The Hub is ready for its close-up on day 1
At a glance
Working behind the scenes to support the film and television industry, Contract Services helps Hollywood employers meet a wide array of contractual, legal and regulatory requirements and keeps tens of thousands of motion picture production employees safety trained and eligible to work. The 57-year-old nonprofit engaged Slalom to create the Industry Hub: a public-facing database for employers and the gateway to a brand-new self-service portal for Industry Professionals (its term for the creative and technical professionals who work on production).
These new tools not only represented a significant upgrade to Contract Services’ capacity to deliver on its mission, it also transformed the user experience for an entire industry. The result has received applause from every audience!
Media & entertainment
Key Technologies / Platforms
- Salesforce Experience and Service Cloud implementation
Making an impact behind the scenes in Hollywood
Most people outside film and TV will never hear of Contract Services. But tens of thousands of Industry Professionals who comprise the production workforce (e.g., costume designers, make-up artists, camera operators, and many more) and the studios hiring them know that Contract Services ensures these workers are safety trained, skilled in their craft, and compliant with government and labor requirements.
Established by the major film studios in 1965, Contact Services Administration Trust Fund is tasked with important services that facilitate a smooth employment experience for a vast freelance workforce. One of its primary roles is to maintain rosters of Industry Professionals who must satisfy work experience, safety training and other requirements. In the simplest example, Industry Professionals must apply to Contract Services for placement on a roster, demonstrate their eligibility by providing proof of qualifying work experience, and then maintain various roster and safety training requirements in order to stay compliant and eligible for employment. This system keeps a large pool of artists, technicians and creative professionals ready to work for a significant number of Hollywood studios.
Over time, the population the nonprofit serves has grown to include nearly 60,000 Industry Professionals working in more than 200 different job classifications under dozens of different union contracts.
Contract Services’ systems had grown organically over many decades, leading to users navigating multiple disparate legacy platforms, manual paper-based processes and exceedingly cumbersome workflows in order to pull together workable views of Industry Professionals' qualifications. Unfortunately, almost none of this information was transparent to Industry Professionals themselves, who often found it difficult to understand what they needed to do or where they stood in the process.
It was time for a new angle.
Seeking to transform its business and better serve its stakeholders through a new core operating platform, Contract Services engaged Slalom as a strategic partner.
Starting with a wide shot, then zooming in
To fully understand the breadth of the project, the Slalom team began by assessing 20 client legacy systems and leading more than 45 workshops to review and improve operational workflows. Before development began, over 260 user stories were crafted, as well as technical architecture designs, data migration and integration plans, user interfaces, and an implementation roadmap.
The big idea? The Industry Hub— or “The Hub,” for short. One simple, easy-to-use platform for an entire industry, where anyone could search Contract Services’ publicly available roster and training records and where Industry Professionals themselves could create an account, complete their application requirements and maintain their ongoing obligations (including safety training) with ease.
It quickly became apparent that creating The Hub would be complicated, as the size and complexity were beyond anything most organizations encounter. With more than 200 different job classifications, many with their own unique requirements and esoteric rules, the level of detail among use cases was astonishing.
"The system we created serves a vast collection of 'edge cases,' rather than a small set of 'normal' uses," offers Slalom senior principal, Jason Arnold. "Nearly every element has been highly customized, and very little was leveraged from Salesforce out of the box."
For example, in some cases, Contract Services needed to store data about an Industry Professional before they'd even set up a user profile. An API integration was created to receive and hold information from leading entertainment payroll companies, so they could confirm Industry Professionals' eligibility for certain job types.
"Fortunately, the client's teams, including the C-suite, were extremely passionate, mission driven, and precise about their needs," adds Arnold. Contract Services was able to build consensus on their vision for technology tooling and future-state operations and empower Slalom to build it.
Nothing less than a camera-ready, pixel-perfect solution
It was a big lift. Using agile methodology, Slalom hyper-customized Salesforce Experience and Service Clouds with a bespoke user interface, more than 6,000 business rules, and integrations with 15-plus in-house and third-party apps via MuleSoft.
Perhaps the greatest challenge, however, was the requirement for a complete, fully functional platform upon initial release. "Contract Services needed to go live with a tool that could be released and used by Industry Professionals immediately. It had to work flawlessly from launch," explains Arnold. "That meant we couldn’t aim for a minimum viable product or a bare-bones tool that first adopters would access to provide feedback. We had to satisfy all use cases and delight every constituent right off the bat."
Ultimately, by working closely together, Contract Services and Slalom were able to design and deliver a solution that covered all the bases.
Six million records were migrated from legacy systems, making it easy for stakeholders to search, view and send information and documents through Salesforce. Individual portals, designed specifically for unions and Industry Professionals, provide automated reports and dashboards for easy reference.
Naturally, webpages are optimized for mobile and desktop, to support these often-freelance, on-the-go audiences.
Automated business rules, workflows and notifications provide Contract Services staff and approved users greater visibility into users’ records and reduce manual effort.
To further ensure success, videos and detailed manuals were created to train and support six client departments on how to use the new system.
On launch day, The Hub went live — with full functionality and minimal hiccups. Within a few days of launch, nearly a third of Industry Professionals (~20,000) had claimed their new Portal accounts, and since then thousands more have done so.
The results are clear. The Hub is a hit.
“The new Industry Hub and Portal are truly game-changers, showcasing the remarkable progress and positive transformation I have personally witnessed at Contract Services.“ – Tobey Bays, Business Agent – Local #44 (Affiliated Property Craftspersons)
The Industry Hub allows Contract Services to collaborate with Hollywood employers, unions and Industry Professionals with ease and accuracy, bolstering their reputation as a leading partner to the entertainment community.
“We've been able to improve the way a large part of the entertainment industry functions. Instead of being a required administrative burden, The Hub is helping a whole industry function better,“ muses Arnold. “For those of us on the consulting side, it’s been a thrill to know we've achieved something difficult and work with a client organization that’s so passionate about its cause. And it's been humbling to see that our solution is making Contract Services employees' jobs easier—and is making it a smoother process for entertainment professionals to be hired.”
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