Yesplan: the Combell cloud as an efficient solution to our specific needs
Cultural centres also want to work more efficiently, and the ERP software Yesplan helps them achieve their digital automation goals. Yesplan chose Combell to host its software platform. Wouter Vermeylen and Johan Brichau from Yesplan explain why.
Yesplan: automated back office for cultural centres
Yesplan is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP system that is specifically used in a particular sector, i.e. culture. The software platform was originally created for the Vooruit in Ghent, as a means of automating the back office of this cultural centre. But since then, it has grown into a platform that can be found in 9 European countries, where 250 theatres and pop venues are now using Yesplan.
Wouter Vermeylen, Managing Director: "We ensure that the back office of cultural centres, including theatres, pop venues and festivals such as the Vooruit, is fully automated. The Vooruit, for example, has a staff of 91, thanks to which it organises an average of 720 events per year, including performances, concerts and debates, which are held in five different halls. All this is planned and managed using Yesplan."
The app makes it easier to plan and organise events, and also makes it possible to allocate the required resources to the right place or to deploy staff when and where they are needed. The accounting section provides a clear overview of all income and expenses – which is also a necessity when it comes to cultural events.
Wouter Vermeylen: “Literally everything is planned in Yesplan. There, the staff will find all the events, so that they are always up to date, even in the case of last minute changes. But the artist also uses Yesplan, which allows him to know which dressing room he can use, and to specify which drinks should be prepared for him, for example.”
Yesplan makes it possible for users to collect all information in one central place. Thanks to the clear roadmap, a detailed overview of the schedule is always available. In short, Yesplan ensures that the workflow is streamlined.
According to Wouter, there are two features that make Yesplan stand out from similar applications developed by competitors. The first is the fact that the app originated from the cultural sector, from the Vooruit. Even now, many collaborators come from this sector or have a strong affinity with it. They understand very well the issues that organisations and their staff are facing in their day-to-day work. Yesplan therefore continuously integrates this feedback into its updates.
A second factor is the unlimited number of users. Wouter: “Yesplan can only work if everyone is using the software. Traditional software companies charge a certain fee per user, while we charge a fee for the entire organisation. This means that the organisation has plenty of licenses, so that everyone can use Yesplan.”
Yesplan also features an API, so that external developers can further develop the software in order to be able to integrate it into their ticket sales software, for example. A single click on a button will then reveal the current status of ticket sales. A link to the cultural centre's own website is also possible, so that the basic information about an event can be transferred directly from Yesplan to the website's CMS.
"We develop Yesplan entirely in-house, which means it is custom development. Our needs are therefore very specific"
A specific sector with specific needs
Yesplan is a 100% SaaS application, which means that the platform runs entirely in the cloud, on Combell's infrastructure. Johan Brichau, CTO of Yesplan, explains why: "We develop Yesplan entirely in-house, which means it is custom development. Our needs are therefore very specific – we cannot rely on any third-party specifications. And that is precisely where Combell has supported us from the outset, in our search for the right configuration for our servers."
The specific features that make Yesplan unique also entail specific requirements. The number of users of the application is almost unlimited, which requires great scalability. And since shows are often held in different locations, collaborators must be able to work from anywhere. Combell's cloud platform meets all these requirements.
Johan Brichau: "We joined Combell in 2011, when we were just a tiny start-up looking for a reliable hosting partner. What we were most interested in was actually having a partner that was very close to us, so that they could provide us with expert advice on our infrastructure, allowing us to focus on the development of our application."
Yesplan has of course been in contact with several partners during the start-up period. Johan was, however, impressed by Combell's advanced proposition. “Combell was already using SSDs in 2011. This means it was able to offer a high-performance hosting platform with automatic failover when a host fails. And that is what made the difference, because uptime is crucial for us.”
Yesplan currently runs on a VMware platform, which comprises more than 20 different virtual machines. This platform must be able to handle the 10,000 users, of whom an average of 2,000 use the application platform simultaneously. And the database with more than 3.5 million different events must be available promptly, 24/7.
Johan gives a practical example. “End users should always be able to access the events database very quickly. If, for instance, they have someone on the line who wants to organise an event, they must be able to quickly browse the entire database to see which time slots are still available. And in the evening, if something goes wrong while the event is taking place, information about the people that need to be contacted, for example, should be available immediately. Uptime and performance are both of paramount importance.”
"Combell's 99.99% uptime guarantee is therefore absolutely crucial to us."
Combell is part of our team
In addition to providing the software, Yesplan also ensures its implementation. This sometimes requires adjustments to the customer's infrastructure. But Combell is there to help in this process as well, as Johan explains: "What makes Combell unique for us is the fact that the people who manage the servers can be reached directly. One could even say that they are part of our team. We can always talk to them when we are faced with specific issues or challenges, so that we can come up with a solution."
According to Wouter Vermeylen, uptime is also extremely important: "Today, many organisations are using Yesplan. There are now 250 in all of Western Europe, representing 10,000 end users. They organise events 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Combell's 99.99% uptime guarantee is therefore absolutely crucial to us."
International expansion plans
With Combell as a reliable hosting partner, Yesplan's future is looking bright. In the early years (2011-2016), Yesplan concentrated mainly on Flanders and the Netherlands, in order to become a market leader in those areas. Wouter explains why the start-up years were so important: “Our main concern was to make sure that the product, which is quite complex after all, was perfect in every way. And to prove that we had a great product, with which the customer is satisfied, before making it available to other areas.”
In 2016, Yesplan started expanding its business abroad and established offices in The Hague, London and Oslo, thereby covering 12 European regions. The next phase will start in 2020: after proving that it can be a ‘global player’ in Europe, the company will prepare for expansion in the US, Canada and the rest of the world.
And Yesplan is relying on Combell for this as well: “Due to our geographical expansion across Europe and potentially the whole world, the number of customers is growing very fast. This means we also need to be able to set up new servers as quickly as possible, which is definitely possible via Combell's cloud platform.”
"What makes Combell unique for us is the fact that the people who manage the servers can be reached directly. One could even say that they are part of our team."
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