Work is still progressing on the different elements of the IT project, and we thought it would be useful to update members on where we are.
Entries, Admin, Results and Scoring (EARS) – this part of the project will effectively run the ‘on event’ side of the sport. As the name suggests, EARS covers the entire event process from:
- Setting up an event, including all associated event data for our Organisers
- Giving Entry Secretaries the visibility and ability to manage data relating to classes, sections, ballots, waitlists, substitutions, multiple riders, processing refunds and running reports.
- Functionality to produce the Outline Timetable, Sections and Entries, ready to publish draft and final times data online. Communication of these to riders via email and/or SMS.
- The new Scoring application – which has been developed for use during the day(s) of the event. The application has been configured to work both on and offline, and at events where there is internet connectivity, results data will be displayed on the website. At events with no connectivity, this data is stored within the application ready to be synchronised back, when connectivity is available.
As we previously communicated, Sue Thompson, one of our BE scorers, has been involved in the development process, to ensure that all aspects of the scoring process have been considered. Sue and Bev Cheshire (from our BE IT team) took the Scoring application out to trial at the end of last season to both Bovington and Aston Le Walls. The application was also used to remotely test Bicton. Whilst the testing was largely successful, and reflected the months of hard work to get to live testing, it did highlight a number of areas for improvement which were passed back to our suppliers for resolution.
Since then, the Scoring application has been through a number of updates and has undergone further testing with both Sue and the internal team at BE. The updated application is back out for live testing at Warwick Hall this weekend, and further live tests are planned over the coming weeks to ensure we capture as much feedback as we can. We are expecting a number of ‘bugs’ to be identified – this is part of the process of testing – and this will enable us to ensure the final product is as robust as possible.
We would like to thank all those involved in developing and testing the scoring application, including Sue, Miranda Collett and Lesley Hagerty, who have all been key to the planning, development and testing of the application. Lesley is also doing some great work on producing a training manual for the new system.
The Sectioning and Timetabling elements of EARS are currently being tested by Josie Brettell, Lesley Hagerty and Sue Thompson, all of whom have been fantastic at working with us to help identify as many issues and scenarios as we can during user testing, prior to moving to ‘live event based’ testing. It is key that we involve the right people at the right time in our testing so that the final product is as good as possible. With that in mind, as testing is progressing, we are involving an increasing number of Scorers and Entry Secretaries to work alongside Sue, Lesley and Miranda including Wendy Evans and Fiona Saxby.
Work on the website continues, and our focus over the last couple of months has largely been on the resolution of bug fixes, and enhancements post the launch. We have also been working on reinstating functionality available on our previous website relating to Volunteer data, horse pedigrees, rider and points leagues and supporting new business initiatives. We will continue to work through issues raised via member feedback, including improvements to the search functionality, and display of data when accessing the site via a tablet or mobile device.
It is clear from some of the member feedback we receive that there are many people who still believe that the website is the only output from the IT project. As there is still some confusion, we thought it would be useful to show the extent of the work involved:
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And the below diagram shows the areas of our sport which are covered by the project:
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We hope that this helps members understand the volume of work involved, and highlights the original need for the project - we are building a platform on which to support the entire sport into the future.
Third party solutions
Until the EARS system is fully functioning for next season, BDWP and the two other external entry and scoring systems (BEASOFT and HEMS) continue to submit entries/times/results to BE. To support them, we have created solutions to enable these systems to continue to work with the new BE database. In acknowledgement of the fact that going forward we will be using a BE only system, we have endeavoured to keep the system change requests to our third parties to a minimum, which has led to some issues and frustrations for both event organisers and competitors, in particular missing and duplicate entries and missing results on the website. These processes have matured considerably and are now more reliable and stable, and will continue to improve.
As some members may be aware, there is a lot of data validation and transfer required by our third party entries and scoring systems. For example, when you make an entry on an external site:
- Enter your information on a site such as BDWP
- Data validation takes place with BE for:
- Horse name
- Horse membership – does the horse have the right membership for the competition being entered?
- Horse MERs - does the horse have the minimum eligibility requirements for the class, or are they too experienced?
- Rider name
- Rider membership
- Rider MERs - has the rider achieved the minimum eligibility requirements for the class, or are they too experienced?
- Is the combination (particularly for junior riders) eligible to enter the class?
- Are there any suspensions in place which would prevent entry?
- For International classes, does the FEI consider the horse and rider to have the Minimum Eligibility Requirements?
- The entry is validated (or not)
- An entry ID is set up on our database, which then drives the sectioning/ timetabling, and enables the results to be linked to the original entry
- As the entry secretary and Scorers manage the entries - balloting some entries out and adding entries from the waitlist for example, and then moving on to Sectioning, setting Competition Times and finally adding Results - these updates get uploaded to BE and then synchronised with Salesforce, for display on the website.
The project has not run as smoothly as we would have liked, leading to some justified criticism. With the benefit of hindsight, different decisions may have been made along the life of the project, however we remain focussed and are working towards providing the best solution we can for the sport. There is no doubt that the change in systems had to happen, but we need to learn from the mistakes we have made to date and ensure we do not make the same ones again.
We are very aware that a lot of people depend on us getting this project right. With the use of third party providers falling away for next year, our focus is very much on ensuring we have the right solution in place, in good time.
We cannot promise that as we go in to live trials of EARS it will be totally bug free - one of the purposes of a live trial is to identify any remaining issues. Extensive internal testing has taken place but until the system is on event, we are unlikely to have covered every scenario or edge case that a live event may throw up. We also know that training our on event teams will be key in ensuring that they are fully prepared for the start of next season.
We know that previously we have not kept our stakeholders well enough informed about what we are working on and delivery timescales and we are keen that we engage better with everyone for the remainder of the project.