M&E Journal: Doing it Right: What to Look for When Implementing a Rights Solution

The reality is rights management system (RMS) implementations are difficult. No matter how much you know about system implementations, enabling rights management has unique challenges. We have seen our clients encounter common hurdles within system selection, system implementation and change management.

In our experience, we have found that organizations that get ahead of the obstacles tend to have more successful implementations and transitions.

System selection

The first decision in an RMS implementation is selecting a solution. The market has evolved to the point where offering several viable software options and custom development is no longer a requirement. There are a few software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that have emerged in the M&E rights management space. All are configurable, and offer intuitive user interfaces.

Most come fully integrated with an external licensee portal, though we’ve found that these portals can be limited, and require further development by software vendors to enable an efficient, automated and integrated workflow.

The number of rights management solutions is not the only reason that selecting a system can be difficult. Gathering requirements for a new system, especially at the same time you are trying to streamline your processes, can be a daunting task with many moving parts. In our experience, a three-step methodology works well.First, understand your current state processes.

Next, know the goals for your future state processes. And finally, take the import-ant components of current state practices and map them to your future state goals to help prioritize key requirements and features that a new system must have.

Understand the current state
“If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.”
– Maya Angelou

Many companies skip this step, considering it a waste of time and money. However, we have consistently found that organizations that map their current processes, fully understand their current systems and most importantly, their current pain points, have more successful implementations and avoid repeating errors of the past. The more judgement-free genuine curiosity that goes into the current state analysis, the more the project will benefit from all that analysis has to offer.

We’ve found that the following has helped in performing a fruitful current-state analysis:

Get the key people involved and in the same room. While the ultimate goal is to implement an RMS, it’s not just about the rights team. It’s also about legal, business affairs, sales, programming, finance and operations. We recommend workshops over interviews, with representatives from each impacted business unit to reveal details that surface when teams get exposure into others’ worlds.

Understand your current process owners. Who owns processes? What are their inputs and outputs? Implementing an RMS alone, without considering how in-formation flows in and out of it, will mean that you’re not using it to its full potential. While an RMS can streamline workflows for the resources using it, a lot of its utility will come from the processes that run tangentially to it. Schedule management, product deliverable management, digital asset management, and more all have steps that could be streamlined from a tight rights management solution integration.

Understand the data and technical landscape. In order to take your RMS to its full potential, a thorough understanding of the current system landscape is needed. Where data is housed, which system is the system of record, and how it’s transferred to other systems (automatically, manually, or somewhere in between) is crucial to the implementation of the RMS. Involve system owners and technical stakeholders early to help define what that current state is so that the organization can more seamlessly move to the new future state.

Understanding your current state also has a side benefit: it starts the process of change management on the right footing.

Design future-state goals

Once the current state is understood and the pain points are documented, the future state goals will start to become clear. In our experience, it is more than making rights information accessible across the organization; it is a fundamental shift in how technology can enable your business.

Start with the industry standard. There are established standards related to rights management processes. It is helpful to have someone in the room who has an under-standing of how the best companies in the world are handling rights related processes. This can be an internal resource recently joining from a leading IP owner or a third party to facilitate the discussion. Either way, you need someone in the room who can say, “I have seen it done like this … .”

Reach across siloed processes and teams. An RMS not only provides a single source of truth for rights, but affords visibility to everyone within the workflow. If sales can run avails reporting and accurately per-form conflict checking, operations should not need to rerun these checks for each contract. Across the contract lifecycle, teams will have to communicate often to avoid in-efficient handoffs and duplication of work.

Develop a data governance frame-work starting with your product tree and rights string. Master data management, including clearly defined terms, is critical to the success of a rights implementation. The ability to conflict check and clear rights is directly impacted by the completeness and consistency of your product tree and rights string.

Establish consistent contractual rights definitions across lines of business. Does your rights team define some-thing as OTT, but your sales team groups it with SVOD? Or, do your international offices use a completely different set of definitions to capture their product types? Make it a future state goal to harmonize multiple existing definitions into one that will allow your organization to speak the same language across the enterprise.

Map practices to future-state goals

Once the current and future state processes are understood and designed respectively, and the pain points understood, the system requirements and features truly reveal themselves. The business, technology, and implementation teams are now armed with the necessary information to search for the best system of choice.

Each type of system you implement in an enterprise comes with its distinct obstacles.

We’ve seen that RMS implementations often encounter data conversion timeline issues. Everyone knows that data conversion is always the long pole in any implementation. In rights management systems, where data may be coming from evolved, home-grown legacy systems, the data sets you need may not be structured or captured consistently. For example, licensed or royalty terms could be currently stored in a text field or across multiple fields.

You’ll have to develop a plan to transform this into a structured data set for your new system.

If not addressed early on, data conversion can often become a bottleneck, resulting in delayed implementations.

Change management

Last but certainly not least is the hurdle of actually implementing the change. When you’re faced with impacting people, process and technology all at the same time, you have to begin with fixing the underlying issues, rather than just covering them up with a fancy, new system.

Engage all stakeholders early on. Current state workshops are a good place to start. When you are genuinely interested in the work people do today, it’s a non-threatening way to engage all stake-holders and get everyone to agree early on about their pain points in the current process, and naturally encourage them into welcoming change.

Identify champions. Champions are stakeholders who see the future state clearly and can lead everyone else into the future by explaining and re-explaining how the impact of the project will benefit not only the company but each department. They believe in the change; they see it in their mind and they will bring all others along.

Build ownership in the right people. You’ve identified your champions. Now em-power them to take ownership. Begin building those relationships and understanding what’s important to them. They want to know what’s in it for them, and your job is to make that really clear.

Set expectations. Be realistic about the time and effort you will need from your stakeholders, as well as the overall project timeline. Will it be five hours per week, twice a month? Or is it two to three hours per week, for the next four months?

Once you have an idea of what that number looks like, share that with them and make sure it is something they fully understand and can commit to.

Create an environment of honest and direct feedback. Feedback drives the direction of the entire implementation from gathering pain points to designing future state processes and system testing. Establishing a culture of honest and direct feedback helps ensure that all stakeholders are heard from the beginning, and in turn, invested in the outcome of the project. Do this by consistently exhibiting this yourself.

Encourage active sponsorship. Implementations with visibly active sponsorship from leadership is the single most important predictor of project success. We can’t stress enough how important it is to build that active sponsor. When leadership is bought in, positive, and actively motivating their teams, it builds momentum and provides consistent direction. To summarize, by taking into consideration those areas demanding more focus, implementing your rights management solution can be made easier.

Solution selection, system implementation and change management each have unique challenges and, with the ideas presented above, you can be sure your implementation will be done right.

* By Melinda Lu, Senior Consultant; Grace Wong, Consultant; Mark Herzog, Senior Consultant; and Kavita Anand, Senior Manager, OnPrem Solution Partners


Click here to translate this article
Click here to download the complete .PDF version of this article
Click here to download the entire Spring/Summer 2020 M&E Journal