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It's All About the Data: Studios Are Demanding Better Finance Tools

The last 20 years haven't seen stellar technical progress for production finance.

Productions and individual crew members have relied on familiar paper processes, often resisting a move to digital timecards, start work, and other production solutions, believing the evolution might slow them down, cost more money, or increase the margin for error. While understandable, this mindset presented real, ongoing barriers to digitalization. 

But times have changed. 

The 2020 pandemic created an urgent need for production finance teams to go 100% digital for crew onboarding, production payroll, and accounting workflows and approvals. Now, two years later, everyone is a lot more comfortable with digital adoption, and studios have an opportunity to make major upgrades from old platforms and processes.

 

DIGITAL HYPE VS. TRUE EFFICIENCY

What's most important when it comes to better production finance tools? Studios want holistic views of their data, and they want to access it in real time, depending on how they need to view and understand it in any given situation. This runs the gamut from data ingestion to data extraction and reporting, and it can't happen in fragments. To get true access to data in these ways, studios need one seamless, web-based solution. 

All back-office providers say they are “100% digital,” but what do they really mean? Unfortunately, many providers use marketing spin to describe dated software systems as “complete, modern solutions,” even though they are not all-in-one solutions, completely web-based, or entirely in the cloud. 

Often, when these providers discover their software has gaps in providing what their clients need, they address specific problems with patches and add-ons. They acquire existing products to fill those gaps, from entire systems to single solutions, with the goal of piecing together a “complete” solution that looks and feels the same. But the reality is that they are separate systems – and users then have yet one more system to learn, one more login to remember, and one more user interface to manage. 

To illustrate, imagine building a new facade on the front of an old house. It looks good from the street, but it's a completely different story inside. Once through the front door, you find the plumbing is old, the heating and electrical are from different decades, and the building offers no efficient or modern amenities. You could do your laundry with a washboard and bucket if that's all the house had to offer, but why would you? No one wants to spend hours using outdated tools when there are better, faster ways.

The alternative approach, and the best way to deliver true efficiency, is to give users one end-to-end system with one interface. This provides a seamless workflow and naturally eliminates the need to export from one system to another or repeat data entry in disparate databases. It also ensures the integrity of data since it’s all in one place, rather than being distributed and fractured. 

FULL-SPECTRUM DATA ACCESS

Studios need full-spectrum data access from their finance application and third-party production companies.  When everyone adopts one system, that helps to: 

  • Reduce data entry
    In an all-in-one system like GreenSlate, we never make you repeat the same data twice. There is no need to fill out digital timecard hours, then export into your HTG system, then export to your payroll provider.
  • Improve data integrity
    When every part of the application knows about every other, you always have the most up-to-date information at your fingertips: e.g. your account coding on your timecard is accessible directly from your chart of accounts.
  • Manage more projects  
    From a single consolidated view, you can see your entire slate in one dashboard and easily drill down to journal entry details, timecards, PTO, and more. All in the same system.

WHY SHOULD STUDIOS CARE? WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Among the industry's three main entertainment payroll providers, platforms have been built fundamentally differently. 

GreenSlate is built from the ground up to the most advanced web-based coding standards. It's entirely cohesive and hasn't been assembled via acquisition.

An all-in-one web application for payroll and production accounting provides unique benefits to productions, production accountants and the crew.

  • There is no logging in and out of multiple platforms, exporting and importing, or piecing together solutions with different software.
  • Everyone works in one system so everyone can work faster.
  • Individual data is entered directly in the app by the individual, eliminating errors from rekeying or syncing apps.
  • The data is stored and reusable from project to project. 

At the enterprise level, data integrations are especially attractive. They can be built quickly and support large scale erp systems like Workday, SAP,  or NetSuite. Studios can push data into the GreenSlate application and easily pull data out via APIs. 

Here are just a few examples of how companies are taking advantage of data integrations today.

Payroll data

  • Push employee data into our app to facilitate onboarding and start work forms. 
  • Push timecard info into our app from third party systems.
  • Use the GreenSlate HTG engine to calculate union gross pay.
  • Synchronize user accounts between systems.

Accounting data

  • Pull payroll invoice or vendor info out of our system to synchronize with corporate payment systems.
  • Push accounting data into our system for cost reporting.
  • Pull accounting data into corporate reports.

Now more than ever, studios need to go digital to streamline operations, seamlessly access information from anywhere, and simplify approval flows and processes, but they know they'll have to replace outdated tools with a more powerful system that has the capabilities they need. GreenSlate has the answer: the only true all-in-one web-based platform built from the start on a modern tech stack, focused on providing the industry's most innovative solutions for our clients' evolving needs.

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Learn more about GreenSlate's enterprise integrations

GreenSlate
26 August 2022

Production
Digital Solutions