Blackbaud

Blackbaud is a highly profitable company headquartered in Charleston, Carolina, in the US, which for 25 years has concentrated on products and services for the not-for-profit sector.  It has offices in Glasgow and London and in the UK handles sales for the SRO4 ticketing system from its Waterloo office, alongside market-leading products such as Raiser’s Edge.

Blackbaud supplies a system developed by TopTix in Israel, previously badged in the UK as Patron Edge, now in the latest version (late 2012) called SRO4 – Standing Room Only version 4.  Just to confuse matters, Blackbaud took over the re-seller contract from Artifax, who had called the earlier versions of SRO “Artifax Ticketing”.  The previous code-line from TopTix was replaced in 2012 with this ‘version 4’, effectively a new system. TopTix and Blackbaud have matched their new system capabilities against the Functionality Builder and achieved a high score.

Patron Edge had huge incremental development under the Blackbaud brand and matched the functionality of its competitors in most areas.  Their Internet Ticketing module, famously implemented with sophistication at English National Opera at the Coliseum, is an excellent tool-kit and led the way with selling tickets off the seating plan and controlling the process fully.  It does have basic interfaces with its own funding raising tool The Raisers Edge, and with Artifax Event, which Artifax maintains.

SRO4 can seem initially expensive because of the up front per terminal license model for the TopTix product, though it is competitive in cost if you make a 3-year or more cost of ownership calculation.

in the past users commented that Blackbaud appeared to have a ‘pay for everything’ business approach, and you can see why impecunious arts organisations would be worried when some of their quoted fees were over £1,000 per day.  There had been complaints about resolution of problems, and the company’s “attitude” towards them, though some of these have been with third party suppliers, especially credit card payments.  That situation should be transformed, since TopTix now directly handle implementation and suppport for the Patron Edge and and SRO4 systems.  Some users had already switched their annual support contracts to their satisfaction and now this is the standard arrangement.

There is no doubt that the new Version 4 from TopTix has been well worth waiting for, already released in Israel and the Benelux countries, it is a major migration to a new open platform, with state-of-the-art implementation, APIs and  interfacing for joined up solutions across an organisation.