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Why does scouting seem to be so out of touch with the software and computing world?

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  • #16
    I thought of a couple different responses to BD's post about the need for money, mostly along the lines of how much is wasted in terms of time by professionals, office staff, camp staff, and US, that would justify spending the money.

    But my final response is that he's right --- volunteers. The question is how well do councils, or national, utilize them when it comes to technology. In my council we have a Camping committee, and a Training committee, and Risk Management, and Finance, and Advancement, and Membership, and several other committees. All of which get substantive commitments of time and energy from their members. But I have never heard of a Technology Committee.

    Our council and camp websites are put together by a DD in his "spare time". The Lodge has a volunteer do their site, the districts each have some volunteer, but there's no coordination, no strategic plan, no ongoing directed initiative. And I can't think of why not.

    Does anyone out there know of a council, or national for that matter, Technology committee that has the equivalent function and focus as the committeees I named above?

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    • #17
      Ok quantify for me the amount of time wasted by DE's and such???? you just can't do it.

      DE's are salary so the time wasted is of no cost to the council.


      A technology committee on a district level is a waste......

      Council level???? what would they do???? Keep the website up to date???

      National sure....

      Again what would they do???(This message has been edited by Basementdweller)

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      • #18
        From my perspective, this isn't something that should be addressed locally so much, only for sake of uniformity.
        Most of the "rank & rule" already exists on a national level, BSA web site, BSA publications (scout manuals, leader's guides, etc...).
        I assume that membership rosters and advancement are more on a council level, but that shouldn't be too hard as they should in theory at least already be uniform...

        As has been mentioned, a lot of these issues have already been addressed on the open market, with programs such as Scout Manage, Packmaster, Troop Master, etc....

        No sense in re-inventing the wheel or making this thing difficult.... link and outsouce!

        Worried about manpower?.... do what business does, outsource to these folks.
        Worried about how much space a photo takes?.... make a link to something like Picasa or Shutterfly...
        Worried about a few MB of space for individual pack or troop pages?.... Just have a standard template and let the hosting be taken care of locally by the pack/troop. All the tracking, and other stuff would just link up to the national uniform 'system'.
        Worried about email? You'll never be able to compete with solutions such as Gmail, so why try? Just use Gmail!
        Worried about not enough money? come on, this is a national organization. How many scouts & scouters are there in the BSA.... raise dues by 50 cents a head or something....

        Admittedly, I'm watching from the nose bleed section, but it seems that most if not all of this is available and already done, it just needs a little attention and polish.

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        • #19
          I just googled it. According to Wikipedia
          The BSA had an enrolment in 2011 of 3,770,907 registerd adults and youth.

          I really can't belive that the money couldn't be found in whatever budget they are already carrying to maintain the web sites on national and council levels, as well as the roster/advancement database ....
          but based on the registration numbers, if dues were increased by $0.25/head they would increase revenue $942,726.75 per year.
          Come on.....
          Add to that, all the money that individual units are spending now, on web sites, tracking and advancement programs, etc..... that they theoretically at least wouldn't have to spend....
          .... really?

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          • #20
            In the 2010 annual report, the BSA is listed as having over $770 million dollars in assets. The national corporation has plenty of money. I understand that individual councils might not have a lot, but the people who need to fix the IT are the national people.

            A lot of these changes should save money in the long run. How much time is spent by people at the local council office dealing with issues like registration or advancement or whatever, that is unnecessary and could be fixed by a good system?

            And sure, they could even use some volunteers to do it. I'm sure there are all kinds of talented people out there who would be willing to lend some expertise.

            Somehow there are all kinds of companies out there that manage to offer up free disk space and free processing. But I'm not even talking about that. I don't need for national to run everyone's web sites - I'd just like a standard template that could easily be run by any web site provider.

            Many organizations allow you to join on-line.

            The problem isn't that hard, there are known solutions, and national has plenty of money to implement it.

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            • #21
              Oak ya hit is on the head.

              So why can't folks join and pay on line????? Then be directed to a unit. Why do i have to tra el to the scout office with apps......
              It is the simple things

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              • #22
                Sorry to dig up a slightly old thread, but this is something that drives me crazy too...

                True story:

                My local district staged a sort of coup with our council over adult leader training data. National wants everyone trained, but then can't provide any reliable reports as to who's been trained with what:

                * People have multiple myscouting.org records, with different training associated with each one
                * People hold multiple positions with different units (something ScoutNET can't handle: again requires multiple BSA Ids)
                * National reports are broken, so you can't get a report even when you ask for it.

                The frustration hit a sort of boiling point, and the district decided to create their own training data application, where local units could log in to see and update *their own* data. That way, a leader could login, find the five BSA Ids that match his profile, aggregate all the training data, and then update it with his latest records. It's a sort of on-your-honor system, but it does have an audit trail, so you can see who entered what training data and where.

                Our council (to their credit) has been pretty supportive of the project. It's been rolled out to the three largest districts with plans to roll it out council wide in the next year. We were able to get the council to provide us the best training data they have, then we merge the data on our end and give them back something that's cleaned up (okay, we're working on the last part). So far, everybody LOVES it.

                Now, everybody from the UDC to the COR can log in to see exactly what training has and hasn't been completed for their respective areas.

                So, there are a few points that come from this:

                * BSA is not a software development company
                * There are a ton of scouting volunteers that will volunteer A LOT of time to see improvements in scouting IT systems
                * There is a huge power to giving local leaders at every rung of the scouting organization the data they need to do their job, without begging their local councils for printouts
                * There are districts that are pushing the envelope, with very good results


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                • #23
                  Sorry, one other thing in response to a some of the comments in this thread:

                  I think of the BSA as the government: there's no competition, and therefore little innovation. But I'm sorta okay with that - because part of what makes scouts great is that it's not a bleeding edge progressive organization.

                  I would much rather see the BSA stay away from any software development, especially if it's "optional", like websites, calendaring, photos, etc, and ESPECIALLY if it means we're all gonna have to pay more for it. Let private companies handle that stuff - you're much more likely to get a better product anyway. If troops and packs want it, they can pony up the money for it. Of course I'm pretty biased that direction...

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                  • #24
                    You from San Tan district?

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                    • #25
                      Yeah, San Tan...

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                      • #26
                        So you'll have to get them to work on fixing the merit badge counselor list next!

                        I'm Firebird district.

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                        • #27
                          I was a custom software program for a large corporation and I had on my wall the following message:

                          You can have your software program...

                          CHEAP FAST GOOD

                          Pick two...

                          Stosh

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                          • #28
                            Stosh, as a Communications Equipment Maintenance/Repair manager in the Marine Corps I had the same sign on my desk.

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                            • #29
                              Love the GOOD, FAST, CHEAP reference. Probably the most true saying in software development.

                              @5yearscouter

                              I've actually had several meetings with Virgil Clark (San Tan's MB Coordinator) about integrating Merit Badge counselors into scoutinghub - it's a great fit and would be a very nice addition.

                              Unfortunatly, I've gotten busy working on CubTrails and my "other job" and haven't had time to get to it yet. But it's coming!

                              Glad to meet another GCCer. Where is Firebird? And have you guys adopted scoutinghub yet?

                              Eric

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