Creative Communications Company Automates Operations with QuickBase
Robert Berning Productions (RBP) launched its business over 30 years ago with only three
employees. Back then, it was RBP's broadcast and film expertise that drew clients to this
successful agency. Today, its broad range of marketing, design, interactive and broadcast skills
keeps the group humming, along with its commitment to delivering high-quality services that
exceed client expectations.
As the business grew, RBP needed to replace its paper-based work orders with a streamlined
operations management system. Not only was the paper-based system inefficient, but the
printing of custom forms was expensive. In addition, incomplete or inaccurate orders cost the
company time and money.
"We were using stacks of custom-printed and numbered forms to manage our work orders.
Information was sometimes incomplete. A rush order could end up at the bottom of the stack,"
said Ed Metz, vice president and director of technical services at the company.
Paper-based orders had to be distributed manually from department to department. Weekly
staff meetings were required to review all open work orders, costing the company about 50
hours each month of valuable staff time that could have been better used for client work. The
time-consuming nature of the process put limits on how much work the agency could take on.
"It was tempting," said Metz, "to verbally execute orders because it was so taxing to fill out the
paper form and distribute multiple copies to various departments."
QuickBase Functionality Steals the Show
RBP researched many software options for automating the work order system, including
traditional database management and hosted workgroup application software. But it was
QuickBase's functionality and its 30-day free trial offer with no restrictions that won the
"With a full 30-day free trial, we were able to quickly develop a fully functional model of our
operations management system, which took about one minute to sell to RBP's owner and
founder, Robert Berning," commented Metz.
Ease of use was important, since Metz is a filmmaker and photographer by trade not an IT
professional. "QuickBase made it easy for me to do what I wanted to with the software without
having a lot of technical expertise. Compared to Microsoft Access or Filemaker, the ability to
set up multiple related tables is a snap; Quickbase does much of the work for me. If I do have
a question about a formula or report design, the active online Community Forum is a great
resource," he said.
QuickBase's web-based, cross-browser functionality came in handy, too, as some RBP staff
used PCs while others were on the Mac. In addition, Intuit's reputation as a secure hosted
application provider gave the company confidence that their data would be safeguarded long
into the future.
Not only did the operations management system that Metz developed automate work orders,
but it also streamlined overall operations for the company. Work orders are now linked to
contracts, for simplified project management. Tasks are now easily viewed and managed, alerting
managers when critical deadlines are approaching. Time cards track the resources used for
each work order, so job estimates can be compared with actual time spent. Rate tables link to
time cards for a streamlined billing process. Finally, a media asset catalog is linked to the work
orders, reducing the time needed to locate relevant physical media assets when needed.
But RPB didn't stop there. Metz also created a sales management application for lead nurturing
and sales operations. He is currently working on a production management system to streamline
activities in their busy film and video production department.
"From scouting locations, scheduling crew, ordering equipment, buying props to final wrap and
delivery, QuickBase will put every detail of every job at our fingertips," said Metz.
Winning Performance Commands Rave Reviews
Almost five years and 10,000 work orders later, RBP's operations management system functions
at the very core of its business process. Since 2003, the company has doubled its revenue
and increased its staff to 20 to keep up with demand. On any given day, the agency may have
as many as 40 open jobs and 300 active work orders this would have crippled the old, paperbased
work order system.
Weekly staff meetings are shorter and attended only by managers, leaving the rest of the staff
available to focus on client work.
"I estimate that well over 50 work hours per month are saved in our staff meetings, plus an
additional savings of four hours per month in walking-around "sneakernet" time!" remarked Metz.
Countless hours are recovered, now that work orders can be searched and retrieved online.
Consistent data entry and required fields save time, compared to incomplete paper documents.
Email reminders keep projects and staff resources on target. Web access to work orders
and project data keeps employees productive from remote locations.
RBP clients benefit from the system, too. Email alerts are automatically sent to clients when
a job is opened, so they know when work on their accounts has started. It's an added level of
customer communications made possible with QuickBase.
"QuickBase gave us the right combination of features affordability, ease of use and provider
stability," said Metz. "Like most small companies, we do not have a dedicated IT team. With
QuickBase, we are able to develop, maintain and upgrade our custom applications in-house as
our service menu and business model evolves."