In 2015, TEGNA Media’s broadcast art department, the TEGNA Design Tank, had reached the usable limits of its existing media asset management system. The “Tank,” as it is referred to by TEGNA‘s 36 local-market broadcast television stations, had been using a patched together mix of two end-of-life systems to manage its >40 TB of digital media assets since its inception in 2008. Further OS upgrades on the department’s 22 workstations would have rendered the existing system unworkable due to its dependence on an old version of Java that had been deprecated in newer OS releases. The Tank needed a new MAM. Mark Myers, Director/Information Systems and Broadcast Digital Initiatives for TEGNA Media, was not content with a drop in replacement for the existing system, as there were significant departmental needs in terms of front end integration and business intelligence that would not be met by a simple MAM. Instead, he envisioned a seamless experience for the Tank’s artists and managers – a system that worked like they worked, that pushed the workflow forward into a more efficient model, and provided a robust data set that could be leveraged to make better business decisions.
“Our existing MAM was a combination of tools that were designed for an editorial or production workflow,” according to Mr. Myers. “We were always bumping up against limitations due to poor support for the post production motion graphics and VFX space we lived in and due to limited integration options. We had done some work to reduce inefficiencies, but there were always ‘holes’ we had to fill manually.” One of the biggest holes was an inability for the system to integrate with the artists’ primary tools, including Adobe Creative Cloud applications and Cinema 4D. “We ended up with a bit of a Frankenstein system, where assets were managed hierarchically on our SAN but indexed after the fact for search and archive. This led to massive inefficiencies due to manually enforced naming conventions and project structures and the inherent unreliability of manual processes. As tight as we tried to maintain it, our filesystem would eventually bleed. After six years of living with this system, we were ready to modernize.”
The decision to implement TACTIC came after a thorough RFP process where the Tank investigated several competitors in the media asset management space. While all of them fulfilled the asset management portion of the RFP, none except TACTIC came close to the required level of integration between asset and production management and the level of support for a motion graphics centric workflow. Initial estimates projected a 5% gain in overall department efficiency by implementing a seamless asset and production management system, which justified a 5 year NPV estimate of well over 100%.
“The Southpaw engineering and sales team were fantastic. They were able to translate our needs into our TACTIC | Workflow configuration, and they went above and beyond to ensure a successful rollout.”
The Tank worked with Southpaw Technology to install and configure TACTIC | Workflow in their department. It engaged Southpaw professional services to customize the workflow to meet its needs and to ensure everything was configured correctly. Initial rollout began in September 2015 and was live and in production by late October.
According to Mr. Myers, “The Southpaw engineering and sales team were fantastic. They were able to translate our needs into our TACTIC | Workflow configuration, and they went above and beyond to ensure a successful rollout.”
“the Tank is showing 25% gains in terms of orders fulfilled, far surpassing project goals.”
The results were far better than initial estimates. Comparing overall artist productivity between year-to-date 2016 and the same year-to-date period in 2015, the Tank is showing 25% gains in terms of orders fulfilled, far surpassing project goals. If this rate continues to prove sustainable, TACTIC will have paid for itself in terms of increased productivity within a year.
One of TACTIC | Workflow’s features that has contributed to this productivity increase is its ability to break projects down into ever smaller granularity, as needed. The Tank’s work ranges from quick turn daily graphics for local broadcast news to full fledged graphics packages for major events and shows. This variety disallows a monolithic approach to project management, and TACTIC | Workflow allows project structure to reflect production requirements, on an ad hoc basis. And this complexity is obfuscated from the client, who is able to fill out a simple order form without worrying about production schedule details.
“Southpaw’s responsive engineering team, has changed the game for us”
TACTIC | Workflow’s workflow automation capabilities power the Tank’s distribution to its nationwide clients. The simple step of updating task status triggers automated transcode of the final asset and delivery to the Tank’s asset portal for its clients, plus delivery notification via email.
TACTIC | Workflow also brought new possibilities in terms of business intelligence, which the Tank is only just starting to leverage. Its task based workflow allows managers to accurately assess overall productivity and make changes as needed for department optimization. Because of its flexibility, the system itself can be updated to meet new workflow requirements without breaking. Rather than relying solely on manual procedures, TACTIC automates many processes that increase productivity on a daily basis and automatically records production data for reporting and analysis.
“We can spend more time doing our work and optimizing our workflow, and less time repeating manual procedures”
“Because of its granular approach and automation, we can spend more time doing our work and optimizing our workflow, and less time repeating manual procedures. We know how much time it takes to build a certain type of graphic, and we can assess how this time is being spent. We can monitor our overall productivity and make adjustments as necessary to ensure that our clients are getting the best results for the best value.”
The Tank’s TACTIC | Workflow system continues to be a work in progress. Already, the TEGNA Design Tank is plotting out new trajectories and new refinements to their workflow and business. TACTIC | Workflow is flexible enough to keep up with this evolution and powerful enough to drive ideas that had never been imagined before.
TEGNA Inc. (NYSE: TGNA), formerly Gannett Co., Inc., is comprised of a dynamic portfolio of media and digital businesses that provide content that matters and brands that deliver. TEGNA reaches more than 90 million Americans and delivers highly relevant, useful and smart content, when and how people need it, to make the best decisions possible. TEGNA Media includes 46 television stations and is the largest independent station group of major network affiliates in the top 25 markets, reaching approximately one third of all television households nationwide. TEGNA Digital is comprised of Cars.com, the leading online destination for automotive consumers, CareerBuilder, a global leader in human capital solutions, and other powerful brands such as G/O Digital and Cofactor. For more information, visit www.TEGNA.com