Recently, some of the exceptionally bright people who work at Jumpstart started referring to our office as a general management office of the future or, more fittingly, #GMoftheFuture. Our staff takes pride in the innovations and tools we have put in place to share information, collaborate and work as a team.
Here at Jumpstart, we don’t embrace new tools simply because they are shiny and new, but rather because they help us help our clients put on the most exceptional theatrical productions. Below is a sampling of some of the tools we are currently using.
Slack – Internal Communications
Built for internal communications, Slack lets us chat, collaborate and problem solve without the trappings of email. Inside Slack, we set up channels for each of our productions. This keeps conversations focused but also encourages transparency as everyone at Jumpstart can see and contribute to all of the discussions we are having.
A lot of theater work happens remotely. Our office is in Times Square, but we have Company Managers at rehearsals and performances all over NYC and on tour around the United States. Being on Slack allows us to chat with one another as if we’re in the same room.
Wunderlist – Shared Task List and Project Management
Opening a Broadway show involves accomplishing many little tasks to complete one bigger task. An actor’s contract, for example, must be drafted, reviewed by an agent, approved, signed in quintuplicate and then, when fully executed, sent back to the agent, to Actors’ Equity and filed away for our records.
Wunderlist allows us to coordinate all of the little subtasks to finish a bigger task, assign tasks to certain members of our team so we know who is responsible for getting something done, set due dates and, most critically, know when a task has been completed.
Evernote – Shared Notes
There’s a lot of information that flows through a general management office that’s not always suitable for a Word or Excel document. Sometimes it’s just little bits of Post-It sized nuggets that everyone on our team needs to be able to call up at a moment’s notice without actually turning our workspaces into museum collections of Post-It notes.
When a new show is fundraising, for instance, we’ll often get emails asking for the bank’s wire transfer instructions. We’ll keep something like this in Evernote so everyone can simply grab the bank info and copy and paste it into a reply.
Like Slack and Wunderlist, Evernote has an iPhone and iPad app so we can call up our collected notes even when working remotely.
QuickBooks Online – Multi-User Accounting
From cutting checks and tracking expenses to preparing financial statements, Quickbooks has been an essential software tool in GM offices for over two decades.
A new Online version allows everyone in our office to access our accounts from any computer, iPad or iPhone, enter transactions and run up-to-the-minute reports.
This has been especially useful on our touring shows. Now our Company Managers can record box office settlements as they happen and we can view those in real-time back in New York.
Dropbox - File Sharing
When I first started in this business the idea of sharing and collaborating on files was the stuff of fairy tales. Large corporations and law firms had shared servers, but that kind of technology was out of reach for most theatrical firms.
Sometime around 2005 we installed our first server. Finally, we could all work on and share the same set of files. But while the server worked well when we were in the office, it was painfully slow to use remotely.
Dropbox has changed all of that. By hosting our files on Dropbox we can effectively work from anywhere and our Company Managers in Chicago or Los Angeles can access and save files as if they were here in New York.
iPad and iPhone versions of Dropbox allow us to access files while we’re making the rounds backstage at one of our theaters.
Squarespace – Website Creation and Hosting
As Broadway and Off-Broadway shows increasingly rely on new platforms to reach audiences, so must the people who manage them. It’s not merely enough for a General Manager to hand-off knowledge of social media to the advertising experts. A General Manager today must be well reversed in platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat and be able to adapt to the next new app that has the power to reach theatrical audiences.
At Jumpstart we have pages set up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. But our website is still a powerful platform for us, and we want the ability to shape and mold our web content as quickly as we can compose a tweet.
Not long ago, simply adding a logo for a new show would have meant paying an outside developer $250 an hour to upload a photo for us. But with Squarespace we are in full control over our website, and their simple drag-and-drop tools make it easy for anyone in our office to modify our site.
As much as we rely on new tools and technology, at the end of the day it’s all about the amazing individuals who make up our team at Jumpstart and the innovative producers we partner with. Theater is about the connections we have with one another, and while these tools help us work smarter and more efficiently, nothing will ever top the experience of sitting across the table from a producer and strategizing about a new thrilling production.