January 15, 2024

A Leap in Production Accounting: Liz Blunnie Shares Wrapbook’s Latest

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Welcome to on production, the podcast that brings you the inside stories of the innovators and leaders in film and entertainment production, presented by Wrapbook. Today we're joined by Liz Blunnie, a pivotal force in shaping the landscape of film production accounting. Liz played an instrumental role in developing the new Wrapbook production accounting solution, a platform that we hope is redefining efficiency and functionality in this crucial area. But what's especially interesting is that Liz has a rich background and deep expertise in production accounting solutions. Liz's insights are invaluable to understanding what's on the market day where it can improve and why Wrapbook's solution stands out. We'll dive into her journey, her perspective on the industry and what makes the rapid platform a game changer from her perspectives. Liz, it's fantastic to have you with us. Thanks for being here. And welcome to On Production


Thanks, Cameron. It's my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.


Yeah, my pleasure. I always love when I'm able to highlight the experts that I get to work with day in and day out. It's awesome. But let's just start off with your background and expertise. I mean, can you share with us your journey and production accounting, it's kind of a unique thing that this is where your career led you what what drew you to this field,


It's actually kind of strange. So after going to college a little later in life, I was working with this great team at DiVita University. And one of the lads on the team said, Hey, we're hiring, swing me your resume. And that started my journey in this career field, at Cast and Crew in customer support. And so, after spending several years of cast and crew working on from PSL, for Windows through PSL 3, I then made a hop over to CAPS universal. And there we develop the CPASS accounting software. And then eventually, I went to EP for a few years and worked on plastic Vista, global Vista smart accounting. And then Wrapbook came knocking on my door and here I am.


And so for the listeners who are maybe not production accountants, can you explain what some of these letters that you're throwing around stand for?


Let's see in PSL for Windows is Production Software and Language, I think it was called, it was just an acronym. And that's the Cast and Crew’s production accounting software. Then C Pass that was just we made an acronym with CAPS for the C Pass the CAPS production accounting software. And then at Entertainment partners EP. That's where I worked on classic VISTA, the Global Vista, smart accounting, which everything gets shot into an acronym and in this industry. So


that's super interesting. You've had kind of a broad view, and hands on experience with all different kinds of production accounting solutions. I'm curious what have been some of the key changes or advancements in production accounting solutions that you've witnessed over your career.


Finally, you know, production accounting is starting to go digital. And you know, which is a big leap, getting away from all of the paper stacks of paper, you go into production app, counting up, as you've got the POS, you've got the invoices, then the check copies, gets back to it, all the reports. So it's always been a lot of paperwork. And so we're finally now moving away from that we don't have to store a bunch of data in Iron Mountain anymore, it can all be stored digitally, and it's easily accessible. So that's a big leap. You're also seeing a lot of the production accounting community kind of working together to streamline and normalize solution. So everybody, you know, when you go from one studio or one company, you can see a lot of similarities between the way the processes work, and what they're expecting to see. So which is you know, great opens the door for us, because with technology. And we're bringing in a lot of these technological solutions to make it so much easier for everybody. Everything's in one place at the touch of a button.


That's great pivoting just slightly. I mean, from your experience over the years of working with these different types of solutions, adding to the solutions, in this case at Wrapbook building a new solution. What are some of the common challenges production accountants face with the current solutions on the market? And I asked this question under the context that on production listeners are from all over the industry from commercial, live events, and film all over the place. So just from the perspective of maybe articulating this, for folks that maybe are not familiar with production, accounting, and then all the way through to folks that maybe they really will understand these pain points themselves directly. Yeah, just any thoughts you have on kind of common challenges.


One of the most common challenges is payroll was one system, production accounting, or any accounting is a separate system, you don't even have the cohesiveness between two systems, you're sending data from one system into another system, which inherently brings its challenges because things go wrong, when you're transferring things through a third party solution or through networking, things do go wrong, data goes awry. And then the users on whack with going, you know, was my payroll invoice, why didn't it load? Why am I not seeing anything? Why am I seeing all these errors? So you know, that's one of the things we're working on is to have it, it's all one solution. So payroll goes directly from payroll into the accounting system, it's one software. And the same with other processes. So if I'm doing my POs, POs will always a very, very paper driven process. So I get my purchase order, it's a piece of paper, and then you take it over to Person Number one, they sign off on it and approve it, then it's gonna go to person number two, they sign off on an approve on it, you go through the system, it maybe goes through five people, and you go and sneak a mail all the way around. So then, what now if somebody says, This isn't quite right, you need to make a change. Back to the drawing board start again, it goes through the whole process. So by making it digital too, you can send it out touch of a button, somebody gets notified, here's your purchase order, they can approve it, they can suggest the changes, it goes back, it's much smoother process and doesn't get lost on Route somewhere doesn't get left on somebody's desk, it just seamlessly gets from point A to point B and again, into the accounting software, cutting down on time and energy.


That's fantastic. I mean, you have this kind of deep expertise of problems and pain points that folks have felt, and knowing what you knew, and knowing what you know, and brought to wrap up. I'm curious, you know, what were the kind of essential features or capabilities that a robust production accounting solution should have in 2023, it


just, you know, going from one area to the other and keep making changes. And then one of the things I had seen a lot of was, with systems being separated, somebody goes in and they set up the payroll system. And that's all good. Now, payroll starts to flow in the accounting software has been set up with a completely different set of criteria. So now you have no correlation between what's coming from payroll to what's in the accounting software. So who's going to go back and change it, which system needs to be updated? Where did that disconnect fail? You know, if if you've planned out in the end, the accounting project is set up correctly from the start. Everything should map payroll, accounting, purchase orders, everything is mapped correctly, so you don't end up with this division in the data. And again, error handling and then taking time to find out where it went wrong. And fix it, which isn't always a simple solution. You may have somebody says, the chart of accounts, we're going to use a straightforward then somebody says, and we're going to use a straightforward with sub accounts. So that's maybe like, you know, 1011-01. To put it into context, then somebody else comes back and says, yeah, no, we're going to change it. Again, this all requires somebody to go in and be making these data changes, which you should have because you shouldn't have to be changed in the clients data. It should be set up from day one correctly. So otherwise, if it's not set up, you're forcing that client to wait while you're making a data repair. And I've seen times when those data repairs. take weeks to fix.


Liz you know you have such a clear vision through your experience of what needs to be done to improve these systems. What inspired you to join Wrapbook and really become a lead in the development of a new production accounting platform.


I've seen all these pain points over the years. And from every system that I'd worked with, it was the same pain points across the board, always the same issues. And it would always be, it's on the roadmap, we're going to fix it, it's on the roadmap, we'll get it fixed. And then it's always chopping and changing. While you know, this is a higher priority. So everything gets dropped, you know, hearing a person say, they don't want to look at a different software even because they know the workarounds to get their work done. No user should have to rely on workarounds to get through their workday. And that's a huge pain point. So to be able to start fresh from the bottom, remove all these pain points, and simplify the accounting process for the users. Economic be a win win situation, the time


of us recording this, it's November 22 2023. Wrapbook has just released its very early version of production accounting, we have a long roadmap ahead to build functionality and feature sets for ever more complex productions. However, the solution does work and people like it. But I'm curious, like even was such an early feature set at Wrapbooke, can you walk us through kind of the key features that you all laid the groundwork and foundation for for the Wrapbook production accounting solution and how you feel like it addresses industry needs,


one of the biggest ones is payroll, and accounting. It's all one system, you're not going into a payroll system and then sending the data over to a separate accounting system. It's all in one, if you want to look at your payroll reports, you don't have to wait 24 hours for the data to be updated within the system. It's all that touch of a button immediately. Plus, the user has more control over their payroll process. It's very user driven. So clients can come in, they can go through their payroll, they can validate that payroll, push the button and not be going, you know, those that afternoon was my payroll, I have people to pay was my payroll, they've already walked through that process. And they're on top of it throughout the system throughout the timeline. And they're working with wrap up to ensure that everything is set up and out and everybody is paid.


That's really cool. I mean, for the more production accounting, efficient and astute among our listeners, are there any features in the existing solution, not just the integration of payroll and accounting so tightly together, but are there any little surprises or delightful features that that you kind of feel are great for kind of this first, this first iteration,


I really liked the way we integrated with cache pay. Cache pay is becoming an integral part of production accounting, with their processes, for working with production accountants to getting vendor payments process, we've taken out some of the more manual steps in the process that you'll see with other systems. And again, everything is automated to get the information, you process your payment, you send it to cache, to get that information back from cache as to when it was paid, how it was paid, what the transaction numbers are, etc. The system automatically checks and brings that data back in and update your system you're not having to go in and go okay, I need to go into bank reconciliation saying click a button or I need to go run a report to force that data into the system. So that's a huge improvement, purchase orders. I love the way way integrating purchase orders. And again, it's all within the same system. You don't have to go log into a separate system to review your purchase orders and send them in to wrap up than that. And the approval process will be there with all within one area for the production accounting side. We're working on streamlining vendor maintenance, so that will make it easier bank reconciliation, all of the standards that have their issues in other systems that make it not a little jerky to use or you know, I guess that people saying I know my walker rounds. So I'll just continue working around with getting rid of all the workarounds,


we're creating work throughs instead of workarounds,


exactly. To hear the word work around, you know, you don't want to hear clients saying, all right, I gotta walk around. We don't want workarounds. We want a process that flows smoothly from point A to point B.


I'm curious, looking forward, how do you see production accounting evolving in the near future? And what role do you envision for technology, Wrapbook technology in this evolution,


this technology will be a big driver to it. But it's putting production accounting into the hands of the production account, where they control more of their processes themselves, rather than relying on a company to handle those processes for them. They don't have to call in and say, I need to do this, that give them the tools from the onset to be able to do those things themselves. If they don't have to be calling in and relying on somebody else to do things for them. Their workflow gets a lot smoother throughout the day, that's awesome.


Are there any upcoming features or developments in the Wrapbook, production accounting platform that you yourself are particularly excited about?


All of it. I mean, it's it's such it's been such an exciting project to be involved in from the ground up. I'm think one of one of the big items coming out is the ability to have crew go in and fill out the purchase orders and stuff, the PIO approval. And then it goes through, we have the integrations with some of the corporate systems. I've enjoyed working and getting those set up. And so we're allowing the data to flow through to the corporate systems, again, without a lot of user interaction. Once you get to this point and a process flow, it just carries on and does the rest of it for you.


I'm curious, Liz, just some advice and insights for someone new to production accounting, or for someone looking to transition to a more efficient system? What advice would you get?


I would tell them come come check it out. See how easy it is. It's all such ease of use, because, again, we set it up, you work through it. And the guidelines are there. So in other systems, you kind of log in and you go, Okay, well, what do I do now? How do I do this? We're working on taking those questions out of the way too. We're adding the hints and the tips and making it also in into a language that's easier for newcomers to understand. So you, you're not stuck with old terminology. That, you know, if you don't have a degree in accounting, or you've not been involved in it so much before, you can still come in and pick it out with the guidelines that are there in place.


That's amazing. Well, Liz, thank you so much for being on On Production, sharing a bit of your history, your background in building these solutions. Thank you so much for your leadership and helping to develop this amazing solution. I really appreciate your time and hope our listeners were able to learn something I know that I did. Thanks,


Cameron. And again, thank you for giving me the opportunity and for being a part of this product. I love it. Thank you. You bet.

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