CASE STUDY

Large Event Management: Maker Faire & Shiftboard

Reducing time spent managing event scheduling by 70% with Shiftboard’s SaaS solution.

Maker Faire

SHIFTBOARD STATS

  • Maker Faire Operations
    • Cutting event management and scheduling admin time by 70%
    • Reducing time spent on legal compliance processes by 50%
    • Helping organizers manage more than 560% growth in under 10 years
    • Centralizing event staff & vendor coordination & communication
  • Maker Faire on Site
    • 2 flagship events:
      • Maker Faire Bay Area: 1,300+ exhibitions & sponsors; 145,000+ attendees
      • World Maker Faire New York: 1,000+ exhibitions & sponsors; 90,000+ attendees
    • Coordinating 4,000+ worker hours and communication equipment over 2 weeks
    • Filling the 950 shifts needed to put on 2 events
    • Managing meals, hotels, & transportation for 450+ staff & vendors across 2 events
    • Organizing 2,300+ exhibitions and sponsors

The Challenge

To those who’ve never attended a Maker Faire, the events are hard to fully describe. Billed as “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new,” the event has built an enthusiastic following. But to truly understand this allure, you really need to experience The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth for yourself.

The festival represents an intersection of ideas, invention, and inspiration. The boundaries of discovery, creativity, and resourcefulness are constantly pushed. This provides a platform to recognize many innovators from all kinds of backgrounds, who often go unnoticed. Mix in a family-friendly atmosphere, and you have a celebration of imagination for curious minds of all ages.

Given this broad appeal, it’s no wonder the event gained momentum so quickly. Initially drawing 22,000 attendees in 2006, Maker Faire Bay Area has grown to attract 145,000+ annually. And they’ve added a New York event that hosts 90,000+ each year as well.

So in about 10 years, they grew one event 560% while adding another large event, to easily attract a grand total of 235,000+ visitors per year combined. That’s a pretty good decade. However, as interest in their unconventional festivals mounted leading up to Maker Faire’s 10th anniversary, organizers encountered some conventional management challenges.

The Challenge

To those who’ve never attended a Maker Faire, the events are hard to fully describe.

Billed as “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new,” the event has built an enthusiastic following. But to truly understand this allure, you really need to experience The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth for yourself.

The festival represents an intersection of ideas, invention, and inspiration. The boundaries of discovery, creativity, and resourcefulness are constantly pushed.

This provides a platform to recognize many innovators from all kinds of backgrounds, who often go unnoticed. Mix in a family-friendly atmosphere, and you have a celebration of imagination for curious minds of all ages.

Maker Faire Program

Given this broad appeal, it’s no wonder the event gained momentum so quickly. Initially drawing 22,000 attendees in 2006, Maker Faire Bay Area has grown to attract 145,000+ annually. And they’ve added a New York event that hosts 90,000+ each year as well.

So in about 10 years, they grew one event 560% while adding another large event, to easily attract a grand total of 235,000+ visitors per year combined.

That’s a pretty good decade. However, as interest in their unconventional festivals mounted leading up to Maker Faire’s 10th anniversary, organizers encountered some conventional management challenges.

An Ambitious Pursuit

It turns out that orchestrating organic event growth on this scale requires a massive amount of strategic planning, coordination, data analysis, and communication. As popularity took off, effectively managing event production, costs, and logistics – while keeping pace with expansion – became very hard, very fast.

Visibility into vital aspects of their operations, such as budgeting and scheduling, became more important than ever.

However, difficulty interpreting the massive amounts of data flying in from every direction threatened to overwhelm Maker Faire coordinators. Their ability to make fully informed business decisions was in jeopardy.

Before they knew it, straightforward event management evolved into a web of extremely complicated processes.

Unsurprisingly, relying on email chains, phone calls, and – in some cases – even verbal agreements only contributed to their operational complexity.

Simply confirming how many people had arrived on site, who was where, and how many they were expecting was a dauntingly tall order.

It was clear they needed help, so organizers turned to technology to relieve their operational growing pains.

An Ambitious Pursuit

It turns out that orchestrating organic event growth on this scale requires a massive amount of strategic planning, coordination, data analysis, and communication.

As popularity took off, effectively managing event production, costs, and logistics – while keeping pace with expansion – became very hard, very fast.

Visibility into vital aspects of their operations, such as budgeting and scheduling, became more important than ever.

However, difficulty interpreting the massive amounts of data flying in from every direction threatened to overwhelm Maker Faire coordinators. Their ability to make fully informed business decisions was in jeopardy.

Maker Faire Bay Area Signage

Before they knew it, straightforward event management evolved into a web of extremely complicated processes.

Unsurprisingly, relying on email chains, phone calls, and – in some cases – even verbal agreements only contributed to their operational complexity.

Simply confirming how many people had arrived on site, who was where, and how many they were expecting was a dauntingly tall order.

It was clear they needed help, so organizers turned to technology to relieve their operational growing pains.

Technology Basics

Initially, Maker Faire deployed out-of-the-box event scheduling software in their attempt at catching up to their rapidly expanding operation. However, the tool proved too limited to keep pace.

Managers wrestled with clunky spreadsheets and inadequate shift scheduling capabilities. A lack of mobile access severely limited on-the-go coordination. Meanwhile, budgets, staffing, and logistics grew increasingly complex at breakneck speed. Before long, it was obvious that the demands of making Maker Faire had overwhelmed the basic staffing tool.

Maker Faire needed a solution that was up to the colossal task at hand.

Technology Basics

Initially, Maker Faire deployed out-of-the-box event scheduling software in their attempt at catching up to their rapidly expanding operation. However, the tool proved too limited to keep pace.

Managers wrestled with clunky spreadsheets and inadequate shift scheduling capabilities. A lack of mobile access severely limited on-the-go coordination.

Meanwhile, budgets, staffing, and logistics grew increasingly complex at breakneck speed. Before long, it was obvious that the demands of making Maker Faire had overwhelmed the basic staffing tool.

Maker Faire needed a solution that was up to the colossal task at hand.

A Big Picture Solution

Facing sharply escalating popularity, organizers launched an exhaustive search for a new scheduling and event management solution. One with the dynamic functionality required to match the complicated and evolving demands of their event.

To meet such high standards, Maker Faire targeted the criteria most important to them:

  • Sophisticated scheduling capabilities to get the right people on site every time
  • A powerful command center to manage a host of complex processes in one place
  • Configurable reporting to tailor data analysis and provide deep operational insights

That’s how they found Shiftboard.

“Shiftboard’s Dynamic Scheduling System changed everything for us. It’s advanced features and adaptability were able to show us the big picture, allowing us to efficiently manage our growth,” said Kerry Moore, Maker Faire Project Manager. “We were up and running in no time, and the difference was night and day.”

Finally, Maker Faire had the organizational capacity to streamline processes and sharpen operational visibility. Which, in turn, gave them the agility to respond quickly to any curveballs their rapid growth might produce.

Highlights include:

“Shiftboard’s Dynamic Scheduling System changed everything for us. It’s advanced features and adaptability were able to show us the big picture, allowing us to efficiently manage our growth. We were up and running in no time, and the difference was night and day.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

A Big Picture Solution

 

“Shiftboard’s Dynamic Scheduling System changed everything for us. It’s advanced features and adaptability were able to show us the big picture, allowing us to efficiently manage our growth. We were up and running in no time, and the difference was night and day.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

Facing sharply escalating popularity, organizers launched an exhaustive search for a new scheduling and event management solution. One with the dynamic functionality required to match the complicated and evolving demands of their event.

To meet such high standards, Maker Faire targeted the criteria most important to them:

  • Sophisticated scheduling capabilities to get the right people on site every time
  • A powerful command center to manage a host of complex processes in one place
  • Configurable reporting to tailor data analysis and provide deep operational insights

That’s how they found Shiftboard.

Maker Faire Site Setup Overview

“Shiftboard’s Dynamic Scheduling System changed everything for us. It’s advanced features and adaptability were able to show us the big picture, allowing us to efficiently manage our growth,” said Kerry Moore, Maker Faire Project Manager. “We were up and running in no time, and the difference was night and day.”

Finally, Maker Faire had the organizational capacity to streamline processes and sharpen operational visibility. Which, in turn, gave them the agility to respond quickly to any curveballs their rapid growth might produce. Highlights include:

Highlights include:

Quick, Accurate, Staffing

In short order, it was evident that Maker Faire made the right decision. Finally, a solution both structured and nimble enough to meet their event management, reporting, and reimbursement requirements. And the first indication they made the right choice came from organizing event workers.

Filling the 950 shifts required to put on two Maker Faires sounds hard enough. But that’s only the beginning. They require several different classifications of people – including staff, vendors, and crew – at various, specific times from setup, to event weekend, through takedown.

By organizing all their people info into one database, Shiftboard helped Maker Faire streamline this grueling process. Reducing the time needed to fill event shifts from weeks to a matter of days.

“We’re able to manage scheduling more effectively, and in about half the time it took previously,” Moore pointed out. “And Shiftboard has changed the way we approach certain tasks, saving us time in so many ways. Before we had their scheduling tool we relied on a spreadsheet. Now we can upload 200 shifts to the calendar in about 4 hours, putting us 2 weeks ahead of where we’d be doing it manually.”

Quick, Accurate, Staffing

In short order, it was evident that Maker Faire made the right decision. Finally, a solution both structured and nimble enough to meet their event management, reporting, and reimbursement requirements.

And the first indication they made the right choice came from organizing event workers.

Filling the 950 shifts required to put on two Maker Faires sounds hard enough. But that’s only the beginning. They require several different classifications of people – including staff, vendors, and crew – at various, specific times from setup, to event weekend, through

They require several different classifications of people – including staff, vendors, and crew – at various, specific times from setup, to event weekend, through takedown.

By organizing all their people info into one database, Shiftboard helped Maker Faire streamline this grueling process. Reducing the time needed to fill event shifts from weeks to a matter of days.

“We’re able to manage scheduling more effectively, and in about half the time it took previously,” Moore pointed out. “And Shiftboard has changed the way we approach certain tasks, saving us time in so many ways. Before we had their scheduling tool we relied on a spreadsheet. Now we can upload 200 shifts to the calendar in about 4 hours, putting us 2 weeks ahead of where we’d be doing it manually.”

Centralized Visibility

Cutting time spent managing shifts by more than 93% opened up a lot of time to focus on other areas of their organization. But to really make the most of that time, Maker Faire needed to know exactly what’s going on throughout their operation.

“We have several different levels of crew members that come in over an extended period of time. And not just staff, but vendor and other people who we need to orchestrate. At the same time, we had a lot of different managers managing these different components in their own spreadsheets and systems. And we really needed to consolidate it all into one place,” Moore explained.

 

“Shiftboard has fundamentally changed the way we work. Instead of managing different aspects of our operation in a bunch of disconnected spreadsheets, we now have a command center that allows all managers to coordinate from the same place.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

All these disconnected efforts scrambled the big picture, making oversight and coordination needlessly difficult.

Through Shiftboard, Maker Faire had the features to break down those barriers and synchronize efforts. Now, working together with the same big picture overview, they are able to coordinate more effectively.

“Shiftboard has fundamentally changed the way we work,” Moore noted.”Instead of managing different aspects of our operation in a bunch of disconnected spreadsheets, we now have a command center that allows all managers to coordinate from the same place.”

Centralized Visibility

 

“Shiftboard has fundamentally changed the way we work. Instead of managing different aspects of our operation in a bunch of disconnected spreadsheets, we now have a command center that allows all managers to coordinate from the same place.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

Cutting time spent managing shifts by more than 93% opened up a lot of time to focus on other areas of their organization.

But to really make the most of that time, Maker Faire needed to know exactly what’s going on throughout their operation.

“We have several different levels of crew members that come in over an extended period of time. And not just staff, but vendor and other people who we need to orchestrate. At the same time, we had a lot of different managers managing these different components in their own spreadsheets and systems. And we really needed to consolidate it all into one place,” Moore explained.

Getting in to Maker Faire

All these disconnected efforts scrambled the big picture, making oversight and coordination needlessly difficult.

Through Shiftboard, Maker Faire had the features to break down those barriers and synchronize efforts. Now, working together with the same big picture overview, they are able to coordinate more effectively.

“Shiftboard has fundamentally changed the way we work,” Moore noted.”Instead of managing different aspects of our operation in a bunch of disconnected spreadsheets, we now have a command center that allows all managers to coordinate from the same place.”

Data Clarity

Efficiently categorizing and analyzing operational data was another high priority. As Maker Faire’s following expanded, filtering information grew hopelessly complicated. Getting the right updates to the right people became a real problem.

Event details like schedules, transportation, and meals were all managed and confirmed through various channels. Just cross-referencing the flood of email threads, voicemails, and various messages took considerable time. The whole process was needlessly inefficient and coordinators faced sensory overload.

Fortunately, Shiftboard’s advanced profile data, reporting, and people management solution is powerful enough to bring order to the most chaotic challenges.

Now organizers can filter data so they only see the info they need to coordinate their people, budgets, logistics, and beyond. “With Shiftboard, we’ve secured all our staffing information in one database. Our workflows are greatly improved and our managers have a clear view of reliably accurate info 24/7,” added Moore.

Configurable Reporting

Data clarity is important, but the real benefit lies in accessing the data you need to make more informed decisions. Managing all staffing and event-related data via Shiftboard allows organizers to pull detailed reports to find relevant info in real time. By adjusting reports for specific needs, they can quickly assess everything from how many hotel rooms are booked on a particular night to how many radios are checked out at once.

 

“With Shiftboard, all our compliance data is in one place, and we have detailed reports to help us manage everything. So now legal processes that used to take two months, only take one month.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

On top of better resource management, advanced reporting has also helped streamline compliance. The communication and documentation regulations for each of Maker Faire’s many staff classifications are extensive. Trying to track it all through various spreadsheets was very time-consuming.

“With Shiftboard, all our compliance data is in one place, and we have detailed reports to help us manage everything,” said Moore. “So now legal processes that used to take two months, only take one month.”

For Maker Faire, the result is unparalleled insight into event production and execution.

“Shiftboard allows us to contact anyone we need at a moment’s notice. That helps us adjust on the fly to maximize efficiency.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

On-Site Agility

Shiftboard’s power and flexibility help organizers better plan and staff up for Maker Faire, but its functional agility is just as crucial to the real-time production of the multi-day festival. Logistics like worker transit, meals, and lodging are key to putting on a successful event.

With so much happening in a short time, staying on top of specifics like who you’re feeding helps relieve management stress and improve efficiency.

Maker Faire also enhances their on-site event management using Shiftboard’s QR Passport – allowing them to automate staff benefits such as food vouchers through a simple QR code.

And instant communication tools keep their entire operation connected, so they can adapt to sudden changes immediately.

“Shiftboard allows us to contact anyone we need at a moment’s notice,” explained Moore. “That helps us adjust on the fly to maximize efficiency.”

On-Site Agility

 

“Shiftboard allows us to contact anyone we need at a moment’s notice. That helps us adjust on the fly to maximize efficiency.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

Shiftboard’s power and flexibility help organizers better plan and staff up for Maker Faire, but its functional agility is just as crucial to the real-time production of the multi-day festival.

Logistics like worker transit, meals, and lodging are key to putting on a successful event.

With so much happening in a short time, staying on top of specifics like who you’re feeding helps relieve management stress and improve efficiency.

 

Maker Faire Real-Time Coordination

Maker Faire also enhances their on-site event management using Shiftboard’s QR Passport – allowing them to automate staff benefits such as food vouchers through a simple QR code.

And instant communication tools keep their entire operation connected, so they can adapt to sudden changes immediately.

“Shiftboard allows us to contact anyone we need at a moment’s notice,” explained Moore. “That helps us adjust on the fly to maximize efficiency.”

Cost Savings

Rising costs and bigger budgets are expected effects of increasing popularity. Maker Faire is no exception. And as their reputation spread, avoidable expenses grew too big to ignore.

What they used to consider “lost costs” – such as extra hotel rooms and inefficient transportation – began representing major expenditures. As the price tag mounted, finding a way to track of these kinds of charges quickly became a primary concern. Lack of action risked swollen budgets and skyrocketing costs.

Luckily, the operational visibility Shiftboard delivered also helped Maker Faire better organize and manage their finances. From avoiding extra lodging fees, to planning airport shuttles, to maximize passengers per trip – coordinators were able to identify and correct inefficiencies. As compounding benefits, these newfound savings and more accurate projections also helped pave the way for smarter growth.

Cost Savings

Rising costs and bigger budgets are expected effects of increasing popularity. Maker Faire is no exception. And as their reputation spread, avoidable expenses grew too big to ignore.

What they used to consider “lost costs” – such as extra hotel rooms and inefficient transportation – began representing major expenditures.

As the price tag mounted, finding a way to track of these kinds of charges quickly became a primary concern. Lack of action risked swollen budgets and skyrocketing costs.

Luckily, the operational visibility Shiftboard delivered also helped Maker Faire better organize and manage their finances.

From avoiding extra lodging fees, to planning airport shuttles, to maximize passengers per trip – coordinators were able to identify and correct inefficiencies. As compounding benefits, these newfound savings and more accurate projections also helped pave the way for smarter growth.

User Satisfaction

When optimizing limited resources, time is usually at the top of the list. The size and scope of producing one Maker Faire, let alone two, made time an even more scarce commodity.

As a result, ease of use for both managers and workers was a major concern. No one had time to hold new user’s hands through onboarding or troubleshoot mix-ups.

That’s where Shiftboard’s intuitive, user-friendly interface really paid off for organizers.

 

User Satisfaction

When optimizing limited resources, time is usually at the top of the list. The size and scope of producing one Maker Faire, let alone two, made time an even more scarce commodity.

As a result, ease of use for both managers and workers was a major concern. No one had time to hold new user’s hands through onboarding or troubleshoot mix-ups.

That’s where Shiftboard’s intuitive, user-friendly interface really paid off for organizers.

Maker Faire User Satisfaction

Not only was it easy to begin using with minimal training, but user proficiency tended to improve quickly. As they became more skillful, people grew to appreciate the system even more.

“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from workers with all levels of technical backgrounds,” Moore pointed out. “Even the managers who resisted the most at first would never go back to the old way.”

Additionally, empowering users with easy schedule access to confirm details, update availability, or correct any errors beforehand had a positive impact on overall morale.

Plus, the tools to answer questions or communicate assignment details – like where to go and what to bring – made it easier to manage difficult staffing situations and set workers up to succeed.

Not only was it easy to begin using with minimal training, but user proficiency tended to improve quickly. As they became more skillful, people grew to appreciate the system even more. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from workers with all levels of technical backgrounds,” Moore pointed out. “Even the managers who resisted the most at first would never go back to the old way.”

Additionally, empowering users with easy schedule access to confirm details, update availability, or correct any errors beforehand had a positive impact on overall morale. Plus, the tools to answer questions or communicate assignment details – like where to go and what to bring – made it easier to manage difficult staffing situations and set workers up to succeed.

Continued Growth

Building something completely unique isn’t just a goal of the makers at an event – it’s the essence of Maker Faire itself. But that’s the thing about assembling a worldwide following from scratch: there’s no guidebook or instruction manual to follow.

For organizers, the ability to manage aggressive staff buildup through the same system was just a starting point. Improving operational efficiency through standardizing workflows and protocol has had the dual impact of freeing up resources to focus on expansion as well as supplying a template for adding new events.

With a blueprint for developing and executing new events, the sky’s the limit for Maker Faire. They can expand at their own pace to meet global demand with the confidence that Shiftboard is there to help them grow every step of the way.

Continued Growth

Building something completely unique isn’t just a goal of the makers at an event – it’s the essence of Maker Faire itself.

But that’s the thing about assembling a worldwide following from scratch: there’s no guidebook or instruction manual to follow.

For organizers, the ability to manage aggressive staff buildup through the same system was just a starting point.

Improving operational efficiency through standardizing workflows and protocol has had the dual impact of freeing up resources to focus on expansion as well as supplying a template for adding new events.

With a blueprint for developing and executing new events, the sky’s the limit for Maker Faire.

They can expand at their own pace to meet global demand with the confidence that Shiftboard is there to help them grow every step of the way.

“I don’t know how we did this before Shiftboard. It’s the one place we can always find the answers we need.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

Undeniable Transformation

It’s fair to say that the transition to dynamic scheduling has changed the game for Kerry Moore and her counterparts. “I don’t know how we did this before Shiftboard. It’s the one place we can always find the answers we need.”

“And Shiftboard’s customer success team is excellent. They’re great listeners who’ve worked with us to solve problems specific to our complex event. Their guidance has helped us grow with the product, so now we do a better job.”

Dynamic mobile scheduling from Shiftboard has helped Maker Faire transform operations and expand effectively.

If we can meet the demands of such a rapidly growing, one-of-a-kind event, why not see what we can do for your organization?

Undeniable Transformation

 

“I don’t know how we did this before Shiftboard. It’s the one place we can always find the answers we need.”

Kerry Moore,
Project Manager
Maker Faire

It’s fair to say that the transition to dynamic scheduling has changed the game for Kerry Moore and her counterparts. “I don’t know how we did this before Shiftboard. It’s the one place we can always find the answers we need.”

“And Shiftboard’s customer success team is excellent. They’re great listeners who’ve worked with us to solve problems specific to our complex event. Their guidance has helped us grow with the product, so now we do a better job.”

Dynamic mobile scheduling from Shiftboard has helped Maker Faire transform operations and expand effectively.

If we can meet the demands of such a rapidly growing, one-of-a-kind event, why not see what we can do for your organization?

Discover Smarter Scheduling

SEE IT IN ACTION TODAY!

Or, give us a call. We'd love to hear from you! 1.800.746.7531 (Simple-1)