SoundBuzz (SB) PA Systems
SoundBuzz (SB) is a worker cooperative group, which has been operating in Manchester for ten years. It began when two music students graduated from college and got together with a few more friends to start the group. They provide Public Address systems, mixing consoles, amplifiers, microphones and other equipment for inside and outside events. There are now ten members of the SB group, which is made up of sound engineers and musicians. The group provides a reliable service for events in the UK, they guarantee that the PA systems will be set-up, sound checked and controlled by a qualified sound engineer for the duration of the event. This is a specialised area of technical work and as the majority of staff are performers themselves, they take great pride in providing this professional service.
The original idea for this enterprise came from Elsie Black who now manages the SB office. They have a couple of desktop computers and utilise a business website, a rather basic database of client information, business email, a number of electronic documents, a couple of spreadsheets, and a shared online calendar which displays all the event bookings. Apart from that, each technician has a mobile phone which receives; phone messages, text messages, emails and alerts from the office. Elsie and her assistant take responsibility for everything that falls under the remit of the office, which includes; all event bookings and associated documentation, marketing of services, payment of salaries, etc.
For some time, the group have discussed opportunities to develop the business, and they are all committed to taking on new challenges. They feel they are well placed to take on the new opportunities that have been brought about by the growing number of events taking place in the North West and around the UK. Telephone enquires about the services they provide have double in the past year and bookings are increasing fast. Therefore, the SB group believe it is time to update the office systems to cope with the growing demands of their business. They have discussed the possibility of Customer Relationship Management software and Enterprise Resource Planning software. However, they need professional help before they can make a final decision. They are also interested in the possibility of utilising Open Source software, but require information on the advantages and disadvantages.
Growing the business will mean significant changes for SB and there are some concerns that using business information technology for communications might change the close working relationships which exist between the sound engineers and the office staff. While everyone accepts that some changes are necessary, there is some apprehension about the impact on roles. As SB is a worker cooperative, everyone has an equal vote on how these changes will be made. Therefore, they require a report that can be read and understood by all members of the group (technical and non-technical group members).