There is no software to install and it's completely Web-based. The only setup involved on my end is adding users and some general system options. We have been running PPO for close to two years now and it has only experienced one or two hiccups, which were fixed in a matter of 20 to 30 minutes with one e-mail to John Laderer.
The production order form is user-friendly.
This leads me to another aspect of the system I really like: customer service. When I first started with the system I noticed some areas I liked and some areas I thought could use some tweaking. John was very willing to take the time and hear my thoughts, which led to many weeks of brainstorming and tweaks to get it not only to run for my department, but current and future clients. To this date I can shoot John an e-mail with a suggestion and get a response the same day. This also goes for anybody who uses the system: Just click the feature request, fill out the form, hit submit and you're done!
Once the order is submitted the process can start on everyone who is involved. For example: After the AE fills out the order and submits it I can then assign a producer, assign it to the copy writer, traffic and continuity can enter it in the traffic system and assign it numbers, and the whole time the AE looks at his screen and sees the status. We used to have a problem with orders waiting to get processed, but now everyone involved can work on it at the same time, which means better efficiency.
The only real struggle I dealt with was how to make the switch from our old paper system to PPO without an all-out revolution from the sales people. I selected a couple of sales people to be guinea pigs for two weeks. They gave me instant feedback. After all the adjustments were made, I rolled the system to the entire sales staff and never looked back.
PPO isn't a system that can stand alone like on-air automation; it requires everyone involved to his part and needs constant attention. Some production directors I have spoken with feel it can replace them and they would be out of a job. PPO doesn't voice or produce the spots, nor does it use some complicated formula to create and delegate the orders. Without someone at the helm steering and telling it what to do this system will simply sit there and do nothing. PPO is a very useful tool that benefits everyone using it and I predict that in the very near future it or systems similar will become an industry standard much like a DAW and Internet-based music libraries.
I think I can speak for everyone at our five-station cluster in saying that it has been one of the most useful and beneficial systems we use. It's interesting to look back and remember the days of piles of orders sitting on my desk and trying to make head or tails of them. I wonder how I was able to keep my sanity in this thing we call radio.
Pallarino is the creative director at Entercom Upstate, Greenville, SC.
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