Author Topic: AUK FINANCES AND WEBSITE PROJECT was: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT  (Read 30869 times)

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #350 on: September 25, 2018, 10:58:59 am »
You don't actually even need a website at all to organise and ride audaxes.

Of course not, there was no website before 1995 and no data-driven service before 1999, and online centralised admin (membership, events, records) was incrementally introduced up to 2005.  Online entries started around 2007 I think.

However AUK has grown a lot since then, more members, more events, more rides ridden - and it would be very hard to go back to distributed desktop admins now.  It's not just pressure of work, with a lot of volunteers at the coal face you get a lot of different abilities - some are not very PC-savvy at all - and problems of communication between PCs and Macs - the current system with its central database and tailored browser-based 'control panels' for the different tasks - levels all those problems out.  (We don't need a new system to do any of that - the new project is all about Teh Shiny - but it has to take the other stuff on board as well.)
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #351 on: September 25, 2018, 11:11:57 am »
It's an external service called MailChimp. They send tens of millions of emails a day.

1. Spam filters may have moved it to the junk folder.
2. It's delayed due to a technical problem between Mailchimp and your email provider and the systems will try again periodically so there may be a temporary delay.
3. They don't have your correct email address.
4. It's a conspiracy and they purposely didn't email you.

I’ve still not had the email. It’s definitely not 1 or 3, so it must be either 2 or 4...

Hmmm!

It must be 3.  I've checked the emailing list and citoyen isn't on there.  Nor postie either come to think of it.  But everyone who had registered a valid email on their aukweb > My Details screen was included. 

There are some obviously invalid email addresses, such as those who were formerly with fsnet or orange, so they won't have got anything.

There wasn't anyone in option 4, but then I would say that wouldn't I.

It would appear that some spam filters don't like bulk communications from the likes of MailChimp.  But what else can we do?  At least it's better than sending out emails from my personal email account.  I am restricted to sending 250 emails in any 24 hour period, and I'll leave it as an exercise for the class how long it would take to sent out 7114 emails.  Some of you would still waiting for your email now - as indeed you are!  There's also no guarantee that this would be any more successful.

Anyway, I'll offer my apologies to the Board, and particularly the Chair, for embarrassing them by sending out the email without the recipients' names.  It just shows how easy it is to offend people.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #352 on: September 25, 2018, 11:32:48 am »
It must be 3. I've checked the emailing list and citoyen isn't on there.  Nor postie either come to think of it.  But everyone who had registered a valid email on their aukweb > My Details screen was included.

No, it's definitely not 3. I know this because I have previously received communications to my listed email address (eg relating to my recent calendar event, sent via the link on the event page) and it hasn't changed.

I've searched my spam folder and can't see it there either, and I have recently received other Mailchimp-generated mailings to the same address. I imagine that's no guarantee that it's going to work every time though.

Quote
There wasn't anyone in option 4, but then I would say that wouldn't I.

;)

Quote
Anyway, I'll offer my apologies to the Board, and particularly the Chair, for embarrassing them by sending out the email without the recipients' names.  It just shows how easy it is to offend people.

Well, thank you for your efforts anyway. They are very much appreciated, even if you only hear the complaints most of the time.

Bianchi Boy

  • Cycling is my doctor
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    • Reading Cycling Club
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #353 on: September 25, 2018, 12:36:56 pm »
Everybody's "minimum" would be different though.
I think the point I was trying to get across was that the people in charge need to decide what a minimum functionality is. There appears to be quite a list of complex and exotic functionality in the pipeline and there needs to be way forward that does not have AUK going bankrupt.

AUK would not be the first organisation to go under because of a great idea that was either poorly executed or not adequately understood. Because of the nature if IT projects (better described as R&D since no one has done it before) they are hard to predict and almost impossible to cost. You are better off allocating funds and making sure you get value for the spend rather than planning the implementation of a large set of complex functionalities that are poorly understood.

BB
Set a fire for a man and he will be warm for a day, set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life.

Manotea

  • Where there is doubt...
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #354 on: September 25, 2018, 12:44:40 pm »
I've asked for a breakdown of the marginal amounts the different increases are expected to achieve.*

I know FF is  keen on increasing temp membership fee as he sees it as 'free money', but there is a real cost to this approach.

Whilst its not the whole of the story, it's noticeable that in recent years some of the largest events in terms of numbers of riders have been lost from the AUK Calendar, and those events had  a high proportion of temp membership riders.

Increasing temp membership fees will only increase that trend. If an event entry fee is, say, £10 and organisers are expected to hand over 30% of that to AUK, they will take a long hard look at what they are getting for their money.

This is actually a double loss, not only is AUK losing revenue but also and potentially more significantly, a shop window, as large groups of riders who previously might not have ridden an Audax event before or only one or two will no longer do so. It's in the nature of things that those events were relatively easy for those riders to sign up for and take part in, an easy lead in to riding more audax events.

---
*FWIW I'm relaxed about increases to membership charges, but rather doubtful about increases to temp fees. Changes to other fees are as yet unknown. It would be helpful to understand how much the changes are expected to raise, their impact on AUKs cashflow projections, and the analysis/justification behind the approach taken.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #355 on: September 25, 2018, 01:04:21 pm »
We don't need a new system to do any of that - the new project is all about Teh Shiny - but it has to take the other stuff on board as well.)

I think the board’s decison is being driven by statements like this:

Quote
What is very much the case however, is that the existing aukweb badly needs to be decommisioned, and somewhat urgently.  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 commisioning old enough server software to run our code.  Frankly, it really could fall of a cliff at any time, and comes to that so could I.

If you think there are other options then you badly need to put it to the board.

arkle

  • Mr Full Value...
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #356 on: September 25, 2018, 02:13:44 pm »
We all appear to be missing a point here. In all IT projects you have to ask the questions "What if we did not have an IT system for this?" and "What is the minimum set of functions we can survive with?" AUK board should look at these questions first before looking at extending time lines for projects. Also if some of the functions were farmed out to paid admin there would be a flat cost for functions rather than an a spiralling IT cost. I work in IT and many projects change through their duration because of cost and time.

My recommendation, look at the smallest set of IT functions possible and implement that. Then each year (period) look at enhancing the functions and base this on time and materials (not function as the complexity can be more than you thought at the start). If it does not work in the time hold back and implement the following year. This way the organisation will have a sold base and moving forward. The current strategy looks like it risks bankrupting AUK and not leaving it with a viable minimum function organisation.

BB 

Everybody's "minimum" would be different though.
I think the point I was trying to get across was that the people in charge need to decide what a minimum functionality is. There appears to be quite a list of complex and exotic functionality in the pipeline and there needs to be way forward that does not have AUK going bankrupt.

AUK would not be the first organisation to go under because of a great idea that was either poorly executed or not adequately understood. Because of the nature if IT projects (better described as R&D since no one has done it before) they are hard to predict and almost impossible to cost. You are better off allocating funds and making sure you get value for the spend rather than planning the implementation of a large set of complex functionalities that are poorly understood.

BB

BB's comments are essentially correct. Whilst there has been huge debate about eg diversity, the completeness of e-mail lists and what level fees need to be set at, the priority should be mitigate risks now and that means stabilising the project by removing the unknowns as far as possible. I agree there needs to be a hard look at what essential functionality is needed to keep the organisation going and the current project scope should be limited to just that. That functionality should be clearly documented as a clear and stable definition of exactly what is to be implemented as a start and only when that has been successfully achieved should more functionality be considered. At the moment the requirement appears to be a moving target and that always translates into increased costs.


Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #357 on: September 25, 2018, 02:14:17 pm »
It must be 3. I've checked the emailing list and citoyen isn't on there.  Nor postie either come to think of it.  But everyone who had registered a valid email on their aukweb > My Details screen was included.

No, it's definitely not 3. I know this because I have previously received communications to my listed email address (eg relating to my recent calendar event, sent via the link on the event page) and it hasn't changed.

I've searched my spam folder and can't see it there either, and I have recently received other Mailchimp-generated mailings to the same address. I imagine that's no guarantee that it's going to work every time though.


Don't worry...I didn't get one either (checked spam etc.), and have an email address set up in aukweb's 'My Details' screen - I'm not offended, mind...I caught up with everything here and the forum!
One Man and LEJOG : End-to-End on Two Wheels in Two Weeks (Buy the book; or Kindle it)

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #358 on: September 25, 2018, 03:23:32 pm »
Anyway, I'll offer my apologies to the Board, and particularly the Chair, for embarrassing them by sending out the email without the recipients' names.  It just shows how easy it is to offend people.

I will also offer my apologies to those who were offended as it was on my advice/insistence that this was sent as a direct email to members rather than simply published on the web site for people to find. DC did a sterling job in stepping up to handle the mailing, at short notice, and I'm only sorry that not everyone received it as planned.
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #359 on: September 25, 2018, 03:34:43 pm »
---
*FWIW I'm relaxed about increases to membership charges, but rather doubtful about increases to temp fees. Changes to other fees are as yet unknown. It would be helpful to understand exactly whet the changes are expected to achieve. their impact on AUKs cashflow projections, and the analysis/justification behind the approach taken in deciding the new charges.

As someone who's income is in euros, the price change in pounds is actually so little to as effectively just correct for the fact the pound is tanking.

You make some good points regarding the increase in guest fees. I did in one of these threads suggest a small increase for it, but they seem to have gone for a 200% increase if I read it right (1 --> 3), which seems a tad steep. I'd have gone for 1->2 or 1->1.5.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #360 on: September 25, 2018, 03:50:07 pm »
Only a 50% increase from £2 to £3.

"It was also agreed to increase the temporary membership fee for non-members riding events by £1 to £3."

hillbilly

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #361 on: September 25, 2018, 04:46:59 pm »
At the end of the day, if this goes tits up, Audax UK will die but audax and long-distance cycling in the UK will continue.

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #362 on: September 25, 2018, 05:18:41 pm »
I think the board’s decison is being driven by statements like this:
Quote
What is very much the case however, is that the existing aukweb badly needs to be decommisioned, and somewhat urgently.  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 commisioning old enough server software to run our code.  Frankly, it really could fall of a cliff at any time, and comes to that so could I.

If you think there are other options then you badly need to put it to the board.

My solution is simple.  Do whatever is necessary** but at AUK rates, not at commercial rates.  What's so difficult about that in an organisation which is (a) largely volunteer-run and (b) appears to be stacked with self-professed IT experts.  But if Board ever want my opinion (as custodian of the existing aukweb) no doubt they'll ask for it.

** 'necessary' appears to be, in order:
(1) a liberal coating of fairy dust
(2) [edit to add] a more robust event entry system
(3) upgrade existing code and data to future-proof it
(4) add highly specialised custom-built future-looking bells and whistles
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #363 on: September 25, 2018, 05:41:03 pm »

Assuming there's no overspend on top of the overspend. What will be left in the coffers after the 340k goes out?

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #364 on: September 25, 2018, 06:38:51 pm »
Everybody's "minimum" would be different though.  I would suggest that, since cheques as a means of payment are on borrowed time, the absolute minimum requirement is an online listing of events, with the facility for anyone to enter an event online. 
At the crudest level the listing itself could be maintained by an admin offline on a desktop, with periodic uploads to refresh the list. 
The entry process would simply send a notification to the organiser - though to be safe there would need to be some logging and once you have that you effectively have your online Start Sheet for each event.
And once you have a Start Sheet it's not much of a step to a Finish List, and from there to a Results service.

The rest - membership admin, validation, Arrivee, and background tasks like finances, can be done offline on desktops, admins scattered around the 3 nations.  That's how it was in the last century.  Is that "minimum" enough?

I think the important point is where the desired functionality diverges at a fundamental level from an off-the-shelf CMS / e-commerce platform, which is where you need someone to do clever databasey things, rather than just tweaking the front-end for the type of products on offer.  That's probably *handwaves* somewhere around the validation and results stage, I suppose.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #365 on: September 25, 2018, 07:29:15 pm »
A few years ago 'this months audax panic' was the dilemna of a non-commercial body holding vast reserves of cash. It was generally agreed that this was a bad thing and that effort should be put into somehow getting rid of the vast reserves.

So, at least the Board should be congratulated for successfully putting an end to that conundrum and ensuring that for at least the foreseeable future it cannot happen again.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #366 on: September 25, 2018, 10:43:52 pm »
Still waiting for any email here. No disrespect intended to DC- I don't think this latest email glitch is on you.

Bianchi Boy

  • Cycling is my doctor
  • Is it possible for a ride to be too long?
    • Reading Cycling Club
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #367 on: September 26, 2018, 07:07:24 am »
A few years ago 'this months audax panic' was the dilemna of a non-commercial body holding vast reserves of cash. It was generally agreed that this was a bad thing and that effort should be put into somehow getting rid of the vast reserves.

So, at least the Board should be congratulated for successfully putting an end to that conundrum and ensuring that for at least the foreseeable future it cannot happen again.
It is amazing how quickly a pile of cash can be made to disappear on an IT project. Then at the end of it there is nothing to show but some lines of code in a source code repository that no one knows how to build into something that works.

BB
Set a fire for a man and he will be warm for a day, set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #368 on: September 26, 2018, 07:45:14 am »
I know very little about the IT industry, but I view this situation in the light ofthe perceived need to disburse the huge reserve held by AUK, as detailed above, as well as the need to attend to the website.

There is no doubt the Board were well-intentioned, and perhaps the most vocal of critics, those with self-professed IT expertise, can ruminate on whether their expertise may have been more usefully delivered in a manner other than hindsight. In fact, you yourself are offering useful advice as to how the project should proceed, so perhaps an offer of more direct,  hands-on help would be welcomed?

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #369 on: September 26, 2018, 08:10:45 am »
I am very surprised that there is so little contact between the Board and Francis, especially since this cost blowout became apparent.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

fboab

  • It's a fecking serious business, riding a bike
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #370 on: September 26, 2018, 08:41:50 am »
I suppose everyone looks at this fiasco from their own viewpoint. IT people are all looking at the requirements and how they'd do that differently.
As a buyer I'm horrified at a) the massively inaccurate cost assessment b) a total failure of the supplier to actually produce anything after however many years and c) no sign that the contract has been actively managed.
If I pulled off a disaster of this scale at work I'd be sacked, and £340,000 is a much smaller proportion of my spend than of AUK's.

I feel very negative about this. I really don't want to renew. When I look at what I personally get from being a member AUK that I wouldn't get if I wasn't a member the answer is the ability to compare my points total to other people's and a mighty handy excel calendar download. I've had all the prizes and awards except the trike and recumbent and I don't want those. The only thing missing from my palmares is an Ultra- and I'm not sure I CBA for another 5 years of SRs.

Obviously if AUK didn't exist I'd lose a lot more. AUK is only the sum of its parts. Individual organisers do a grand job, key volunteers scurry away in the background spreading stamp collecting joy everywhere- and the massive pot we wanted spent on benefits to the riders is gone with no clear benefit to anyone.
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #371 on: September 26, 2018, 09:06:25 am »
In fact, you yourself are offering useful advice as to how the project should proceed, so perhaps an offer of more direct,  hands-on help would be welcomed?

A lot of people offered advice, especially on the AUK thread. Much of that advice was along the lines of pausing after phase 1 to consider all options. It wasn’t even acknowledged - just the chairman’s letter declaring Phase 2 is going ahead exactly as planned and here’s how you’ll be paying for it.

So I’m not sure where you get the idea that help would be welcomed.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #372 on: September 26, 2018, 09:54:06 am »
Fair enough. I rarely read the AUK forum. The implication is that the Board rejected advice from IT professionals, then?

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #373 on: September 26, 2018, 10:17:53 am »
I think the important point is where the desired functionality diverges at a fundamental level from an off-the-shelf CMS / e-commerce platform, which is where you need someone to do clever databasey things, rather than just tweaking the front-end for the type of products on offer.  That's probably *handwaves* somewhere around the validation and results stage, I suppose.

It's ironic that that bespoke backend stuff, the 'hard part' is actually the thing that is least needed, imho.
What's the actual point of AUK maintaining lists of past results? As a record of rides done it is never, ever going to be able to compete with strava, so why bother trying?

ACP maintains lists of BRM finishers so it's not necessary for PBP qualification purposes.

A new website might be necessary to facilitate entries but a cheap generic ecommerce site would be suitable for that - it seems most of the money is going on the 'need' for it to be bespoke, but to try to replicate functionality that is already provided by Strava, but which is never going to be as good as Strava.

The 'getting people through the door' side of the functionality is what is going to enable AUK to keep making money, but it's the other part that is costing the money to do.

It is what it is. It's not what it's not, so it must be what it is.

Martin

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Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #374 on: September 26, 2018, 10:24:45 am »
FF; if my sources are correct why are we interfacing to the existing database? why can't we sunset it and migrate the important historical data over?