Author Topic: AUK FINANCES AND WEBSITE PROJECT was: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT  (Read 30932 times)

j_a_m_e_s_

  • Prisoner 17091
    • AUK results
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #425 on: September 28, 2018, 07:52:15 am »

So do you think the Board should get the boot?

Loaded question! I'm sure the articles would somehow prevent it from happening anyway.

I think that they should put the future of the works in the hands of the membership. If the membership votes in favour of carrying on, that is fine by me.
In the meeting minutes, RJ is even quoted as having said that the membership should be consulted. Let me state that again - the IT refresh man said the membership should be consulted. Who, and at what point was he overuled?


FWIW I don't quite agree with this.

I wish that the board would do the right thing. I don't trust the membership to be able to be informed enough to make the right decision if it went to a ballot.

What I wish the board would do is stop at the end of Phase 1 and reassess. Don't fall for the Sunk Cost Fallacy and throw good money after bad with Phases 2/3.

Phase 1 has cost enough and scared enough people that a proper rethink is required.

Whether you or I believe the membership aren't informed enough to make the right decision is irrelevant. Its not as though the board are forthcoming with details. (I'm sure case law says they can't divulge some stuff, but do the board know enough?) The only right decision is the decision of the memberhip. This is a club supposedly, not Westminster or Brussels.

Every other point in your post, I agree.
Rule 77

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #426 on: September 28, 2018, 08:03:44 am »

So do you think the Board should get the boot?

Loaded question! I'm sure the articles would somehow prevent it from happening anyway.

I think that they should put the future of the works in the hands of the membership. If the membership votes in favour of carrying on, that is fine by me.
In the meeting minutes, RJ is even quoted as having said that the membership should be consulted. Let me state that again - the IT refresh man said the membership should be consulted. Who, and at what point was he overuled?


Maybe the minutes were incorrectly recorded, in which case it's the fault of the clarks.


Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #427 on: September 28, 2018, 08:16:33 am »

So do you think the Board should get the boot?

Loaded question! I'm sure the articles would somehow prevent it from happening anyway.

I think that they should put the future of the works in the hands of the membership. If the membership votes in favour of carrying on, that is fine by me.
In the meeting minutes, RJ is even quoted as having said that the membership should be consulted. Let me state that again - the IT refresh man said the membership should be consulted. Who, and at what point was he overuled?


Maybe the minutes were incorrectly recorded, in which case it's the fault of the clarks.

Maybe they were pinching corns.

j_a_m_e_s_

  • Prisoner 17091
    • AUK results
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #428 on: September 28, 2018, 08:21:07 am »

So do you think the Board should get the boot?

Loaded question! I'm sure the articles would somehow prevent it from happening anyway.

I think that they should put the future of the works in the hands of the membership. If the membership votes in favour of carrying on, that is fine by me.
In the meeting minutes, RJ is even quoted as having said that the membership should be consulted. Let me state that again - the IT refresh man said the membership should be consulted. Who, and at what point was he overuled?


Maybe the minutes were incorrectly recorded, in which case it's the fault of the clarks.

Maybe they were pinching corns.

Ecco, ecco, ecco.........
Rule 77

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #429 on: September 28, 2018, 10:56:18 am »
Maybe the minutes were incorrectly recorded, in which case it's the fault of the clarks.

Maybe they were pinching corns.

I think we've had enough footwear-based puns in this thread already, thank you.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #430 on: September 28, 2018, 11:00:12 am »
Well, we don't. ::-)

If you've got some enlightened comment that will add some new balance to the discussion then nobody is stopping you.


citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #431 on: September 28, 2018, 11:04:52 am »
Well, we don't. ::-)

If you've got some enlightened comment that will add some new balance to the discussion then nobody is stopping you.

That had better be the last one.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #432 on: September 28, 2018, 11:09:38 am »
(Bzzzzt.....repetition!)

Hold your tongue you Shitheel.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #433 on: September 28, 2018, 11:14:56 am »
I believe we have had tongue before. He would have every right to give you a jolly big welt.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #434 on: September 28, 2018, 11:16:13 am »
That awl you got?

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #435 on: September 28, 2018, 11:18:22 am »
As yet another person with significant web experience (20 years, projects up to £10m but mostly around the £50k-£500k level including years inside agencies selling such projects) this is all worrying.

There are first-order obvious questions around projects that are over ambitious and agencies that make money out of people's ignorance and inexperience (indeed that is part of the business model of most agencies) stupidly high maintenance costs and general over specification to satisfy the desire for one system to rule them all. Generally stopping and taking a good look at what you have and need is probably a good idea at this point. If the critical part of the project is infrastructure then how are we doing on that? What is the least we can do to solve that problem? What are the minimal set of features we can use to run events? How can we make those as easy and pleasant to use as possible? How is that ease balanced against the cost? You need an approach to that too.

There are second-order questions about system design and intent - like why a monolithic website/management system? One of my favourite exercises when reviewing or writing briefs is how much of this specification in front of me could I do with google docs and forms and a routing engine like IFTTT or Zapier? The answer is usually around 80-95%. Add a marketing/story website on top from a platform provider like webflow or square space and add stripe (the expensive bit). I appreciate that is a bit challenging as a set of ideas and that the time for them is past, but nevertheless there is was an opportunity here to just to leap over the whole pile of spec-driven nonsense. I suspect a tech person from the team will give me a hundred reasons why the current approach is the best, and I would be happy with a good explanation, but I would want to know that a cloud-based free-tools MVP approach had been considered. It is the modern way for a good reason. And most web agencies are explicitly not structured to offer that kind of advice or service because it is not profitable for them.

Third-order is organisational. My casual observation is that the Audax clientele has a strong Venn cross-over with Technical, IT and Web pros. While this population will never be of one mind it seems wasteful to not recruit some of their expertise. Indeed I offered mine (to read specs and briefs etc) and was thanked but never contacted. I have no particular problem with that and I am grateful that there are people who put in this amount of time for nix and I hope to join their number when family commitments subside a little. This bit is about being grateful for volunteers but balancing that with getting good advice. There is no easy answer to that, but it seems a little odd to not call on that expertise in the membership without devaluing the contributions of the generous volunteer core.

Over the years I have noted that there is a strong correlation between expense and structure of the organisation commissioning digital work. It is simply easier for a Board to cope with Specs and costs rather than get their heads around alternative approaches. As a web practitioner I see this a lot - projects look like organisations that start them, even when that form is inappropriate. A fact of life. Unfortunately this often means that larger more formal organisations get their lunch eaten by upstarts - this is where the SWOT analysis comes in - who are the 'threats' to AUK, what are the opportunities etc. Again more about strategy than IT, but my observation is that organisations are much more likely to start a project to deliver what they *think they want* than take a good long look at themselves beforehand. Then, with over runs,  the project then becomes highly contested and becomes an expensive and tortuous defacto soul-searching exercise. I think we can see that playing out here. Again, horse has bolted on this one, but a good one for the lessons-learned list. Money spent on direction and strategy is often resented in organisations but it saves you a ton of cash in the medium term.

Finally I love my Audax riding, I am not particularity bothered about the price rise and generally I actually don't really care how well the board functions. I suspect this appreciative apathy is quite common. I don't excuse this apathy and acknowledge that I am not a great example of the charitable individual. The collapse of the organisation would, of course, be a blow and should be avoided but I would be really troubled if it was a failed IT project that did it. Projects can be paused, saved, rewritten, renegotiated, abandoned. There is always hope, but often admitting a feckup is the right place to start. I genuinely wish the board all the best in this, it's in no one's interest for this to become a collapse.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #436 on: September 28, 2018, 11:23:36 am »
So how do we get the interested IT/ procurement AUKs together with the Board's IT committee and all the relevant information and documentation to fully understand the scale of the problem and to workshop alternative solutions?
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #437 on: September 28, 2018, 12:25:15 pm »
Yes offers so far are fragmented, instead of somehow being assembled in one place - I have had a couple of PMs via this forum, and a couple via the AUK forum, and likely other PMs have been sent to other people - then there are remarks like "I'll thow my hat in the ring" upthread from here.  But it seems that all such offers at present fall on deaf ears, because the new project is in the hands of the contractors, and there is no mandate to refurbish the old aukweb.  If there were, I would as a first step open up the documentation that exists for aukweb, to interested applicants.  But we're not at that stage.

What I wish the board would do is stop at the end of Phase 1 and reassess. Don't fall for the Sunk Cost Fallacy and throw good money after bad with Phases 2/3.
Look at what really is the problem (the current infrastructure is shaky) and the proposed solution (which does not change this) and realise that it is pointless to continue with Phase 2 or 3 as it stands.
and
There is one other point there appears to be two separate objectives, one to give us a modern web site and the other to get us off obsolete infrastructure. Which is the most important, I would suggest the second.

But the IT refresh project from its inception (early 2013 I think) is specifically about Teh Shiny.  The second objective didn't exist.  And in a perverse way (unintended I'm sure) it is the existence of the new project that has led to the obsolescence of the old.  Like - you build a new garden shed and you don't care too much any more about the leaky roof on the old one.  As soon as the new project became reality in 2013, all incentive was lost to continue development on aukweb, or even to do anything more than essential maintenance.  Without that new project, the obsolete features in aukweb's codebase would have been addressed long ago.

Why are CF1 using the existing data?  Well I think it seemed an obvious first step and a way to get some tangible progress out there, to just re-skin the front end.  And migrating the data is not trivial - it's very 'live' with around 20 event entries per hour and half a dozen new members per day.  They have discovered too late (I did try to warn) that the data structure is labyrinthine and obscure, with unintuitive table and field names.  Really, at some point it has to be rebuilt.  They could employ me as a consultant (I'd be very cheap) to guide them round this stuff and it would save them stacks of time and therefore reduce their billing.  I do in any case answer their questions when asked but in general they don't seem to know what are the right questions.

There are second-order questions about system design and intent - like why a monolithic website/management system? One of my favourite exercises when reviewing or writing briefs is how much of this specification in front of me could I do with google docs and forms and a routing engine like IFTTT or Zapier? The answer is usually around 80-95%. ...
 I suspect a tech person from the team will give me a hundred reasons why the current approach is the best, and I would be happy with a good explanation, but I would want to know that a cloud-based free-tools MVP approach had been considered. It is the modern way for a good reason. And most web agencies are explicitly not structured to offer that kind of advice or service because it is not profitable for them.

There is the history.  The data-based aukweb was set up before Google Docs was a thing.  It replaced desktop operations spread across the 3 nations, from Cornwall to Edinburgh, on a mix of platforms (PC and Mac).  And it was instantly a huge improvement.  The database originally had to replicate as closely as possible, what the volunteer workers knew from their desktops, databases which to some extent they had each developed individually.  Table structures and field names were copied aas far as possible. 
Also for most workers this was pre-broadband, so data queries and resultsets etc had to be kept as lightweight as possible.  (Those who know me will vouch that I am to this day a bit eccentric about bandwidth!)  Partly for these reasons there are a multitude of small data tables where a more modern design would use fewer larger ones.  No-one who admins for AUK is assumed to be SQL-savvy so their interface consists of control panels and stored queries tailored to each task - Membership, Events, Results etc.  I think many of them would be less comfortable with a generic interface based on generic tools - but maybe I'm wrong about that.

I've had no input to the new project, but presumably those who drew up the spec looked at what we currently have and at least partially drew inspiration from that.
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #438 on: September 28, 2018, 12:47:12 pm »
It replaced desktop operations spread across the 3 nations, from Cornwall to Edinburgh,
Non-IT question: Why does AUK not organize events in Northern Ireland?

IT question: As a non-IT person, what does "infrastructure" mean in this context?
"Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star." Dirac.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #439 on: September 28, 2018, 01:02:51 pm »
There is a gentleman's agreement that Audax Ireland does most or all of the calendar events and perms on the island, though there is nothing stopping a Northern Ireland AUK organiser stepping forward. There are (or were, haven't checked recently) some AUK perms through Ireland and Northern Ireland with GB organisers. Both organisations have agreements with ACP to run BRMs in Northern Ireland and there is currently no issue with AUK starting a brevet in NI and heading across the border, though Brexit seems determined to change that.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #440 on: September 28, 2018, 01:06:00 pm »
(Have you ever been to N.I?)

I think it means different things to different people, but what is being referred to here is that aukweb is stuck on old software and can't easily update.  It's a bit like a lot like using Windows 98 and Word 97 - there's nothing actually wrong with those but it's a risky setup that would not be easy to recover if it goes wrong.  Although people seem to be fixated on the data, it's actually not the database that is the main problem, it's the scripting code (1000s of individual scripts) used to display the public site and run the (much bigger) non-public stuff.  Virtually every single one requires updating, and it's not just a trivial thing like search-and-replace.
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #441 on: September 28, 2018, 01:17:16 pm »
No small feat...
Did you mean "feet"??

This is very confusing ...
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

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #442 on: September 28, 2018, 01:21:15 pm »
I think it means different things to different people, but what is being referred to here is that aukweb is stuck on old software and can't easily update.  It's a bit like a lot like using Windows 98 and Word 97 - there's nothing actually wrong with those but it's a risky setup that would not be easy to recover if it goes wrong.  Although people seem to be fixated on the data, it's actually not the database that is the main problem, it's the scripting code (1000s of individual scripts) used to display the public site and run the (much bigger) non-public stuff.  Virtually every single one requires updating, and it's not just a trivial thing like search-and-replace.
I see. Or at least, I see that it's not physical hardware, which is what the term implied to me. Thanks (and to LWaB)!
"Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star." Dirac.

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #443 on: September 28, 2018, 01:28:28 pm »
I see. Or at least, I see that it's not physical hardware, which is what the term implied to me. Thanks (and to LWaB)!

Physically most servers these days are very robust.  A much, much greater risk than hardware failure is Hosting Provider failure - a company that just ceases to exist overnight.  Even in that case aukweb does have a backup server running on a different Host that copies the data in real time, and the codebase and any uploaded gpx files etc, nightly.  The domain name is hosted separately again so can be pointed at either server.
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

Bianchi Boy

  • Cycling is my doctor
  • Is it possible for a ride to be too long?
    • Reading Cycling Club
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #444 on: September 28, 2018, 06:12:53 pm »
I see. Or at least, I see that it's not physical hardware, which is what the term implied to me. Thanks (and to LWaB)!

Physically most servers these days are very robust.  A much, much greater risk than hardware failure is Hosting Provider failure - a company that just ceases to exist overnight.  Even in that case aukweb does have a backup server running on a different Host that copies the data in real time, and the codebase and any uploaded gpx files etc, nightly.  The domain name is hosted separately again so can be pointed at either server.
Many infrastructure problems come because of old software being used that first stops being supported and then stops works on the latest hardware or operating system. So this does not sound too bad just upgrade the software. Ah well the code will not work with the new version and an upgrade is needed, which requires some re-writing, ah and then regression testing.
So we will keep running the old software on old hardware. But the hardware stops working and then there are no spares, and the software no longer gets security patches and is vulnerable to hacking, then the data centre will not run it anymore because it does not run the current version of the monitoring tools.

The above is a summary of what I have seen on many occasions because of a lack of investing in upgrades and putting things off until next year. Is this what has happened to AUK site?

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 #445 on: September 28, 2018, 06:39:31 pm »
The above is a summary of what I have seen on many occasions because of a lack of investing in upgrades and putting things off until next year. Is this what has happened to AUK site?

There is one other point there appears to be two separate objectives, one to give us a modern web site and the other to get us off obsolete infrastructure. Which is the most important, I would suggest the second.
But the IT refresh project from its inception (early 2013 I think) is specifically about Teh Shiny.  The second objective didn't exist.  And in a perverse way (unintended I'm sure) it is the existence of the new project that has led to the obsolescence of the old.  Like - you build a new garden shed and you don't care too much any more about the leaky roof on the old one.  As soon as the new project became reality in 2013, all incentive was lost to continue development on aukweb, or even to do anything more than essential maintenance.  Without that new project, the obsolete features in aukweb's codebase would have been addressed long ago.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #446 on: September 28, 2018, 10:07:27 pm »
I didnt follow the genesis of the IT rewrite but did anyone look to see if a system/package out there could be tailored to AUK needs, rather than write software. British Cycling have a club/race admin system, RiderHQ is used for a lot of sportives (I use it for organising Willesden CC's Reliability Rides and it works well and I can see no reason it wont work for audaxes with more than a little twiddling. There are several commercial club management products too.

Much of what is special about AUK such as the points competition and long term storage of results can be achieved by exporting rider data from the package and loading it into bespoke tables that can then be interrogated. APIs make that easy to automate, but there are other ways to do it.
 
Events I am running: 6th Apr 2019 3Down London - New Forest 300K; 22nd Jun 2019 Willesden's Last Gasp 600K; 30th Jun 2019 2 Audaxes from Maidenhead;

bairn again

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #447 on: September 28, 2018, 10:34:23 pm »
At least us normal folk know that AUK has loads of IT professionals and we can make allowances accordingly. 

I’d always wondered why you were all so weird, but had just assumed you were all GPs or actuaries.   ;)

arkle

  • Mr Full Value...
Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #448 on: September 28, 2018, 11:31:06 pm »
I didnt follow the genesis of the IT rewrite but did anyone look to see if a system/package out there could be tailored to AUK needs, rather than write software. British Cycling have a club/race admin system, RiderHQ is used for a lot of sportives (I use it for organising Willesden CC's Reliability Rides and it works well and I can see no reason it wont work for audaxes with more than a little twiddling. There are several commercial club management products too.

Much of what is special about AUK such as the points competition and long term storage of results can be achieved by exporting rider data from the package and loading it into bespoke tables that can then be interrogated. APIs make that easy to automate, but there are other ways to do it.
 

In the context of all this debate I thought I'd look at the Audax Ireland website, which appears to be written using Wordpress. The scope of what they do seems simpler than AUK, but it was quite interesting nonetheless to see how they do things.

Re: AUK CHAIRMAN STATEMENT
« Reply #449 on: September 28, 2018, 11:42:30 pm »
Ireland takes a more catholic approach to cycling. So Cycling Ireland embraces all disciplines. Audax comes under Sportives and Leisure. It's possible to decode them by the distance references, any reference to multiples of a 100 will reveal an audax.

http://www.cyclingireland.ie/page/events/events-calendar/leisure-sportive-events

An odd concept to cyclists in the UK of course.