Black Rock City: Team Collaboration Tools

In 2013, we rolled out a set of Team Tools for volunteer intake, team management and scheduling. In the process, we modernized systems that had been in place for a decade without any enhancements or upgrades. With involvement from every department, the Volunteer Questionnaire was updated to include a new intake form that is integrated with Burner Profiles and utilizes the same technology as the other Participation Forms. By the Fall of 2013, over 4,000 Burners had completed the new Volunteer Questionnaire.

We implemented Shiftboard, a hosted scheduling and team management solution that addresses the challenge faced by volunteer coordinators to manage thousands of volunteers and tens of thousands of volunteer shifts. Shiftboard adds the key feature of self-managed schedules for staff and volunteers, and eliminated a dependency on a previous FileMaker system for roster management. Integration with the Volunteer Questionnaire provides volunteers with a centralized resource to track their record of on-playa participation. The 11 teams who used Shiftboard for shift scheduling in 2013 found it to be a substantial improvement over other tools, freeing them from spreadsheets and enabling them to better allocate their time. Goals for the future include encouraging adoption across more teams and making additional enhancements to the volunteer sign up process.

Many of our staff requested more training on our internal collaboration systems. In response, we designed and implemented a curriculum that was offered during business hours and at night, mostly on weekdays, with some weekends available. We also hosted drop-in sessions every other month to provide help with specific topics. This year, we will be examining methods to improve attendance and ensure that the benefit of these systems will be fully realized. Options may include offering on-demand sessions through a learning portal planned for 2014.

Mantis continues to be utilized for reporting of engineering issues, and was expanded to include Facilities, enhancing their ability to track and close issues with greater efficiency. Mantis was also analyzed for use with Ranger and ESD operations.

Burning Man Project: Community Relationship Management
Activity at the non profit Burning Man Project has expanded this year, along with the tools we support to engage and manage community relationships. Work has begun to migrate stand-alone databases to the centralized, scalable, web-based tool to manage community relationships based on the Salesforce platform. This is a slow and tedious process, as considerable effort must be made to clean and normalize historical data.

This year, we added functionality for event management, began leveraging workflow automation, and also hired a manager for business processes. We starting migrating paper-based or email-based processes to Salesforce as a way to provide shared visibility and to provide better tools for managing communication. As the user base for this system increases, we continue to efforts to make them easier to use and more mobile-friendly. The organization has also leveraged its fundraising and communication tools in support of its first subsidiary, Burners Without Borders. We will continue to look at how to efficiently and effectively leverage the technology in place to support additional subsidiaries and activities. We are also supporting fundraising efforts to help cover the costs of the technology needed during this time of expansion.

Submitted by,

Ian Starr, Brian Forsyth, Sherri Clearlake, Christopher Johnson