“Yesplan works like we work”

It’s no small feat to manage 239.000 visitors. Parkstad Limburg Theaters programmes about 900 shows per year in Heerlen and Kerkrade, in The Netherlands. Performing arts and pop concerts make up the larger part, but the organisation also hosts meetings and conferences at different locations. Planning coordinator Stefan Smets is adamant: “We’d be nowhere without a planning system.”

It took Parkstad Limburg Theatres two weeks to feel the difference.

“We have four main venues, not counting extras like the lobbies and the artists’ café. We like to keep a broad scope: we programme classical music as well as pop, opera, theatre, musical, cabaret, even commercial rental of our spaces. But the performing arts remain our core business.” 

Parkstad Limburg Theaters switched to Yesplan only two weeks ago. “Exciting!” says Smets, who leads the implementation. “I’ve been warming up to Yesplan for a while now myself, but to the rest of the organisation this is new. We’re starting off with basic planning and will expand later. Not all steps of the process are on track yet.” 

 The quest for flexibility

Up until now, another software package was at the core of the planning department. “We bought it ten years ago, but we’re not the organisation now that we were then. We’ve grown enormously, and our planning system couldn’t take the pressure any longer. At the end of the line, the software just couldn’t keep up in terms of speed and flexibility. For example, the limited amount of licenses did not allow everybody to use the system simultaneously. Within our current fast-paced workflow, that led to irritation at peak moments. The old planning system just wasn’t enough anymore.” 

“What we needed was a system that worked the way we want to work, with different venues integrated into one flow.” That’s exactly the flexibility Smets found in Yesplan. “What I love most is how you can create your own design. You can really play around with it as if you were using an iPad — it’s all so intuitive and clear. I know that I will be able to integrate our CRM at a later stage, which will open up new paths in the future.” 

“Thanks to Yesplan, you start changing workflows from the inside — and that’s crucial.”

Don't fear the switch

Preparation stands on par with implementation, Smets says. “Yes, it took some time to get everybody on board. This is a real investment, it requires efforts from the organisation at large. The whole team will need to know the ropes in the end, so it’s important to involve them in the decision-making process as well. We discovered that large parts of our old planning software had never been used, so there was some initial resistance to make the transition to Yesplan. We want to avoid that now by making sure that we fully use every facet we develop.” 

Two weeks after the big leap, Smets is a happy man. “My biggest fear was that there would be glitches during the migration. But it ran flawlessly: within half a week all the importing was done. By next Wednesday, we will only be planning in Yesplan! Initially I thought that we would be managing two systems simultaneously for a while, but Yesplan advised against that. There was some stress about that on our side, but they clearly have the experience on their side and stayed calm during every step of the implementation. Looking back, I’m very happy with their advice. Running two systems at the same time would only have caused more confusion and more work.” 

More than a planning system 

So the implementation went smoothly, thanks in part to Parkstad Limburg Theaters taking the time to mould the software around every team’s needs. Smets: “You have to listen carefully to every department. Everybody requires different functions and you need to make sure they are all reflected in the system. Some needs can contradict each other, meaning you need to make choices.” 

“We are live now, with about thirty employees using Yesplan intensively. I can feel the difference already. We have a better overview and that puts everybody more at ease. For instance, the tech department are now inserting all their technical riders into Yesplan. It’s a lot of work, yes, and they need to get used to the switch as well, but we hear that people are already reaping benefits of this implementation on the job. That’s nice to hear.” 

In Smets’ opinion, the essence of Yesplan lies in its being more than bare management software. “It’s more than just that”, he concludes. “Thanks to Yesplan, you start changing workflows from the inside — and that’s crucial. You organise things more efficiently, which is no small feat indeed. I’m convinced this will save us a lot of work in the long run.” 

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