Adelaide Fringe Festival

The Adelaide Fringe Festival is the largest open access arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere, boasting an enormous program and reaching a broad demographic. It runs annually for four weeks in February and March.

Adelaide Fringe events are ‘open access’, meaning there are no curators handpicking shows. Artists across all disciplines can register, along with venues across the city, facilitating a matchmaking element between them.

They needed the ability for both artists and venues to register their details. They also needed an extensive scheduling tool to facilitate 31 days of Fringe Festival performances and the matchmaking between the 400-odd venues and the 1000+ artists that register each year. There was nothing available off the shelf that suited their requirements.

Problem:

“We had been using a system that was 10 yrs old. We didn’t own the intellectual property for the platform and updates were slow and/or problematic. Further, the system wasn’t user friendly or intuitive and required manual intervention at different points to facilitate the proper registration of venues and artists.

“We wanted a development partner who would provide us with the ability to be part of the day-to-day steps of building our new Festival Artist and Venue Registration.”

“We had very little time and not much money in the scheme of things, so we needed a skilled team with the ability to get the job done on time.”

Heather Croall — CEO, Adelaide Fringe

Heather also wanted an open source approach, rather than the company that built it owning the platform. Their existing solution required problems to be fixed by the company that originally built it, allowing her no direct access to the code. A major part of their business revolves around changing needs, so the Fringe Festival needed to be in control with the ability to make amendments through an in-house developer.

Why reinteractive?

Having encountered Rails in its early days, Heather was looking for an open-source platform that would give the Adelaide Fringe Festival greater flexibility than the proprietary system they had been using.

After a tendering process, reinteractive were chosen. For Heather, reinteractive could not have been a better choice:

“reinteractive ticked every box plus a lot more. We got what we wanted and on time. It was an enjoyable process collaborating closely with the developers on a daily basis to build our new platform. I had input and control through the whole process. Our staff tested each new module as each feature was built on an almost daily basis. And if we didn’t like it, we could change it. No more putting forward a wish list and hoping it got met. You end up getting a system/platform that will meet your needs as a result.

“We required flexibility because we had an unchangeable deadline: to implement a new system for this year’s festival, or we would have to put it off for a whole year. reinteractive were able to deliver.

“Their large, skilled team meant we were able to bring on more developers during key crunch times in the build. If we needed 2 extra developers, they were readily allocated, ensuring no downtime.

“Their focus always remained on delivering a quality product without cutting corners. It feels really good to have confidence you are getting the best value for money spent.”

Heather Croall — CEO, Adelaide Fringe

Benefits of Agile process based collaboration & transparency in the development process:

The reinteractive team work using the Agile software development system. This ensures the client is involved in every step of the project, with a resulting high degree of communication and collaboration between the client and project team, providing more opportunities for the team to truly understand the client’s goals and to produce it.

The Agile system allows for complete transparency of the design and build process and this was a key must for Heather because she needed to keep to her deadline.

In the past, clients needed to provide up front the exact specifications of what they want done and then the coding team go away and build a multi-featured codebase which the client doesn’t see until it’s ready to launch. But that often doesn’t work.

Daily standup meetings involving both the client and the development team provide an opportunity for discussion of evolving requirements, and new features are delivered quickly and frequently, with a high degree of predictability. While the team stays focused on delivering an agreed-upon set of the product features during each iteration, there is an opportunity to continually refine and re-prioritise. New or changed items can be planned for the next iteration, providing the opportunity to introduce changes rapidly.

“Even though we were not in the same location, we stayed in regular communication with both the developers and the Project Manager, which is really important. A few times I had to bring my board and my chairman in and they felt cared for and were spoken to in language they could understand.”

—Heather Croall - CEO, Adelaide Fringe

Also working with a larger group of developers for knowledge-sharing meant that problems and bugs were solved much sooner — “more eyeballs and brains on the project.” During some of the more nail-biting moments, she was really happy with the way reinteractive responded.

Results:

“The first impact was when we launched the new platform and a lot of return artists were really happy with it. We had no official launch of it but they sent us unsolicited emails and tweets saying: “It’s so much better”, “Can’t believe how easy it is” and “40 minutes compared to two days”. It was a user-friendly process with a great user experience. We were really proud of that.

“We now have a platform, which is ours, and we can make it work for us. It’s brilliant. We are not trying to retrofit ourselves into it – we are one with our AVR (Artist Venue Registration) platform. We know that we can keep improving it and it is built based on the needs of our users. Our Artists often have specific quirky requirements from their point of view. We know that it is serving a lot of those needs. Our clients are the artists and the venues. It’s a much better user experience than any previous open access platform that I have used.”

—Heather Croall - CEO, Adelaide Fringe

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