In the world of modern broadcasting, there are two main styles of professional workflow management. The first and classical system is driven principally by the pre-defined functionalities of the software, leaving little or no scope for individual preferences and creative input. But, there is always light at the end of the tunnel (the end of the licensing period) affording the opportunity for broadcasters to step up to the second style which provides considerably greater flexibility and opportunities for creative changes arising from the enhanced configurability of this kind of system.
This short article will focus solely on the beauties of the varying but advanced configurability offered by higher level Broadcast Management Systems. Several levels exist, namely, configurability of GUI, Users’ Rights, Workflows + Messaging, Reports, Data Model, and even the Code itself. Of course, the package must originally be delivered configured to the best practice in the industry, and compatible with modern workflows and contemporary operational demands. The key to the beauty of the higher level system is that once adopted, it can be adapted.
Let us consider GUI (Graphic User Interface) first of all. GUI configurability gives the operator not only satisfaction for his/her creative soul (e.g. through different colours and skins), but offers administrators and superusers maximum flexibility for the ergonomic positioning of icons (selected from a wide range), columns, fields, tables, screens, symbols, tabs, etc. together with the possibility of adding or removing pre-existing items.
Turning now to Users’ Rights, we enter the domain of the administrator who has the responsibility for allocating the access control of different users. A sophisticated configurable system must have the power to offer the administrator total control over the definition, adjustment and allocation of roles and their relationships to different attributes.
Workflows and messaging are particularly subject to frequent updates and changes. Therefore, the configurability of all related management procedures is crucial. For example, the management of TV production or resources can be understood as specific items for project management. Different types of production and post-production, content delivery and processing, orders, approvals, etc. require flexible change tracking and adaptable messaging to run the whole broadcasting organisation smoothly and efficiently.
Reports have always been a critical output of any Broadcast Management System as they provide commercial, managerial and legal information on the ever-changing state of the business thus enabling proper decision making. In an advanced system, there must always be an integrated reporting tool which can create a series of standard reports or provide assistance and definition to any number of ad-hoc reports which may be required from time-to-time. In addition to this functionality, there should also be a standard API interface which can give access to our data to approved third parties to generate their own specialised reports.
The question of accessing the Data Model raises the spectre of “thin ice” and should only be made available to more experienced administrators. In a state-of-the-art management system, there must exist the opportunity to create new attributes in the data models, but one must always bear in mind that any changes in the data model carry the risk of incompatibility with future upgrades. Provys for example allows administrators to operate the upgraded system whilst being able to switch on or off the new features which could be influenced by the re-configured data model.
The last, but certainly not the least subject for configuration is the Code. An advanced knowledge of programming languages such as PL/SQL is required. This can be undertaken by skilled members of the broadcast staff or is often prepared by consultants of the software house as and when required. This type of configuration is used to provide new functionalities or the import of data into the system, for example.
“Configuring workflow systems is more and more an integral part of daily broadcast operations owing to the increasing prevalence of disruptors in this sector creating the need for ever more flexibility in workflow management.” Renata Chytkova, Senior Consultant, Provys.