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Thread: Moving towards compulsory youth data on OSM

  1. #16
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    As best I remember, because even although I am nominally an IT person at work - I'll be the first to admit, I've not really kept up (it's the NHS, we have no money.) I thought the sibling tool would eradicate duplicate emails going to primary contacts. But it doesn't.

    In which regard, unless you have a bro or sis joining the same section raw (so to speak), I'm not really sure what else it's for.

    In terms of fields... It is a bit of a guddle. Primary contacts 1 and 2. And within those email/mob 1 and 2. Nine times out of ten the emergency contact is either the primary1/2 contact. I notice the Cubs aren't keeping it up to date... Hmmm... Oh well... It's the torture of choice. Folk can't decide what bit to fill in, so the don't fill anything in.

    I also see the cubs have suppressed all their address fields... Hmmm...

    I think we need a comptroller.

    (That dates me... Although, to be fair, comptrollers are from before even my time...)

  2. #17
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    We use emergency contact as a third party e.g. grandparents who can be contacted if we can’t get either of the primary contacts.

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    OSM is the future for TSA. They should commit to it now - pay the money and give Ed. a Golden Handcuffs contract.

    It is scandalous the way TSA handled our IT projects.

    10+ years ago they decided on a bespoke, expensive Compass project. It was rubbish in testing - it was still rubbish on launch - and many of us saw immediately it was not fit for purpose and would have been awful to use. It was also insecure. That's >£2m we'll never get back.

    It is a scandal that the TSA thought they were special and needed a unique solution, designed by committee - and because they knew nothing about data they employed a big IT provider to fleece them. 6 years after the plug was pulled we have no idea what became of Compass for YP, what extra money was spent rewriting it, or when TSA decided it was not worth pursuing.

    It is a scandal they did not adopt OSM 10 years ago and that only now they are considering it as a backup to the failure to deliver Compass.
    What idiot committee looked at OSM and said it was not right for the TSA? How many organisations have the luxury of a third party (who knows the client's needs and is IT competent) developing software for them for free, testing it for free, putting into the market and then proving it in their own membership? And then ignore it?

    OSM is a very professional system - it is evolving, it has been proven commercially, and has high take up within membership. It is built for the needs of Sections - and as Group Admin I don't have a problem not having a one screen Group overview. It has some clunky nuisances but they pale in significance with other software. If it is lacking some of the TSA needs then I have confidence those can be incorporated by Ed. - he has a good track record, and if it takes time - well TSA have wasted the last 10 years!

    In the meantime we carry on regardless without Compass for another 6 years (clearly we didn't need it) - and I for one will not accept any new initiative from TSA.
    Last edited by Paul o; 25-09-2019 at 07:24 AM.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul o View Post
    It is a scandal that the TSA thought they were special and needed a unique solution, designed by committee - and because they knew nothing about data they employed a big IT provider to fleece them.
    They didn't. The company involved, whose name I forget, is a relatively small outfit which didn't have any experience in doing what TSA wanted, and as a result made a mess of it. The reason they were chosen was their incredibly *low* bid - I had a go at roughly pricing Compass myself based on what it would take me using my employer's platform and I reckoned on 10 times what was spent i.e. about £15m rather than about £1.5m, to do the job properly on a commercial basis.

    This seems fairly common - the organisation employed to do the GDPR work was similarly cheap (and similarly poor in their knowledge and competence in my opinion). I expect there is a lot of pressure to keep costs down which results in these organisations getting business from the charity sector.

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  6. #20
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    I recall that at the time the TSA stated the company was industry leader and well qualified, and the bill initially was £1.9m before the switch off and collapse. It has been 6 years since then - presumably someone has been working to repair Compass- and at a cost. The total Compass project cost to date would be the figure I'd like to see. The recent census report does not have transparency - merely bundling and disguising Compass costs into "IT".

    Compass was mandatory - so I don't see any problem with making OSM mandatory for the minority of Groups that don't currently use it. The only pushback will be that Compass was so poor that it was administered by one person in each Group, whereas OSM does need each section to embrace it. That, in the long term, is a strength as it will mean as Leaders churn there will always be someone within the Group that can help or train new Leaders on OSM. With Compass if your key-man techie had left then you would've been back to re-inventing a wheel (a square one).
    Last edited by Paul o; 25-09-2019 at 07:46 AM.

  7. #21
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    It's impressive, OSM is only 8 years old...

    https://www.escouts.org.uk/forum/archive/index.php/t-18447.html

    It was knocked up as a section leader tool, and works well for that. It gets increasingly clunky and frustrating at group level. But it's head and shoulders the best thing out there. For youth data management.

    Compass can be ignored for the majority of section leaders, but its predecessor would have been dead by now. Now, it does what it does in an okay way, again, clunky in places, but better than nothing.

    I'm not convinced bodging OSM so it does what compass does would be a very clever idea, but that's above my pay grade.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post

    It was knocked up as a section leader tool,...
    I think knocked up is a bit unfair. OSM worked from the get go, and has evolved to meet the needs of nearly everything we do as a Group - it is driven by the membership needs. It still works and is essential now. It has morphed to comply with TSA's requirements for translating to Compass input, and for Census. It has never failed for us, it has responsive support, and is cheap to run - everything that Compass is not. We don't use Compass other than to provide mandatory information for TSA... and that is the point, Compass was TSA's baby - not ours.

  9. #23
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    Why if I'm looking at an event that goes across sections can I not get the In Touch details for everyone on the event without switching sections?
    Why do I need to set up badge requirements in each section for each event? Why can't I do that once? Then again after the event, I need to apply the badge updates to every section separately.
    Maybe I'm the odd one out, and it's not really designed for me, so I just have to put up with it, as there's no commercial imperative to make it easier for me.
    Ed was a section leader, he wrote it to help himself as a section leader. Its greatest strength for section leaders is also its greatest flaw.
    Like I say, it's good, but for me, it's not great. Whether it's possible to write something that's great for me, and also great for everyone else, is a valid question.
    I hope OSM carries on and continues to be successful, but I don't think it's the universal panacea some paint it as.
    Ian Wilkins
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    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
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  11. #24
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    Moving towards compulsory youth data on OSM

    I think that the quirks of the way UK Scouting operates - and the wide variation in local custom and practice - means that using the section as the building block is exactly the right decision for OSM.

    we all know that some groups operate in a tightly integrated way whilst others have sections as individual fiefdoms.

    Making a one size fits all software solution is not trivial.

    Sure there are a few things that could be sharpened up to make group-level tasks easier - but I donít think OSM would be where it is today if it hadnít been driven by section level adoption.

  12. #25
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    Thing is, you can have both if you set the database rules up to deliver it. The current structure is a decision they've taken.

    Even if they allowed database-wide validation (ensuring sections are using the same fields/groupings of fields) would be useful. And although a lot of it is subjective, in terms of navigation, even within sections - around how you view data - it seems to be more clunky than it needs to be.

    That said, quite a lot of the time, users of these kind of things think it's clunky, but actually they're often not fully aware of all it's functions. So things that are a pain, can be worked around by changing parameters here and there.

    I wonder if our in-built diversity has worked against the development of OSM. The guy who designed it probably looked to how his group/sections worked and used that as a starting point. As we know, there is broad array of arrangements out there.

    Be that as it may. They're very responsive if you do have a question, which scores them highly in my view.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevynxxx View Post
    I wonder if there are things they can do to make that better though? How do the organisations who already use this at a national level (Irish and NZ guides?) do things?
    I'm not sure about overseas Guiding associations, but GirlGuiding UK doesn't have a concept of Groups, and hence the issue of being section-based would not arise, because that's how they do in fact work - excepting local arrangements, it doesn't follow, for example, that there's any kind of automatic transfer from the Brownie Pack at a venue to the entirely separate Guide Company there. Of course, other youth groups would typically have no Group concept either.

    So I wonder whether it's a case of how far the system should be adapted to the rather special case of the Group structure, when for others it works better with each section being independent? Just speculation.

    I did have some involvement on the panel of leaders for Compass, and it was clear to me that the issues and concerns faced by operational leaders were quite different from those for "managers", which probably includes some aspects of being a GSL. OSM has always prioritised the running of a section. Compass prioritised managing Scouting. That may not preclude adding in functions for the other side of the house, but it means systems with a quite different feel. I can entirely understand why managers might be as dissatisfied with OSM as operational leaders were with Compass - although, of course, none of us has the permissions to see the whole system in either case, so comments are sometimes made from ignorance!
    SL, 11th Hitchin

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  15. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul o View Post
    SNIP

    Compass was mandatory - so I don't see any problem with making OSM mandatory for the minority of Groups that don't currently use it. The only pushback will be that Compass was so poor that it was administered by one person in each Group, whereas OSM does need each section to embrace it. That, in the long term, is a strength as it will mean as Leaders churn there will always be someone within the Group that can help or train new Leaders on OSM. With Compass if your key-man techie had left then you would've been back to re-inventing a wheel (a square one).
    Can you qualify that OSM is NOT used by only a minority of Groups?

    Compass was NOT managed by just one person in a Group although I agree that it was not and is still not the best and accurate database there is. The are still many records that are wrong as the data didn't match from MMS to Compass and HQ don't seem interested in correcting that data.

    OSM, I have to admit that I have little knowledge of as I don't need to in my current role, but I do read and hear of some issues and quirks that some do not like although it has to be said that most like it more than they did compass for youth data.

    The only issue that I have potentially with OSM is that it costs an annual fee to use it which Groups that use are are currently willing to pay and it is owned by a private company so Scouting have no control over the product or it's cost. And if for some reason the product became unavailable then a lot of information that Groups keep will no longer be available to them as HQ have no control over the product or it's support.

    Probably not worded well here but I'm sure most will understand what I am getting at.

  16. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    Why if I'm looking at an event that goes across sections can I not get the In Touch details for everyone on the event without switching sections?
    Why do I need to set up badge requirements in each section for each event? Why can't I do that once? Then again after the event, I need to apply the badge updates to every section separately.
    Maybe I'm the odd one out, and it's not really designed for me, so I just have to put up with it, as there's no commercial imperative to make it easier for me.
    Ed was a section leader, he wrote it to help himself as a section leader. Its greatest strength for section leaders is also its greatest flaw.
    Like I say, it's good, but for me, it's not great. Whether it's possible to write something that's great for me, and also great for everyone else, is a valid question.
    I hope OSM carries on and continues to be successful, but I don't think it's the universal panacea some paint it as.
    You can get in touch details for everyone, across sections so long as you view it from the "owning" section (go to the event > sharing > attendees).

    The badges grumble I would partly agree with, certainly on setting up which badges can be earned. However, I think individual sections awarding them still makes sense as on an activity camp, there may be 10 activities to choose from but little Jimmy may only do 8 of them and it's not often the overall event organiser would know which.

    I'm pretty sure where national associations have "bought in" to OSM (Scouts NZ etc), OYM have worked with them to tailor the software to their needs; report building, structure etc. So it's not beyond the realms of possibility.
    James

  17. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul o View Post
    OSM is the future for TSA. They should commit to it now - pay the money and give Ed. a Golden Handcuffs contract.

    It is scandalous the way TSA handled our IT projects.

    10+ years ago they decided on a bespoke, expensive Compass project. It was rubbish in testing - it was still rubbish on launch - and many of us saw immediately it was not fit for purpose and would have been awful to use. It was also insecure. That's >£2m we'll never get back.

    It is a scandal that the TSA thought they were special and needed a unique solution, designed by committee - and because they knew nothing about data they employed a big IT provider to fleece them. 6 years after the plug was pulled we have no idea what became of Compass for YP, what extra money was spent rewriting it, or when TSA decided it was not worth pursuing.

    It is a scandal they did not adopt OSM 10 years ago and that only now they are considering it as a backup to the failure to deliver Compass.
    What idiot committee looked at OSM and said it was not right for the TSA? How many organisations have the luxury of a third party (who knows the client's needs and is IT competent) developing software for them for free, testing it for free, putting into the market and then proving it in their own membership? And then ignore it?

    OSM is a very professional system - it is evolving, it has been proven commercially, and has high take up within membership. It is built for the needs of Sections - and as Group Admin I don't have a problem not having a one screen Group overview. It has some clunky nuisances but they pale in significance with other software. If it is lacking some of the TSA needs then I have confidence those can be incorporated by Ed. - he has a good track record, and if it takes time - well TSA have wasted the last 10 years!

    In the meantime we carry on regardless without Compass for another 6 years (clearly we didn't need it) - and I for one will not accept any new initiative from TSA.
    OSM only succeeded because Compass failed. It wasn't great when it first started as it was purely knocked up as a gimmick for the tender to HQ, and at the time HQ were looking for a system it couldn't compete, and the system they went for had a proven track record from what was said at the time.

    OSM from a system point of view isn't the greatest and it's evolving over recent time means it has gone backwards in a few key things, mobile for example is now AWFUL, and something that is fundamental to OSM.

    Rule 66. A map and compass offers no protection against getting horribly lost.

  18. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul o View Post
    It is a scandal they did not adopt OSM 10 years ago and that only now they are considering it as a backup to the failure to deliver Compass.
    What idiot committee looked at OSM and said it was not right for the TSA? How many organisations have the luxury of a third party (who knows the client's needs and is IT competent) developing software for them for free, testing it for free, putting into the market and then proving it in their own membership? And then ignore it?
    Much as I agree with you that TSA have been useless at managing IT projects this is just a total rewrite of history. OSM barely existed when the procurement procedure for what became Compass started. I don't think TSA can be blamed for not deciding to throw a load of money at what was at that stage basically a bedroom project for one developer in his spare time as he had a full time job working for IBM (IIRC).

    Now its a fairly damning indictment of Compass developers (and the budget allowed for Compass by TSA) that OSM has been built into what it is in the preceeding years whilst Compass was launched botched and with far fewer features than OSM had by the time Compass launched and now Compass only just about works adequatly for adult data. However its interesting that Sections have been happy to pay a lot of money over to OSM collectively over the years but I bet there would have been blue murder screamed had TSA sugested increasing membership fees to provide such a service centrally (ok some of that would have been lack of faith in TSAs ability to deliver such a good product)
    Last edited by shiftypete; 26-09-2019 at 04:24 PM.

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