Online Scout Manager

What is it?

You may be surprised but when you collect your children for their meeting, the night is only half way over for the section leaders. There are a myriad of records that need to be kept up to date and it can take a good 3 hours each week. As we are all volunteers, this puts an additional burden on us when we still have our day job, families and organising more activities to get on with.

To make record-keeping easier we have for a number of years been using Online Scout Manager (OSM). We are currently trialing MyScout, an add-on system that allows you to sign up and pay for camps and events by direct debit. We may, if the trail is successful, extend the system to subscriptions. There is a movie at the bottom of the page to show you all the features.

Is Online Scout Manager safe?

We are content that OSM is as safe as it can be.

  • Access to the personal data on the system is limited to the leaders who use long and complicated passwords.
  • All communication with the site is over SSL, so the information you see and send is encrypted and can’t be intercepted.
  • The web-server/database are hosted in a datacentre in London. The database is constantly replicated onto a backup machine, and system-wide database backups are taken hourly, weekly and monthly.
  • Passwords are hashed in the database (i.e. they not stored in plain text and it is impossible to reverse-engineer). Parents can only reset their password if they have access to their email address.
  • Parents will only have access to their own child’s personal data.
  • Leaders are given appropriate levels of access to the individual parts of the system.
  • All the code has been written in-house by the Southampton company Online Youth Manager Ltd, there is no third party code with potentially known exploits.
  • No personal information is shared with the Group Website.

So what do the parents get access to? How does it work?

On joining we use the name, date of birth, parents e-mail address and sets the young person up on the system. The parent is then sent a secure e-mail link to the site and has the option of setting up their own user name and password so they can log in at any time. If you choose not to register, emails out by section leaders will contain a personal link to the relevant activity. Once logged in the parents can see a ‘Noticeboard’ giving messages from the leaders. Along the top of the page are links to Payments, Events, Programme, Badges and Personal details. There is also an ‘Account’ button for changing passwords.

What does each bit of the parent page do?

Lets go through them one at a time. It’s really not complicated and you don’t even need to remember any passwords as you can log in through the secure link sent out in notification e-mails from the Section Leader.

Programme

This is what’s coming up in the next few weeks. It tells parents, and young people what to expect. The upcoming programme entries and events are also now displayed on the programme pages of the Group Website. The programme also ties in with a register held by the Leaders so we can keep track of who was present on a particular day and which badges are being worked on.

Events

Now to the good stuff…. All new events will be e-mailed out to you with a secure link. No more letters home to be lost! If you are logged on clicking on ‘Events’ brings up a list of current events on offer for your Son/Daughter. It gives you the option of saying if they want to attend and gives you all the details of the event. The times dates and costs are all there. If you click on attending, and then change your mind you can always back out before a ‘closing date’.

 Payments

This is one of the biggest bug bears for Leader is collecting and processing payments at the start and end of the meeting. With nearly 300 young people, its a nightmare for our Treasurer too! Just imagine if you could pay for an activity or event without looking for loose change or trying to find a cheque book or a fiver just as you are about to leave for a meeting….

Here’s the beauty of this system. All events and activities over the next few months can now be paid online. When you first go to make a payment you will be asked for some bank information to set up a direct debit. You don’t need to enter these again. If your son or daughter wants to go on an event you can click on the ‘pay now’ button (just like e-bay) and the money will go into the Scout Group account. The Online Scout Manager uses ‘Go Cardless’ to manage the transaction but it is totally secure, covered by the direct debit guarantee and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The only person who can make a payment from your account is YOU. We will of course continue to accept cheques or cash, but our preference is for online payments.

Badges

What have they got and where do they go…. Keep track of all badges gained, what’s left to do and once earned where do they go. As some of the activities we do can count against multiple badges OSM makes sure nothing gets missed. It’s quite possible a young person can get a badge without even realising they’ve done it if the leaders get the combination of activities right!You’ll also get an email when a badge is awarded.

Personal Details

Once you have given permission for us to hold your son/daughters personal data it goes here. There is nothing we don’t already hold, but this is quicker and easier for us to contact you if we need to. You can uodate it at any time if you move house, change phone number or your child’s medical details change.

The Future

We realise this is a new way of going about our business, but our business is Scouting, not administration and with a workload of several hours a week the old way of doing things was taking too long. This way we can focus more on the fun things like camps, trips and events.

Should you have any queries about this new system please can you contact us using this link.

My.SCOUT from Ed Jellard on Vimeo.