I'd like to open a discussion about maintaining data and what is the most efficient, most effective method of doing so. I'm not necessarily looking for specific solutions to specific problems, but rather a general discussion about what people do and how they do it. We went to this system in an attempt to reduce the amount of data manipulation and transcription, and in some ways it has helped, but in some ways it has made it worse. This is NOT specific to AXti.me - adding any other data management system to the mix would have created the same issues (or likely worse).
Here's our current setup:
Online preregistration via Motorsportreg.com
Permanent Number logging via MSR
On-site registration and check-in via physical info cards ~> AXti.me
Timing/scoring via Farmtek connected to AXti.me
Results publishing via RM Live and club website/newsletter
Not everyone preregisters; we get walkups. Some are first-timers with us, some are not. Right now we are handling on-site registration via a small information card that contains driver, car, and class data. Preregisters get pre-printed cards, to check for accuracy while walkups get blank cards to fill out. After passing tech, being assigned a workstation, and paying, drivers return their cards to the tent. There they are checked into AXti.me by looking up existing drivers or creating new ones as required. Although it seems a little odd in the computer age, this system works very well. It also provides physical redundancy (in case of massive system failure) with very little wasted effort.
The issue for us comes in managing the mountain of data collected. Right now there are 3 major containers / sources of data that theoretically need to be synchronized:
- Excel spreadsheet of attendees and results (used for a variety of purposes)
The main items of data are:
- Driver name
- Car info
- Car class
- Car number (unique by event, permanent by season)
- Driver contact info
- Club membership status
- Emergency contact info
- Event results
Event results are the easiest to handle. I use the 1-click publishing option via RM Live immediately after the event, then export to Excel and do some legibility formatting before publishing via PDF to our Club's website and newsletter. Honestly this part used to take the most time but now takes the least. Three cheers for automation.
What really takes time is getting the attendee data input and sanitized in AXti.me and then shared with the other major containers.
The highest priority is getting the car numbers organized. We use unique-by-event numbers. First use of a number reserves it for a given driver until the end of the season. At the end of the year, all non-Club members get dumped from the reserved list and members get to keep their numbers year to year. This info needs to get back into MSR as quickly as possible after each event so that new preregisters for future events don't accidentally take a number that was reserved by a walkup using it at the previous event.
In order to do that, I need to create an MSR account for each and every attendee we have, because MSR won't just let me block out a given number without assigning it to someone. My hope is that these people will eventually start using MSR, but of course, hope springs eternal.
Minimum info required for MSR is name, car number, and email address. Active users, of course, can enter lots of other information. That info, unfortunately, is out of our control. Even if we try to sanitize it, the user can and will write over it whenever they want and I really do not want to get involved in policing that.
Which, unfortunately, means that I really can't use the AXti.me/MSR import tool. If I do, the uncontrolled MSR data overwrites my sanitized AXti.me data, or, even worse, creates a duplicate driver because of slight differences. So my plan going forward is to basically look at the MSR preregistration names and then manually add those names to a future event by looking them up in my clean AXti.me data via the Lookup Driver / Add Driver buttons on the registrar's screen on the day before the event.
After the event, I also have no real vehicle for getting the driver name / email / car number data compiled from AXti.me back into MSR to populate the reserved numbers list, other than to do it manually. On top of that, I need to export that same data to Excel, so I can maintain a master list of reserved numbers and membership status that is printed out for use in assigning available car numbers to walkups. It's also used to verify membership status since club members get a $5 fee discount over nonmembers.
So as you can see, there is a lot of data that needs to be sanitized, synchronized, and moved back and forth. I'm trying to minimize the amount of data to be audited, as well reducing the amount that has to be manually transcribed from one container to another.
How are you guys handling this? I know I'm not alone in facing this task, and while I admit to being on the OCD/anal side of the spectrum, I also don't want to reinvent any wheels.