Being a legacy volume client, NBC and the networks under the Comcast umbrella had been Studio System clients for the better part of 10 years prior to engaging in a conversation to create a custom solution for the Network. After engaging in technical diligence process we entered into a multi year contractual agreement to power a new NBCUniversal custom white label version of the Studio System that allowed NBC users to track television projects from creation to archival as well as supplementing person and company information already available in the Studio System with proprietary tracking information.
Legacy NBC Tracking Tool
So how do you build a centralized solution for 22 networks with their own unique way of tracking information? NBC had built an internal tool called ShowTracker which allowed for tracking of project and person level information which we would be replacing. Due to lack of ongoing development engagement and adoption of the internal tool each network resorted to tracking information via excel spreadsheets managed by development executives at each network with no standardized format or audit trails. Our goal at hand was to analyze the core use cases needed to power a global solution to gain adoption where other tools fell short, provide a security model for data integrity, and scalable technology to integrate with additional NBC internal tools.
Starting the Engagement Process
In kicking off the requirements gathering phase we integrated ourselves as if we were NBCUniversal employees to gain a deep understanding and ins and outs of their day to day roles and areas to which we could optimize. The focus on the engagement was to create an adopted end to end solution for core NBC properties with 90% of use cases for subsidiary networks. We met with creative heads of the major networks and broke down their individual needs to which then we graphed the needs of each network to find commonalities and eliminate fringe cases.
NBC Universal and Baseline Tracking
Being that Baseline and the Studio System already tracked television pilots at all NBC networks as well as robust tracking for people and companies there was a strategic overlap of content that was architected in order for NBC to leverage the available tracked data which was constantly being updated while being able to create new records or append existing to track information important to each network.
The core integration and use case revolved around the end to end management of TV properties throughout their entire lifecycle and creating audit snapshots throughout the process. By integrating custom NBC components into our existing site we allowed access of proprietary information to only NBCUniversal employees based on an administration provisioning layer.
Pitches and Development
Here NBC was able to create projects from the pitch stage which consisted of internal meetings to which creators or producers pitch a high volume of projects, sometimes 20-30 at a time. Here end users needed a way to add project information in mass without enforced data validation.
Once a pitch is approved for further investment it falls within the in-development phase to which there is a financial commitment. Here we integrated with NBCs internal deal memo system to commit resources to a project as well as standardize the related companies and persons affiliates to the project.
Both of these phases are highly proprietary to NBC and it's networks and as such we architected the system to not have access to any of the pre-pilot information for security and competitive intelligence purposes. This was a safety protocol highly tested and proven due to the centralization of information.
For projects in the development phase we also integrated an email communication relay based on internal Standards departments protocols for notification of project status' and network level approval workflows, media management, and audit trails for all changes to the record from creation.
Being that Baseline tracked projects from the Pilot stage and acquired information from available publications or internal proprietary source this is the point to which NBC had the ability to promote their internal projects to baseline to be publicly visible to the Studio System general public. At this point Baseline would take over and manage the projects through their pilot, seasonal and episodic life-cycles. If a project already existed in the Studio System a project merge would take place to ensure no duplicates existed and to centralize the tracking of the project.
Once a pilot was committed to series Baseline would track the seasonal and episodic information on a go forward basis with a connection into an internal NBC scheduling application that syndicated air dates and press listings to television providers around the world. This series tracking would occur for the entire lifecycle of a project until it's series run ends and becomes a catalog title. All NBC information again was only available to employees of those networks based on conditional access controls.
Data Management Model
To enforce the data integrity of the project tracking we employed the following structure to conditionally provide editable modules related to a project record based on it's current state in time and disabled any historic snapshot information or future forward information not needed until a later point in time and future workflow.
Project Promotion and Workflow
Below is an outline of the project workflow from pitch to catalog title with validation rules around promoting a project to the next phase of development or archiving based on not investing in a project.
Person and Company Management Solution
A huge value to NBCUniversal users were the available company and person records in the studio system which were constantly updated for accurate representation and contact information as well as employment and project level attachments. These existing records were customized to incorporate network specific segmentation and rating information in the following categories.
Profile Management - Admin Entitlement
Based on the user provisioning system and CMS entitlement users could easily append existing records with custom information which created entries visible to their unique network and any user with global administration controls. This enforced a data model that was focused to showing only information tracked on a network level to users of that network while being a central global point of data collection and storage.
User Provisioning and Admin Controls
The seamless use of the application and intricacies of managing user permissions across the 22 networks was all managed in a robust administration console provided to global administrators and the central point of contact at NBC for use of the application. The administration settings and customizable field level CMS inputs, profiles, and administrator provisioning created a near infinite number of possible configurations and add ons to help to future proof the application and mitigate user attrition based on rigid architecture.
This more than year long process of requirements gathering, technology audits, and production development has resulted in nothing but longterm client and internal value. Here NBC now has a scalable solution that caters to the needs of each of it's networks and Baseline has internal value in a dedicated project pipeline into it's core flagship offering.
While I was the architect in the production launch the tool continues to grow in integration of advanced reporting functionality, diversity initiatives and analysis, and feature integrations and optimizations being scoped for continued engagement and user value.