solution in a new frontier for an industry.  It is an exciting time for Byagi to come forward and take a leadership role in setting the standard for how the industry processes its information. 

When I decided to take the principals of GD and turn it into a business I had no idea where to start, but eventually the pieces came together.  ALineProducer is a platform that brings together all the departments financial information in one place, it is intuitive, and sophisticated enough to provide real-time information to Producers and other stakeholders of a production, but easy for non-technology users to enter their data quickly and efficiently.  “….true work of innovation is not coming up with something big and new, but instead recombining things that already exist….” (Brynjolfsson, E., McAfee, A. 2014, p. 76).  

Connecting People

Connecting People

 I have taken that quote to heart but added a twist.  By combining things that already exist we have created something big and new.  We combined a group of familiar tasks in a new environment that curve jumps (thanks Guy Kawasaki for helping me understand) the industry standards.  Purchase orders, database management, budgeting, documentation storage/management, and reporting solution are not new yet we have combined all those tools into a powerful web application.  We have created control and transparency.  We have connected the stakeholders on a production to the accounts payable process in a way that uses current digital technology never before seen in the industry, but so simple it’s familiar.  We provide the financial control and security from the start by going to the source.  Our mission is to provide design friendly digital solutions for the arts and solve the pains of doing business on productions in Hollywood one at a time or five at a time.  

I hope everyone who reads this will share this site with their friends and come back to read and learn more about Going Digital and start using ALineProducer making it an industry standard for all productions.  There are some great subjects we will be covering with the goal to peak interest, educate, inform, and relay information that I find and have found to be helpful in my career.  So if you want to take your production to the next level keep reading my blogs and contact us for a demo.  The future of production finance is here and we have an offering that will meet and mostly likely exceed your expectations.

In closing the quotes I pulled for this blog do not have any affiliation with Byagi and are not an endorsement of our products.  I have quoted people throughout the site and want to make it clear that these are for reference purposes only.  I enjoy writing, but like a quality research paper I need the help of these educated people to give clarity, support, and meaning.  I do recommend reading the books I have quoted.  It will help to better understand the philosophy and values of what I write about.

 

REFERENCES

 Brynjolfsson, E., & McAfee, A. (2014). The second machine age: Work, progress, and prosperity in a time of brilliant technologies.

 Pfleeger, Shari Lawrence. (2010). Software engineering: Theory and practice. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

CONTACT US

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message