Author Topic: AUK FINANCES AND WEBSITE PROJECT was: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT  (Read 29573 times)

whosatthewheel

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #75 on: August 20, 2018, 04:27:38 pm »
If your city is crowded, you build more houses. You don't put up a concrete barrier and tell everyone else to jog on because this one's full.

Sure, I look forward to coming to your first TLC event (if it's not too far)

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #76 on: August 20, 2018, 04:28:51 pm »
I don't think it's the website that brings in or puts off new (younger) members, it's the events. The popular events don't gain a reputation through AUK, they advertise themselves in other ways, which brings in people from outside AUK. If they like it, which it seems they often do precisely because it's something different from a sportive or roadie club ride, they might or might not join AUK but they do go on to ride other events.
sideways bounding monkey lounging under fruit tree

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #77 on: August 20, 2018, 04:30:11 pm »
I don't think it's the website that brings in or puts off new (younger) members, it's the events. The popular events don't gain a reputation through AUK, they advertise themselves in other ways, which brings in people from outside AUK. If they like it, which it seems they often do precisely because it's something different from a sportive or roadie club ride, they might or might not join AUK but they do go on to ride other events.

At the Tramping the Two Loop there were many riders from the Evesham Wheelers who had no idea what audax is, they just came along because the organiser was a club member. I don't think many of them even bothered handing in brevets at the arrivée.
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Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #78 on: August 20, 2018, 04:38:02 pm »
And that's similar to many of the popular 200s and 100s. But they're unlikely, most of them, to go on and search for the next event on the auk website no matter what it looks like; they'll wait for the next one to come up on Facebook or by word of mouth. There can be more riders on events without there being more members, and more members without there being more riders.
sideways bounding monkey lounging under fruit tree

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #79 on: August 20, 2018, 04:39:25 pm »
However, if the purpose of the website redevelopment is primarily back-end stuff, that's all fairly irrelevant.
sideways bounding monkey lounging under fruit tree

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #80 on: August 20, 2018, 04:44:06 pm »

Inappropriate to provide any details here... but not happy reading.

+1, the thread should have been locked immediately and continued on the AUK forum, not appropriate to discuss here

As a non AUK member at the moment (pay-per-ride) I would still like to know what's going on.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #81 on: August 20, 2018, 05:03:17 pm »
Do prices of IT projects ever get influenced by sizes of unallocated reserves?

I used to make websites for small companies (coding only, I had no involvement in sales or billing) and for at least some of them the budgeting seemed to work by them keeping asking for changes until they ran out of money.

whosatthewheel

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #82 on: August 20, 2018, 05:06:36 pm »


At the Tramping the Two Loop there were many riders from the Evesham Wheelers who had no idea what audax is, they just came along because the organiser was a club member. I don't think many of them even bothered handing in brevets at the arrivée.

Exactly,
Club backed event... club riders treat it as a sunday ride... they won't even visit the AUK website... maybe even sign up on the day... ignore the brevet card and discard it at the end...
With a flashier website... it would be exactly the same

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #83 on: August 20, 2018, 05:18:57 pm »

In what way is the website crap? And how is it off putting? It could be improved upon yes, but it's perfectly functional*.

*front end anyway.


The default page doesn't have a "new to long distance cycling?  Start here!" link or section.
 
The default page has 3 sections.  The middle is events that are about to happen.  The right is admin stuff for the organisation and the left are links to other AUK information of interest

The RH column shouldn't be on the front page unless the announcements are genuinely of massive interest to many many members.  The listing of events is unattractive.  The LH column has *16* menu items which typically expand to 4 more when you hit them- too complicated

There is no sitemap or "find on this site" box on the default page.  There are no pictures at all unless you count the AUK eagle logo

In terms of function, if you know that you want a 200 starting from near you in the next few weeks, it's easy, alter the search parameters a little bit and then scroll through the list.  If you *dont* know then you'll be scrolling through a lot of tiny text- it's not so easy


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Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #84 on: August 20, 2018, 05:32:16 pm »
Much is being made of Audax needing to grow, to have more members, being 'more inclusive' (ie, non-white), to have a flashier web site. But why?

People who want to ride Audax will, those who don't won't. Why the imperative? As an Audax member - this year anyway - it matters little to me who else joins as long as I can ride my perms whenever I want. I don't feel the need to mass with the masses.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #85 on: August 20, 2018, 05:42:41 pm »
If your city is crowded, you build more houses. You don't put up a concrete barrier and tell everyone else to jog on because this one's full.

And once the new houses are full, what next?
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

whosatthewheel

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #86 on: August 20, 2018, 05:43:33 pm »
Much is being made of Audax needing to grow, to have more members, being 'more inclusive' (ie, non-white), to have a flashier web site. But why?

People who want to ride Audax will, those who don't won't. Why the imperative? As an Audax member - this year anyway - it matters little to me who else joins as long as I can ride my perms whenever I want. I don't feel the need to mass with the masses.

More to the point... the organisation is growing... hence the need for better IT... whether better IT will mean even more growth... we will see... I am dubious a flashy website will turn more people into the hobby of collecting points.

It might well be that the inevitable increase in annual fee to pay for the project might result in members giving up their membership

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #87 on: August 20, 2018, 05:50:10 pm »
Regardless of the front end appearance, I want the back end gubbins to be reliable and to not consume too much volunteer time to keep running. It would be nice if they could ride their bikes occasionally. That is actually a critical problem, not just because of bouncing against scaling limitations as the organisation expands but because the back end relies on labour-intensive work-arounds and obsolete systems.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #88 on: August 20, 2018, 05:52:47 pm »
Much is being made of Audax needing to grow, to have more members, being 'more inclusive' (ie, non-white), to have a flashier web site. But why?

I believe the main driver behind a new website was that the existing one is creaking and could fall over at any point. See FC's post on the AUK forum.

Once a 'new website' was deemed necessary then the expectations began to build and the scope crept. Not only should it do what the current website does but it should/could also do X, Y and Z, etc.

Going down a commercial route was always going to be expensive (compared to volunteers), but I'm surprised at the suggested costs.

I'd also hazard a guess that the existing website would have 'cost' 6 figures had FC's (and everyone else's time who has worked on it) been paid for. (The IT aspect of AUK isn't unique in this respect, I can't begin to imagine the 'cost' of the time that all of the organisers and other volunteers would total each year.)
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #89 on: August 20, 2018, 06:00:27 pm »
Regardless of the front end appearance, I want the back end gubbins to be reliable and to not consume too much volunteer time to keep running. That is actually a critical problem, not just because of bouncing against scaling limitations as the organisation expands but because the back end relies on labour-intensive work-arounds and obsolete systems.

This is the angle I'd be looking at too. A 'self-sufficient' website that has things like route maps showing where rides pass near my area and that makes logging/recording/validating rides as simply as possible to free up the hundreds/thousands of hours of volunteer time that is currently taken up would perhaps open up an opportunity to focus on providing a more TLC focussed National SR series (or two, to cover both ends of the country) which of course I appreciate would require a lot of resource in both time and manpower.

These things obviously come at a cost - having worked in a DDaT function for a while now I know there's many, many ways of spending money to solve a problem...!
One Man and LEJOG : End-to-End on Two Wheels in Two Weeks (Buy the book; or Kindle it)

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #90 on: August 20, 2018, 06:05:58 pm »
Regardless of the front end appearance, I want the back end gubbins to be reliable and to not consume too much volunteer time to keep running.

Apparently the support and maintenance is going to cost around £26,000 a year.
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that's not science, it's semantics.

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
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Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #91 on: August 20, 2018, 06:15:40 pm »
I'm just awed that this was able to happen. It'd probably have been cheaper to hire a professional IT project manager with a clear scope and budget to manage the upgrade, I hope I'm wrong but it seems to me that things have been done by volunteers who necessarily can't give the project full attention and scrutiny.
As someone upthread said: "IT Project Overspend Shocker" ;)

The 21stC has seen many many disasterous IT Projects - big and small. Almost all of them were overseen by "professional IT project manager"s.
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #92 on: August 20, 2018, 06:24:40 pm »
I believe the main driver behind a new website was that the existing one is creaking and could fall over at any point. See FC's post on the AUK forum.

I’ve read that post and I’d love to know more about what those technical problems are and why they’re unsolvable without starting again from scratch. Sure, code can become a mess over time, and sometimes components need replacing, but the solution to those is to tidy up and replace those bits.

Every programmer dreams of binning their messy code and starting again, but it’s almost never the sensible business choice.

(It’s not clear to me whether “Phase 1” includes any independent database or backend, or if it’s just some prettied up versions of the public facing events browser and a few other pages)

Blazer

  • One too many mornings and a thousand miles behind
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #93 on: August 20, 2018, 07:03:17 pm »
I don't understand the full reasons for an upgrade but they must be pretty critical to risk the financial safety of the entire organisation.

All I know is I didn't renew my membership in Dec 2017.  Seems a questionable decision to risk the future of the organisation in the hope existing members continue to renew and/or sufficient new members join.

What's the plan B?

FWIW I rarely visited the AUK website when I was a member and the website played very little part in my cycling or joining AUK.  Perhaps I'm just fortunate to live in an active audax area.

Pip pip

Karla

  • car(e) free
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Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #94 on: August 20, 2018, 07:31:09 pm »
I don't think it's the website that brings in or puts off new (younger) members, it's the events. The popular events don't gain a reputation through AUK, they advertise themselves in other ways, which brings in people from outside AUK. If they like it, which it seems they often do precisely because it's something different from a sportive or roadie club ride, they might or might not join AUK but they do go on to ride other events.

When I joined AUK aged 24 it was so I could ride some per
ms which were advertised very well by Mike Wigley on the Peak Audax website, the main AUK site being even more clunky back then.  I then decided I wanted to complete an SR so went looking for longer rides ... on the AUK site.  So sorry but you're wrong, people do get attracted over the internet as opposed to local reputation.  Particularly for the longer rides where events are fewer and the fields is more widely geographically spread, advertising to people outside your local circle is important.

If you think AUK is bad though, look at the CTT.  If you then think they're bad, take a look at the RRA.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #95 on: August 20, 2018, 07:37:12 pm »
Whether it brings in more members, or more riders to existing events is largely irrelevant.
The existing website, like it or loath it, is the front-end to a system that is critical to the entire running of the organisation.

As FC says "It uses tired old code on tired old software and the last time we had a major forced migration (Jan 2016) we had the dickens of a job sourcing and commissioning old enough server software to run our code.  Frankly, it really could fall of a cliff at any time"

It's not just messy code, it's code that simply will not run on modern software (and as LWaB points out, takes a vast amount of volunteer time to keep it running.) 

AIUI, after going through an initial analysis phase and a tendering process, there were then two options: a "Big Bang" approach, involving a whole new database structure, and a more phased approach involving a contractor not only 're-skinning' the website, but also working with the existing DB, and bringing blocks of functionality in as they were developed/could be afforded.

Arguments about whether the tendering process chose the right contractor are fair enough (we've all got 20:20 hindsight after all) but the organization faces a very stark choice:   
Spend it's reserves, and more besides, to replace the IT infrastructure.
or
Run the daily risk that aukweb.net just "stops", no more new events, no brevet card printing, no events validated except by "paper" processes, nothing.

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
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Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #96 on: August 20, 2018, 07:46:32 pm »
I believe the main driver behind a new website was that the existing one is creaking and could fall over at any point. See FC's post on the AUK forum.

You'd think so, but as I understood it at the time, it was very much a desire for a shiny outward-looking new website with lots of pictures.  Somewhat driven by several threads of criticism of the existing site, on this forum.  The prime movers at that time (they are no longer involved) didn't seeem to have much concern about the back-end implications of aukweb, which is truly like an iceberg, 90% unseen.

I’ve read that post and I’d love to know more about what those technical problems are and why they’re unsolvable without starting again from scratch. Sure, code can become a mess over time, and sometimes components need replacing, but the solution to those is to tidy up and replace those bits.
Every programmer dreams of binning their messy code and starting again, but it’s almost never the sensible business choice.
(It’s not clear to me whether “Phase 1” includes any independent database or backend, or if it’s just some prettied up versions of the public facing events browser and a few other pages)

They mostly relate to the PHP language which is subject to frequent updates and not very good at backwards compatibility.  Unfortunately it's not just a case of search-and-replacing old code functions with new, that would be easy enough.  The new functions often have a different syntax.   It's a bit like trying to access a spreadsheet with macros, that was last saved on Excel v4, on a modern W10 PC.
We're in the situation now that no-ones cares about aukweb.  I wrote the code up to 2008, and much of it is still in use mostly in admin areas that members don't see. (If you're an organiser and use the Planner - that's the sort of stuff.) The person who was responsible for what you see today (the yellow sidebar and red bird) stopped development in 2013 and is no longer an AUK member.  His replacement walked away mid-term, having assessed the magnitude of the tidy-up job.  I am recalled as the 'caretaker' but I see that as a strictly passive role, the more so when I see what others earn from doing this stuff..

AFAIK, Phase 1 will be front-ending the existing data without any modifications.  I could be wrong about that.
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #97 on: August 20, 2018, 08:30:41 pm »
If I understand correctly, if you are not an AUK member, and want to do an AUK ride, you can pay 2 quid to join for the duration of the ride. With 19 quid as the cost of membership, you need to do 10 rides a year before it's cost effective to join (assuming you are only interested in Calendar events).

Increasing the price makes this balance even harder.
Could always work the other way round - increase the non member fee to encourage people to join.
I don't really care, I'd hate to see money spent that didn't need to be, but if it does and that raises the cost by a couple of quid a ride it's hardly going to bankrupt anyone.  The entry is never the major cost of any ride I've done and for all the reasons I remember rides (Or try and forget them) the entry fee isn't one.
I've ridden seven calendar events this year, that's quite an active year for me, two have been local and I'd have heard about them anyway, the other five I've travelled for and have been attracted to by their publicity - in the magazine, on facebook, here... organisers are not obliged to publicise  their events but there seems to be plenty of scope for those that wish to.
Hats off to those who've kept the old site running, it's always functioned fine for me, I'm not sure what more I'd want.  The BC site linked above as a shining example I thought awful, took me 5 mins to find the list of rides amongst the clutter and then I can't see any detail without logging in.  If we spend the money can we please have something better than that.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #98 on: August 20, 2018, 08:34:08 pm »
At the Tramping the Two Loop there were many riders from the Evesham Wheelers who had no idea what audax is, they just came along because the organiser was a club member. I don't think many of them even bothered handing in brevets at the arrivée.

At one of the Dutch rides we had a group of Sportiv riders turn up, not realising what a BRM involved, they got lost very quickly, and then gave up...

Much is being made of Audax needing to grow, to have more members, being 'more inclusive' (ie, non-white), to have a flashier web site. But why?

People who want to ride Audax will, those who don't won't. Why the imperative? As an Audax member - this year anyway - it matters little to me who else joins as long as I can ride my perms whenever I want. I don't feel the need to mass with the masses.

So basically what you're saying is you're happy for AUK to be just a place for old white men, while the rest of us should either have to fight up hill, or just bugger off?

Every ride I do seems to have approximately 10% women on the ride, and in one case less than 5%. I work in IT, I'm used to being surrounded by men, but I can see it would be really off putting for many, I wonder how many women turn up to one event, realise it's just old white men, and then go ride elsewhere. I'm getting really tired of it, but I'm too damn stubborn to be put off by such thing.

I don't think a new website is the solution to this problem, it needs a wholesale attitude reset, but I think there's a lot a new website could do to help make things more accessible:

- Maps of routes on all ride pages
- GPX of all events
- None of this A, B, C, D, G, X, H, K code thingy, but maybe nice simple icons...
- Easy way to search based on a map.
- Ability to sign up without needing SAE's, a cheque book, telegrams, or carrier pigeons.

I don't care how the site looks, I actually like the retro appearance of the current site, but I can see features that are worth adding, and knowing that there is spaghetti under the hood, then it becomes a point where you have to build a new site.

This all said, as someone who works in IT, and have done projects like this in the past, my first reaction is "I never charged enough for the work I did" followed by "what on earth are we paying that much for? what the hell are they providing us, and who thought this lot were the right choice to hire?"

Remember that for many younger than 30, they don't drive, they can't afford a car, and so they need to get to rides by public transport or by riding. This limits what events they can do. Events where you can crash the night before, or start at a youth hostel, are much more accessible to younger riders. Even rides with sensible public transport access, they often start before the 1st train...

J
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Bairn Again

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #99 on: August 20, 2018, 09:20:39 pm »
With all these IT experts, its going to be easy to resolve.   :D