A robust yet flexible system that manages the complex payments for talent and contributors across the entertainment industry.
ITV’s former talent payment system was written in the late 1980s. By the 2000s, it needed an urgent replacement as it was no longer fit for purpose and it struggled to support increasing transaction volumes. This urgency was compounded by the legacy system’s original developer (and only remaining expert consultant) facing imminent retirement.
Particularly pressing aspects of ITV’s challenge were the need for more efficient primary and secondary (royalty) talent payments, with a significant proportion of payments being within the scope of Equity, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and The Musicians’ Union.
ITV decided that a purpose-built Cloud-based system was required so engaged BJSS. By using Agile ways of working, the project delivered in a robust new system that handles hundreds of thousands of payments annually, seamlessly incorporating talent payment’s intrinsic complexities. BJSS was also awarded the ITV Insider Award for Excellence in Agility and Flexibility.
Handling talent payments is a significant industry-wide challenge.
ITV used the PoC to trial working with BJSS, and to ensure that it was possible to develop functionality to meet its complex business needs. ITV also used this period to test Agile working with the Talent Payments project team, who had never worked in this manner.
With a successful PoC and business needs met, next came a phased product build. Working closely with ITV’s project team and following its business requirements, BJSS built basic functionality enabling pay-out of competition and show prizes for ITV productions. This was followed by an ‘ExpressPay’ phase, for payment of short-form contracts covering guests and interviewees on shows, sports pundits and video clips. This phase saw the introduction of Bacs payments, along with self-billing invoices and VAT for those registered. Next came a ‘Bespoke’ phase covering payment of more complex celebrity contracts and ongoing engagements. The final build phase of the solution addresses Equity, writers’ and musicians’ primary and secondary payments.
This project was delivered by a team of BJSS technologists, along with dedicated ITV staff. The new application was built, tested and deployed using a continuous delivery pipeline, using Amazon Elastic Compute (EC2) virtual machines, allowing the team to use an agile approach to infrastructure definition without the traditional latency associated with on-premise hardware acquisition. The application was broken up into a series of microservices deployed on EC2 instances, allowing for each to be designed, developed and tested in isolation before integration into the full solution.
Value was added via BJSS coaching ITV’s Talent Payments project team in Agile ways of working, including being based together on-site, sharing a dedicated area of the office, hosting inclusive meetings and demonstrating process best practice. This collaborative, in-person approach was vital to achieving faster and higher-quality project delivery.
“BY WORKING AGILE WITH BJSS, WE CAN DELIVER A COMPLEX SYSTEM IN PHASES AND DEPLOY A BUG-FREE SYSTEM TO OUR PRODUCTION TEAMS”
Now, for the first time, ITV employees can enter talent payment requests with ease. Jan Hornby, Head of Department, Talent & Royalties, ITV, explains: “This new system addresses today’s talent payment requirements so well, that roll-out beyond the back-office finance department into production teams across ITV has been straightforward and well-received. BJSS’ proactive, collaborative approach has meant that we hold this project up as an example for others. The team was absolutely brilliant – so high performing. Everything our Talent Payments project team has learnt about Agile has been via BJSS. Before this project, a finance system replacement like this would have followed traditional delivery methods. By working Agile with BJSS, we can deliver a complex system in phases and deploy a bug-free system to our production teams.”
An award-winning project
Following the successful delivery of this project, BJSS was awarded the ITV Insider Award for Excellence in Agility and Flexibility.