Dundee District Scout Council



Developing a new membership system

? Why are we developing a new system instead of improving the one we have already?

The current online membership system is no longer fit for purpose. It requires continual maintenance work and cannot be easily developed to include new tools. By implementing a new system we open up a range of new possibilities for The Scout Association’s membership database and can ensure it does everything local Scouting needs.

? Why is The Scout Association HQ investing in a new system?

In 2010 a requirements-gathering exercise took place to understand what members want from a membership system. This involved a wide range of members and the results showed the requirements could only be delivered by a new system.

The new membership system will add a significant amount of new tools so volunteers spend less time on the administration of Scouting and more time enjoying running Scouting for young people. It is a large project but the solution will save money in the future by cutting inefficiency. It will also provide opportunities for more effective fundraising.

? I once heard about a project called Getting IT Right – what happened to that?

You may have heard about this when the initial survey was done in 2010 to gather feedback from members. This was the first survey phase of the project. The feedback has helped shape the requirements for the new system.

The current membership system

? Does this mean we’ll have to put up with the problems we have with the existing system until the new system is ready?

We will not develop any new functionality on the current system. However, any problems you have with the current membership database can be reported to appointments.membership@scouts.org.uk. We continue to support the current system and will endeavour the provide solutions to any current issues.


Member involvement

? Have you consulted members?

Members have been constantly consulted since April 2010 and will be continued to be consulted and involved all the way through the development and rollout of the new system.

The consultation included a membership-wide survey to identify what members would like from the system. We continue to work closely with working groups of members who provide constant feedback and testing as the system is planned and developed. It is important to us to ensure the system is relevant to everyday Scouting needs, so the involvement of members at every stage is a critical part of the process.

? How can I participate in the development and testing of the new membership system?

There are several groups of members involved in the project. If you send an email stating your offer to participate, indicate your Scouting role, your County, your email, telephone number and if you have a specific interest in a certain part of the system functionality to membership.system@scouts.org.uk we will put you in touch with the chair of the relevant member group. They are looking for as many people as possible to participate in delivery of a system that meets members’ requirements.

An improvement on current systems in place locally

? How will this new system be an improvement on my current way of logging members in a spreadsheet for example?

The new system will offer a powerful set of tools members need to manage most of their scouting activities in one place. It will share access to that information with your relevant Scouting colleagues, such as GSLs, DCs and others in the hierarchy who will also have access to the same system. It will also offer a high level of security and will be fully supported by The Scout Association HQ. It will be free of charge to its users.

? I notice that Online Scout manager is advertised in Scouting magazine. I am now not sure if OSM is an “official” product or not. Is it the same thing under different names? Or is it something else entirely?

Online Scout Manager and also another product called ScoutsPlus.com are independent products being marketed to members. None of these products are official products or endorsed by The Scout Association.

Also, The Scout Assocation’s new membership system will by far exceed the range of functionality provided by Online Scout Manager or ScoutPlus.com. Because of its direct link


with membership information it will enable you to do everything you can now and much more. Also, the new membership system is owned by The Scout Assocation and it will be free to its members.

? If I currently use OnlineScoutManager (or any other system) will I be able to take my data across to the new membership system when it goes live?

We plan to create the ability to upload data from other sources – so people using Online Scout Manager and other systems should be able to download their data in a specified format and then be able to upload it to the new membership system. We will let people know when they can upload their data to the new membership system.

? A lot of people use OnlineScoutManager, which has a large user base and works. Why not support that (probably lower overall cost as well) rather than developing your own system?

OnlineScoutManager appears to be aimed primarily at Scout leaders. The Scout Association’s new membership system is aimed at meeting the needs of all adult and youth Scout members and will therefore by far exceed the range of functionality provided by OnlineScoutManager. Because of its direct link with membership information it will enable you to do everything you can do now and much more. Also, the new membership system is owned by The Scout Assoication and it will be free to its members.

? I am currently using OnlineScoutManager as do a lot of people I meet for tracking attendance, badges etc. I also have a website that pulls the information through. I find the system has been great in reducing my administration and suits our needs well. I was wondering if there were any plans to utilise the software already developed or at least have a way of synchronising information.

There are currently no specific plans to integrate the new membership system with any other stand-alone systems. We will offer a once off opportunity for you to migrate data held in other systems into the new membership system when it goes live in your County. This assumes you can download the data from the system you currently use in a pre-specified format for uploading to the new membership system.

All data held in the current (old) membership system will be migrated automatically to the new system when it goes live in your County, so it will be in your best interest to make sure all your data is correct and up to date.


Functionality included in the new membership system

? Will this mean I have to do more administration to use the new system?

No. The system is being designed to streamline many administrative tasks performed in Scouting so members will ultimately spend less time on administration and more time on Scouting. The time you spend on administration should also be much more productive. For example the system will automatically forward applications and other documents to those who need to receive them and will have an alerting function to let people know they have something to attend on the system.

? Will the new system manage badge records (e.g., by linking an attendance register to badge progress; flagging up when badges are due to be awarded etc)?


? Will the new system enable electronic registers on iPhone or smart phones?

We are investigating providing that capability at the moment and it is very likely that some of the functionality in the new membership system will be accessible through Android and iphone / iPad / Windows apps

? Will the new system manage payment of subs?

Eventually yes - but not in the first release.

? Will record sharing from Section to Section be included?

This is possible in the system but it will be determined by access policies and the permissions each member has to access data on the system.

? How easy will it be to e-mail all parents or young people?

Very easy – it is part of the functionality specified.

? How will it link to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook?

The new membership system will not directly link to any social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. However members can capture any of their personal contact details on the system, including their Twitter and Facebook contact details. However, this information will only be visible to other members who have the necessary permission to view a particular member’s details.


? How will it link to our own Group website?

The system will be accessed via The Scout Associations’s official web site and you can put a link to The Scout Association’s website on your local website

? Will it manage joining lists?

Yes – again within the constraints of The Scout Association policies and rules

? Will it manage/record adult training needs/progress?


? What IT platform will it need?

Members will access the system through The Scout Association website. That is platform and device independent – if you can access the internet you can access the new membership system.

? Can you please confirm that all current records (adult and youth) will be transferred automatically from the current to the new membership system?

Yes – it will be done as part of the migration process. Also, we plan to do some data cleansing before we migrate the data. You can help by making sure all the data you have access to is clean before we migrate your County.

? Will the use of the new system be made mandatory for youth members, as the present system already is for adults?

That is a policy issue to be decided by your line managers. Because the system offers so many benefits to Scout Leaders we believe most people will want to use it. For example if you have all your youth member data in there you can generate the census data by the press of a button.

? Will the new system end the need for the present annual census?

No – but the census will in future be generated by pressing a button – that is if your members are all on the system.

? Will the new system continue to provide bulk downloads of formatted data? We use this to create our District directory.

We are aiming to provide a directory function in the new membership system so anyone can generate a directory at any level on demand. These directories will always be up to date


because it will access the latest data on the system (assuming the membership system is updated locally).

? What admin processes will the new membership system help me with?

The scouting processes supported by the first release of the new membership include:

o The ability to maintain the organisational hierarchy, for example creating / closing / merging Sections, Groups Districts, Counties/Areas/Regions

o Creating and assigning roles

o Managing training

o Issuing, renewing and revoking permits

o Awarding and maintaining badges and awards

o Youth member joining / leaving / transfer

o Adult member / joining / leaving / transfer

o Vetting adults for becoming involved in Scouting

o Maintaining calendars and events

o Producing reports

o Providing census data

o Creating distribution lists / contact information

? What happens if we discover there is new functionality we require?

The project team is maintaining a functionality requests log. If you send us an email to membership.system@scouts.org.uk with your request it gets logged. We review these requests from time to time to check whether or not they are in scope for the current delivery. If not we will take the requests forward to be considered for subsequent releases of the system. Whatever we decide – we will keep you updated concerning your request.

Using the system

? I am not very tech-savvy and most of my colleagues don’t use computers. How will this help us?

The new system will be intuitive to use and user training and aids will be made available. There will be great time-saving benefits to using the new system so we want members to give it a try, even if you are not particularly familiar with computers.


Development update

? How is the project progressing?

IRIS NFP was appointed as the supplier to deliver the new membership system in June 2012. Many volunteers were involved in this process as part of our member working groups for this project. Those volunteers continue to advise and test as the development continues.

We have now completed the scouting process requirements definition stage and are currently involved in solution design. We expect the solution designs to be signed off by the end of February 2013. Building the Portal for those solution designs already completed has started. We are also doing a lot back-office work on configuring the data base, work flows and reports.

We plan to be ready to start rolling out the system to Counties that are ready from Autumn 2013.

? When is the new system going to be fully operational?

We plan to finish testing by the end of August 2013. From September 2013 onwards we will work with County/Area/Regional (Scotland) and Island Commissioners to migrate their data across and implement in their County/Area/Regional (Scotland) and Island from then on.

? When can my Section / Group / District start to use the new system?

The system will go live in early Autumn this year. Migration from the old to new system will happen by County. County Commissioners must manage a process between now and then to get ready to migrate. We will migrate Counties to the new system when they have sign-off that they are ready to migrate. We expect this process to go on for about year – the front running Counties migrating in early Autumn, then another batch in time for census 2014, so their census can be produced by the press of a button, and finally all the rest by June 2014.



? Will the data held on the new membership system be secure?

The new membership system is designed to be fully compliant with the UK’s data protection requirements.

Many people falsely believe that data they hold on their own computers, on paper files and other electronic devices is secure. Some new research has show that:

“Almost half of schools, colleges and universities across the UK have had laptops and other mobile ICT devices, that hold information on young people, stolen in recent years - with many failing to use encryption technology).

“56 per cent of respondents were found not to have encrypted their laptops despite being aware of the threat of a £500,000 fine from the Information Commissioner for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act.”

You can avoid all this hassle by using the The Scout Association’s new membership system.

Other questions

? What about improving the rest of The Scout Association website?

A separate project is ongoing at The Scout Association HQ to make improvements to the website.