NAB Reflections: PPI President/CEO Scott West on How Procrewz App Makes a Difference in Managing Crews
Program Productions Inc. (PPI) holds a unique place at the NAB Show: it is the only booth where discussions focus less on technology and more on people. There are discussions not only on how to find new production talent but also on hiring and managing thousands of freelancers. A little bit of technology is discussed: the ProCrewz app gives freelancers a tremendous amount of power and information at their fingertips. SVG examined the latest developments with PPI President/CEO Scott West.
We are here at NAB 2023, which is all about technology. Can you give us an update on PPI and what being here at the show means?
Our messaging is all about helping attendees understand who we are, as there is no labor-management section in this conference. It’s mostly technology workflows. So we want to let everybody know who we are and let them know what we do in terms of labor and how we have created and applied technology to labor.
We feel that nobody has ever done anything with technology in our segment; it has always been paper and pencil. But we’ve developed a platform that allows us to efficiently manage workflows and are on track to manage more than 30,000 events in 2023 without a single piece of paper. This is also a great place to reconnect with our existing customer base.
Over the past few years, we’ve been discussing the labor shortage in our business. Are things improving?
We’ve worked on our training and recruitment plan, especially in areas and markets where we find we’re not as deep in certain key positions. The number of people that left after the COVID pandemic limited some of the availability of quality trained and skilled technicians, but we’ve identified a multitude of people that have some potential and interest in moving up to the next level. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re certainly making progress.
The other challenge in that market is, not only are there fewer people but there are more events and new leagues, like the USFL, LIV, and XFL and many other new things. And we’re here in Las Vegas, where we manage the in-house labor for Allegiant Stadium; their in-house team for NFL football is almost 40 people. The challenge just compounds itself.
Getting back to technology, what are some of the enhancements you have added?
We’ve had some new developments in terms of scheduling and calendar views on the client portal so end users can come into the system and be able to see and schedule shows in different ways. Visually, it is more representative of how calendars work, and that was a key improvement for us.
We’ve had the ability for technicians to see estimated pay in the mobile app prior to the event, to help prevent pay errors, but [we have] integrated the ability of a freelancer to not only see their estimated pay but to see their last paycheck and all the things that were actually paid and have a reference point without having to leave the ProCrewz ecosystem.
We’ve also added a new crisis-management connection point to the mobile app, as our work has been strong with Hazelden Betty Ford and other entities for help in many different areas. We want freelancers to be able to access any of those programs if they’re on the road away from home.
The feedback has been strong. People like that ProCrewz is simple to use and has a lot of information at your fingertips, including things like turn-by-turn directions, venue information, production books, expense reimbursement, and announcements.