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My.scouting now a full service application system

One of my “hats” professionally is as a Product Owner. It means, among many other things, making the products user experience sensible. I don’t think it’s dreaming, I think it’s something the existing team doesn’t have enough of yet or is still working to improve. :wink:. I see evidence of the discipline evolving.

The logic of how we got here that you laid out @SageLichtenwalner makes sense.

More than a forum, an issue queue for ongoing work - tied to a git repo would be very helpful imho.

Honestly, it is mind-boggling that this is not the normative approach already for the last 20-30 years since going online. The Recharter system is 19th century organizational theory being done with 20th century technology. Recent steps are in the right direction, but so much would be so much easier at all levels if this model were embraced.

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I see what you’re saying. But how would that work for units that pay the registration fees? Or ensuring units have the minimum required to recharter? Are you also proposing the bsa going away from the concept of a chartered organization? Getting their agreement is part of the process too.

Certainly, there are ways to make it better, but there are some key issues that’d need to be resolved.

I think there are a few things that can easily be improved if they chose to. They goal should to not have a system that requires a 30 min training or any paper forms. The Girl Scout one is just so easy, they don’t even talk about it much.

  • The website is just poorly executed.
  • Why have a new logon each year? The key 3 should just get access.
  • No new members during the recharter. Those should be done online before recharter if they are necessary for the charter, or afterwards.
  • The chartered org rep should just be able to sign online. Our council is still requiring a signed charter agreement. Crazy.
  • The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing. The online registration for adults includes the wording for the extra background check document. Yet, they still forced us to get signed documents for the 3 new adults who registered online this year.

This is already an option in Internet Rechartering. It sounds like your council might be choosing not to use it.

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One thing to keep in mind is that not every jurisdiction treats digital signatures the same way, nor the same way for all purposes. It is possible that digital consent to a background check may be sufficient in some jurisdictions but not in others, or for some “levels” of check but not for others.

I agree that a lot of things about the BSA application process can be streamlined, but it’s not clear to me that they’re always the same things in all locales/for all chartering organizations.

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The Recharter process as it is now is one of the primary frustrations for our volunteers. I’ve had more unit leaders quit over the absurdly complicated way we process paperwork and manage data than over anything else.

Say an individual registers with BSA. They should have one lifetime member number. They should be able to complete the registration, authorise background checks, and complete training online via the same portal. They should then be able to indicate, in that same form, which position(s) they will have. Any new position they get, any transfers, any changes at all, should all be processed online via the same portal. Paying dues, same portal. Transferring to a new council, adding district and council roles, etc. all in the same place. Authorized users can also add people to new positions, once registered, or accept it if an individual has indicated a new position. Transfers should be instant, and not have to wait 6-9 months for the recharter process to catch up to reality. OUr data is useless 3/4 of the year.

Example: if someone is registered as an ASM in a local troop, and then gets appointed to the district committee, either the ASM can log on, click a button that says “add position” and indicates the appropriate new position, and is done. The District Chair then gets a notification and can approve or deny it. Alternatively, the District Chair can go into the system, click a button that says “Add committee members” and assign any registered adult in the district. No muss, no fuss, no paperwork. All online.

The COR could similarly and simply be able to approve any unit volunteers with the click of a button - no reason for complicated and burdensome recharter process as it is now.

If there are units that pay member dues, it should not be difficult to make that an option within this system. Various ways it could be done - maybe the unit is assessed once a year for any members registered. Maybe they have it set so individuals registering with that unit don’t see any member fee info.

As for the charter itself, no reason that it a) include individual names of members since that is all in the system already by virtue of registration/transfers or b) require anything more than the click of a button to renew, either. A chartered organization can fill out the forms online, be approved as a charter org, and renew the charter annually if needed, by simply clicking a button on their account page that says “yes, we continue to recharter - here is our IH and COR contact info”.

We waste hundreds of man-hours between October and March dealing with recharter nonsense when it could all be done easily with technology that has been readily available in for decades. We have people move out in July, but the data doesn’t reflect changes in positions, membership, training until March, so any report on who is trained or who is even present in district or council is out of date for most of the year.

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I’ve either done or shared the load on my pack’s recharter for the last six years. I’ve never spent hours and hours on it. Last year was probably the worst with needing the extra CBC authorizations.

I think you’re over looking some new frustrations that could come with your proposed process. When you get to Jan 1, and you haven’t had the requisite number of adults and youth complete the online individidual renewal, your unit will cease to exist. Or what if you all pay, but you COR/IH refuses to sign their annual agreement? In both cases, what happens to the money individuals paid?

Assuming you get past both of those situations (as most will), a more common situation is that some individuals won’t complete their individual only renewal by Jan 1, and they’ll trickle in throughout the year. You’ll have to keep checking every week to see if they are allowed to participate with your unit or not.

Further, you would also be asking your COR to log in multiple times for each position change instead of a single time for all of them.

I’ll also add that with the number of duplicate member IDs out there, trying to get everyone to log into the correct account to complete their renewal will certainly add to the frustration and time spent spinning your wheels.

There are probably other reasons for the current process too. The challenges to your proposals may or may not add up to more time and frustration than the current system, but either way, they need to be considered.

One other thing you mentioned was dropping scouts. The way the bsa sees it, they’ve paid for a full year of scouting. So, dropping them completely off a roster would be removing them from a service that they paid for mid-term. I think having an inactive flag that could be set would be a more likely solution to that.

Like I said before, I agree that there are improvements that could be made. There could definitely be a better UI. I don’t understand why it takes so long for the council to process. And a lot of paper could certainly be eliminated.

I do think one of the biggest challenges to transitioning to a better system would be figuring out how to synch duplicate member ID numbers - as figuring out how to synch individuals who have had multiple Council-issued id numbers is an issue now. But then, it would be a one-time fix (albeit on larger scale), now, it’s a recurrent problem (albeit for fewer individuals).

But I think some of these other new concerns would be dealt with in the change of paradigm itself. Instead of thinking how to fit the current model into newer technology, we have to change the model in its entirety, by focusing on individual membership rather than organizational charters.

That is not to say do away with the charters entirely, but to always go back to the individual Scout or Scouter registering and being registered with BSA as the fundamental operative focus.

When you get to Jan 1, and you haven’t had the requisite number of adults and youth complete the online individual renewal, your unit will cease to exist. Or what if you all pay, but you COR/IH refuses to sign their annual agreement? In both cases, what happens to the money individuals paid?

Refunds are not difficult. However, the important thing is that the Scout/ers are registered. If an org decides to stop chartering a unit, there are ways to find a new one or transfer scouts to another unit, or put them in Lone Scout status, or default to a virtual unit in the interim. To send them an auto message that this particular unit is going offline in three months and they need to find a new one, whatever. This issue shouldn’t really affect whether a Scout/er is registered, just where.

Further, you would also be asking your COR to log in multiple times for each position change instead of a single time for all of them.

I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Important is that data is up-to-date. Positions change throughout the year, not just on an annual cycle. If that reality is not reflected in the data management system, then it is pointless to have and we rely on excel spreadsheets and shadow databases instead. CORs should be engaging at least monthly with the Key-3, so it’s no big ask to log on, click a button, and log off - and certainly less cumbersome than the recharter process for them.

The way the bsa sees it, they’ve paid for a full year of scouting. So, dropping them completely off a roster would be removing them from a service that they paid for mid-term. I think having an inactive flag that could be set would be a more likely solution to that.

Sure - they have paid to be registered with BSA for the year. But if they move in June, there is no reason they should still be showing up in the system until the following March, which is what we have now. And that’s only when it works like it is supposed to. Sometimes they linger a year beyond that!

Better that as soon as someone moves, they can be transfered out - ideally to a new unit in a new council without anything more than the click of a button, but if into some transfer limbo (or temp. Lone Scout status or whatever) while they find a new unit, that’s better than false data clogging the rolls.

This is perhaps more significant an issue with adult volunteers than Scouts. Just try getting a training chair to run a ‘trained unit leader’ report and find anything useful when 1/3 of the names that appear haven’t been anywhere in the Council/District for months. Or any other use of the data system. So much better if the data is accurate to within 24-48 hours, rather than 9-18 months.

But, I acknowledge getting from here to there, wherever it ends up being, is a lot of work that, even if it should have been done decades ago, is now facing unique and significant challenges to time and resources. I’m grateful for the moves BSA is able to make, especially toward eliminating paperwork and increasing data efficiency and accuracy.

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I’m not sure that’s true for a company that’s going through bankruptcy.

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