Why Golf Victoria outsources their IT services and what it means to their business
Brought to you by owner of Network Overdrive, Greg Clarkson, our Taste of Technology video series brings real life case studies of Australian businesses direct to you. Discover how other businesses are utilising managed service providers to help grow their business.
Greg: Okay. Well, welcome to Network Overdrive’s Taste of Technology series. My name’s Greg Clarkson. With me is Brian from Golf Victoria. Welcome.
Brian: Thank you very much. Great to be here.
Greg: It’s exciting to have you at one of these things and it’s exciting to be at a golf club.
Brian: Yeah it’s fantastic. It’s a great golf club, lot of tradition here, and it fits in beautifully with our organization.
Greg: What I would like to do is just spend some time for you to talk about what is Golf Victoria, what do you do, and how do you do it.
Brian: Okay. Well, we’re basically a non-for-profit organization. We’ve been around as a joint body for only about six years now, but both the male and female organizations are well over a hundred years old. They merged six years ago to become Golf Victoria. And as I said, we’re a non-for-profit organization and our role is the state body of golf. So basically, our role is to look after all golf courses in Victoria, whether it be governance, whether it be rules of golf, handicapping. There’s a myriad of different things that we do, including tournaments.
Greg: That’s right and you have a major one every year, is that correct?
Brian: We do. The Victorian Open, which is a state championship. So that’s a combination of “open,” meaning open to professional golfers and amateur golfers alike.
Greg: How many people would attend that sort of a tournament?
Brian: Are you talking spectator?
Greg: Both. Like in terms of participants and…
Brian: During the four days of the tournament, around about 20,000 plus people or spectators would turn up at 13th Beach down on the Bellarine Peninsula. Fantastic location. We moved there around three years ago and it’s an absolute winner. It’s a perfect time of year to go down to that area.
Greg: And how many people work in the organisation?
Brian: Our organisation, full-time, 25 staff members in the office. We also have six Regional Development Officers that actually work out in the field.
Greg: And some of those would be focused on the tournament, like you describe, and others would be focused on training or development for people?
Brian: The organisation is broken up into different areas. So we have an Events Team, we have a Development Team. Now, the development could be junior development or adult development. The Regional Development Officers, they work directly with country golf courses. So their role is to assist those golf courses in all areas.
Greg: Fantastic. And what’s your role in this organisation?
Brian: I get all the boring stuff. So my job is Business and Technical Services Manager. So I look after external contractors, such as yourselves, Telstra and all those interesting ones. But the technical side is more rules of golf, course rating, working with golf clubs on their governance so…
Greg: Yeah, because for me, technical means technology, but for you it’s about how to do a golf swing.
Brian: Not so much. It’s more the technical aspects of the handicapping system and how it works in the golf club environment. So, I might work with a golf club on their rating of their golf course. And that doesn’t mean it’s the most popular golf course, it means it’s a technical side of the business whereby we’re allocated a number. And it’s so the handicapping system will work.
Greg: Okay. So, I wanna ask about technology itself, computers and IT. How does Golf Victoria use technology at the moment?
Brian: Well, at the moment, every staff member would use a computer. So we can’t escape it. We have an interesting mix of staff members. So from very young to my age. And none of those are technical in the sense that they don’t specialize in technology. They’re golfers, as such, and so they can use technology and they need to in their day to day work. So as I said, we use computers every single day. We’d be in real trouble without them.
Greg: Yeah. So let’s list some examples of some of the challenges of technology when things don’t quite work for you.
Brian: Well all our tournament entry forms are online. So all payments, bar a very minor few, are done online. Whereas if we go back, say five or six years ago, it was all done by fax. So it was literally…
Greg: Yeah. Big change.
Brian: Yeah. Paperwork. And now it’s all done via the Internet. All our events are run through computers. All our tournaments, when we go and run a tournament, all our live scoring is done through either…it’s a real challenge at the moment, because we’re using technology through, say a handheld two-way radio system back to a central base. Well, we’d like to change it. That’s something that we’d like to look at in the future.
Greg: So although you’re embracing technology, you can certainly see ways that technology could help you even more in the future.
Brian: Absolutely. It’s changing every day from our point of view. So we’re coming from a very low base, as I said, five, six years ago. And it’s getting the staff to understand the new technology and embrace it. It’s been quite challenging.
Greg: And in my time working with you, I can certainly appreciate that different people have different needs. So you’ve got one group of people that are into multimedia because they’re doing communications and marketing. And they have to work with video companies, they have to work with online content, print media. And so they work with large files as a result. Somebody else, they don’t want technology. They’re maybe even afraid of it. All they wanna do is just get out on the road and meet people. But also, you can see ways that they need technology to do their job better. At the very least, they need email to work wherever they are.
Greg: And they need to be able to report that back for your own grants or your own planning for are they making a difference on the road, are they actually reaching out to young people, or are they working with the clubs in the way that you want them to.
Brian: Exactly right.
Greg: And they might be afraid of it or they’re not really sure how to use it.
Brian: And that’s what I was saying about earlier. We have a broad range of ages across our staff and a broad range of experience in using technology. We’re also coming from a volunteer based organization five to six years ago to now, pretty much, being staffed professionally. So, in other words, each time we employ a staff member we’re actually removing a certain number of volunteers that we’ve needed in the past to do certain roles.
Greg: Well, before the camera started you were talking about that sometimes you’ve needed IT support quick, and on one hand you’re thinking, “Oh, it’d be nice to have a local IT support,” like a local person working in your office to do that. But you don’t. How does the decision on whether to have internal IT support or outsource it, how did you come across that decision? How have you found working with a third party organization like ourselves?
Brian: The interesting part about it is, as I said, none of our staff, we don’t have a tech team as such. We have individual staff that’ll know a little bit about this and a little bit about that. We have one contractor who knows a little bit more than everybody else. So he tends to be the go-to person. But since we’ve been working with you guys, it’s been great to be able to just pick up the telephone and say, “Hey. I’ve got a problem with my laptop,” or, “I’ve got a problem with a software program,” and to be able to get tech support immediately. I did last week and it was fantastic. Within 10-15 minutes I was back online.
Greg: And sometimes, even if you have a local person, they’re not there when you need them anyway. They might be having their coffee.
Brian: It was their day off.
Greg: That’s right. So your local could be having their day off or sick.
Brian: Yep. And this was at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. So it was fantastic. Everyone else’s knocked off and going away for the weekend but it was great to be able to pick up, call, and get someone at the other end who could help me.
Greg: Well, it’s been a fantastic pleasure for us to be working with Golf Victoria and I see you as a very innovative organization, which is why I wanted you to be on this series. That, yes, you’re coming from a non-profit volunteer base but you have an understanding of how technology can make your volunteers and your professionals lives easier. It can make the golfers, their enjoyment of golf better. And it’s been a pleasure to see that evolution as you’ve gone through it.
Brian: Thanks, Greg.
Greg: Thank you for your time.