Lincoln City FC
When we first began to work with Lincoln City Football Club, they already had a well-organised and disciplined setup. All paperwork was completed and returned in a timely and orderly fashion, staff had a role and were comfortable within that role, a board of directors who were firmly behind the organisation and a Youth Department who had a place for everything and everything in its place. What use were we in a case like that? An obvious question with a simple answer! We would help them to streamline and manage their data in an orderly way which would allow for multiple users to access at will.
Our first task was to look at the existing data management system and identify how it could be improved. We had, in the past maintained and re-organised the database used to store not only names and addresses, but also relevant dates and squad info. The system was beginning to become a little slow and cumbersome due to the outmoded method of storage. Although working, it would be better served becoming a multi-user, heirarchical system with security and access levels. The system was held on one PC which was operated by a member of staff who had access to the system when they were in the office. This person was very efficient when it came to managing and updating the system and had to this point done a very good job, it just needed to be made available to a wider user-base.
On examining the system, it was found to be intact and functional with most of the required information stored inside. There were other pieces of information which was stored within filing cabinets and 'My Documents' folders. The data had gone beyond simply storing player names and address and the occasional other piece of information about them, it had now become an integral part of the day-to-day running of the Centre. In order to create a useful and viable alternative, we needed to stand back and look at the organisation itself and how it was managed and structured. Immediately we could see that in place was a well-oiled 'machine' which had all of the building blocks in place to not only cope, but progress with a little help and advice. The information dissemination process was a little long-winded at times but got there and important info such as game times and training session changes was almost always passed along to the parties concerned. What would be the best course of action to change these issues?
From our initial observations, we could see two main areas which needed modification.
We decided that as the information was critical to the running of Lincoln City and was an integral part of their organisation, we couldn't simply take them 'offline' just to make changes. The simplest way would be to build a solution around their existing system and remove the old system on completion!
We started by taking their user database with all of the player details, modified to suit the format we required then built an application around their data. There was no need to re-enter all information as all we needed was available within the file. Once we had created the application, we looked at what they did and asked the question... 'can we help them to improve efficiency?' Again, the simple answer was yes! We added various modules which allowed Lincoln City to treat each player as a unique record and could therefore tailor the information to suit the individual, they could also group and organise by age group, location, position and a variety of other search criteria. We added levels of security to ensure all staff who required to see the information could gain access to it but could only modify if they had permissions to do so. This ensured data integrity remained intact.
Our next step was to take the finished product back to Lincoln City and look at what they did with it. We observed then, based on conversations and observations, we 'tweaked' the system to ensure everyone could get the same results from the software. This also ensured all players within the system received the same attention and opportunities. The software has been running successfully for an extended period of time and has now become a central part of the player administration process within the club. All staff who require access now have it and can view , add, edit or modify as required.
The disseminiation of information had become pretty standard when we looked at the way it was handled at the club. A notice board was updated with fixture information and squad information. This worked perfectly well providing the player/parents attended training on the night posted. It was suggested that a purpose built website would offer greater flexibility when it came to passing information. As before, we observed the processes and procedures for disseminating information regarding training and matches then replicated the process in an online resource.
All game information, including kick off times, location (with postcode and route finder), fixture lists and any other relevant match information was now available on the website. Should training be cancelled or moved, the information appears instantly on the website and players/parents can now see the changes. This has made for smoother operation within the Centre of Excellence as regards locations and times. This has now become a central resource for information relating to the Centre and has a growing user-base within the parent/player community.