Re: Electronic Forms and the BSA
Todd Tingblad (TINGBLTN@CNSVAX.UWEC.EDU)
Wed, 21 Jun 1995 09:05:22 -0500
As I read this thread, I look back that it was almost six months ago that the
Computer Consultants Committee of Indianhead Council met with Mr. John
Connor, new Director of Information Systems at the BSA National Office.
Mr. Connor told our group that the reinventing the wheel in the computer
world does not make since for BSA. The usage of "canned" packages is the
correct route to made the "Electronic Scouting" work. Indianhead has a prime
example for Friends of Scouting campain. We do not use the BSA SME software
module, we use the same software that the American Red Cross uses (along with
others) from a thrid party. Since using this software, we have increased our
income from FOS at a greater rate than was seem when we were using the BSA
As much as possible, off-the-shelf software is the route that needs to be
taken. However, not just one package of brand. His example was the Tax
Software on the market today. Sometime down the road here, a set of
standards will be created to support the forms we all use in scouting so that
these form standards can be used by third parties in their software.
In time, with some form of approval process, software vendor can have their
electronic forms transformed into approved BSA forms. This is just like the
Tax Software vendors do. Hopefully in time, we will see RECHARTERING as part
of these packages with uploading and downloading of the information from the
council databases running on the national office HP UNIX systems. Maybe
even, someday, on-line School Night registrations...WOW!
96% of Mr. Connor's staff is for writing and maintaining the National
Office's data processing needs. The business software designed to run just
the national office. At the Jan. 95, only 5 programmers were assigned to
work on information systems related to council operations.
Also this past year, BSA changed their Accounting System. Bringing up this
new accounting system has been a nightmare. Councils have received, almost
weekly, new version of the accounting package to fix bugs from this in-house
written software. All programmers were put on the project, so very little
has been done in any other areas, including setting standards for forms and
data uploads and downloads.
A Good Sign:
Mr. Connor did tell the Indianhead Council group that he will continue to
visit and look for locally developed solutions to Council Operations using
computers. These solutions need not just be for council operations, but unit
to council communicates too. Indianhead Council has taken on the task of
developing a Data Warehouse from the national database to include things like
levels of training, membership tracking from Cub Scout through Adult, and
advancement tracking. These are only the start.
So go ahead and develop those "bullet-proof" solutions. Your solution may be
the one solution that could help all of us in Scouting to deliver the program
better, without adding to the paperwork monster we all have to take on today.
There are people at the National Office that do have the vision of what this
tool we call the computer can do for all of us. There is hope and
surprisingly enough, it is also in the National Office, too.
Todd Tingblad -- TINGBLTN@UWEC.EDU
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City