Ballroom Dance > Competition Manager Software?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Indiana_Jay, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    I've been "invited" to serve as registrar for our USA Dance chapter's first ever competition next year. Would appreciate comments from anyone familiar with the various software packages available, including O2CM, COMPMNGR, etc. Comparative comments (benefits and disadvantages of each) would be particularly helpful. Thanks!

  2. Laura

    Laura New Member

    How big will your event be? If it's going to have less than 750 entries, you can use CompMngr for free.

    You can also use the online part of O2CM for free because you're doing a USA Dance event, but if you want PDAs for judging you will need to either buy your own (including a local server and networking stuff) and learn to run them, or fly out someone who has a set up to run them for you.

    Personally, between O2CM and CompMngr, if you're running a new comp that doesn't have a following yet, I'd go with CompMngr and do the judging using pen and paper.
  3. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Thanks, Laura. I'd hoped you'd chime in.

    That's a good question. How does one estimate how many people will show up for one's first local (although sanctioned) competition? I think the chair is expecting 100 or fewer couples, so unless we're really surprised, I can't imagine we'd have more than 750 entries.

    For our first comp, we're going to use paper forms for the judges and have the scrutineer manually enter them. Even so, O2CM seemed (based on my review of Web sites) to offer some advantages over COMPMNGR, particularly in the area of online registration. Do you agree?

    Also, I believe we have the technical expertise to set up a server and network at the comp., so even though we won't use PDAs for judges, we could, for example, automatically update the scrutineer's computer and possibly an MC's computer with check-in info from an on-site registrar's computer. Is that worth doing?

  4. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Try checking to see how big the last few Regionals that were reasonably close to your area were, and figure that your comp will definitely be smaller than that -- unless you get a couple of college teams to come.

    Yes, I like the online entry system for O2CM a lot.

    To me, yes.
  5. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    Wow, that's great news! :) Do you know when/where the competition will be held?
  6. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Competition has yet to be officially announced, so I probably shouldn't post anything publicly here yet.
  7. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Didn't you just do that? ;)
  8. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Yep, but there's a difference, I hope, between saying "some USA Dance chapter will have a new competition next year" and announcing the date, place, etc.! :)
  9. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member


    Considered PM-ing you on this, but I figure the answer might be valuable to others, so I hope you'll see and respond.

    I heard yesterday from someone who has registrar experience with both O2CM and COMPMNGR. She strongly advised against a first-time registrar (me) attempting to use either package to run a comp. Of course, her services are available for hire, so her advice might be somewhat biased. How much credence should I give it?

    I've never competed, but I've watched (carefully) several comps, including Nationals in Louisville this year and I have fairly strong computer skills, including designing and using my own relational databases.

  10. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    Well, it's really exciting news and I can't wait to hear all the details! :D
  11. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    I'm very surprised by the advice. Of course I've never used O2CM and have only briefly looked at CompMngr. I've been the "external" registrar for the vast majority of college competitions, using my CompInaBox/BallroomRegistrar service. I would definitely suggest that a first-time registrar use one of the existing packages.... There's so many things to track, so many lists, and reports needed that attempting to do it by hand, especially for a first-timer would be an accident waiting to happen and just more frustration than needed....

    I didn't chime in initially with information about my "product" because I'm trying to focus on getting a new version out that would be more useful to non-collegiate comp settings, as well as getting many needed improvements into the code-base. Hence, i've not been seeking new clients /users, but I would be willing to answer any questions you might have.

    One word of warning -- CompMngr is likely to appear frustrating to anyone with experience in relational database systems if you try to think of it in those terms.... Its underlying data modelling assumptions seem to be based much more on a network/hierarchal data model and as a result a lot of the import/export tools often seem to have a mismatch when trying to interact with home-grown/third party tools that follow a more relational model. Its nothing that's insurmountable, just need to keep the apparent design decisions in mind....
  12. Laura

    Laura New Member

    A good deal, actually, especially since you've never competed or run a comp. The thing is with both these systems is that they each have their quirks and headaches and learning how to be a Registrar while also learning learning how to use the software of choice is a lot. Even more so if you are also going to be the person who sets the schedule for the comp. I learned how to use both packages in stages, while having people around who already knew how to do the things I was learning. The first time I used CompMngr I was working with an experienced Scrutineer who had *years* of experience with CompMngr, and still I managed to mess things up and/or do things too slowly such that the comp started 45 minutes late due to my inexperience. The next comp was better (just a 20-minute mess up between sessions, due to database and printer problems), the next better still (no problems).

    So yes, if you have no experience, you are about to take on a really big deal. Still, you've got to start somewhere I guess :)

    I had all that too, and more besides (hardcore geek things like assembly language programming and language tool maintenance), but this isn't a matter of programming -- it's more of a use of tools / logistics / customer service kind of thing. What would be ideal is if you could work at a comp or two under someone else and then venture out on your own. The question is now what to do in the absence of the ideal.
  13. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Thanks much, Laura. I truly value your input and have suggested to the competition organizer that she consider finding an experienced person to be registrar. The challenge for her, I think, is that this will probably be a small comp. (being our chapter's first and being located in a medium-size Midwestern city). She probably won't have the budget to hire a registrar and there are no local volunteers who have any experience. I don't envy her, but I don't want to be responsible for any major problems at our chapter's first competition.

    Thanks again.

  14. Laura

    Laura New Member

    I don't know where in Indiana you are, but I thought the Indy chapter has run Regionals a few times, plus Nationals once about 8 or 9 years ago?
  15. BM

    BM New Member

    First off: I have absolutely no experience as a registrar.

    However, you said you're expected a very small competition. Is the organiser willing to have a more spread-out schedule to allow for potential (and I suppose in some cases, inevitable) burps in the flow of things? I know that I would prefer, as a competitor as well as a comp organiser, to have time buffers and wait around for events (or maybe even run ahead of schdule) then set up a very, very tight schedule and just ask for disaster.

    Perhaps you could try to do a "test run" to acquaint yorself with the software, if you can't find someone to work with/under in advance of the new competition.
  16. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    Indy is 2+ hours away. That's the nearest source for any experienced volunteers. I suspect our comp. organizer will have to see if any of the Indy folks will be willing (although they're setting up for regionals in 2008 and at the same time transitioning from COMPMNGR to O2CM).
  17. Indiana_Jay

    Indiana_Jay Active Member

    So I was looking over some competition management software to prepare for my possible role as registrar at our USA Dance chapter's upcoming competition. It came with a "sample" database so that people like me could see how the thing works with actual data to play with. And I was glancing down a list of competitors in pro-am heat and there was a familiar name: Fascination (but her real-life name). Apparently, she's a legend in her own time!

  18. standardgirl

    standardgirl New Member

    This question may appear to be stupid...but can someone tell me the advantage to use a commercial software (like the ones OP mentioned) vs just simplying using excel and perhaps access (if entries get large enough) for registration and scruteering purposes? Isn't the later easier for most people especially in OP's situation with a relatively small size new local compettion? There might be a couple college teams, but I can't imagine anything more than that espcially with the timing of the comp.
  19. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    Well as I see it there's several things to consider:

    Registrar duties:
    On-Line: O2CM, CompInaBox (mine), or Chen/Ily's version: offloads a tremendous amount of work from the registrar. Also greatly simplifies the updating of "heat lists" as people register which most competitors like. Back in the late 90s a lot of the colleges around here just used simple web-forms back by email scripts that fed in Excel/Access, so a person could still offer on-line registration without a lot of development time and without using one of the pre-existing solutions, but I'm not sure I see a lot utility there.

    If you combine any of the above with either PayPal or a CC gateway so you also offer on-line payments the amount of paperwork tracking is so decreased its amazing.

    Back-end Duties: invoices/payment tracking/waivers/ID numbers, printed program creation, lists for the head table/registration desk: For alot of this stuff, yes I think you could be successful for a small competition using a spreadsheet or simple database as long as you have a simple way of importing registration data, and not having to fat-finter it all yourself. While most of the commericial/semi-commercial tools can help here, I haven't seen ones with the amount of flexibility in report generation as I would truly like.

    Scheduling: O2CM, CompMngr, etc: (I'm not listing my tool since its not even beta quality yet). Juggling a schedule is tough -- while Excel is suffiicient, I suspect "beginner schedulers" are better served with a tool more targetted. I used to generate schedules for ~15 college comps a year so I was used to all the things to keep in mind and do use a simple spreadsheet. Even still it was hard to 'what-if" -- what if registrations was up by 15% how would I re-arrange stuff. What if we wanted to put all of "X" on Sunday instead of "Y" how would the schedule change. The tool I'm working on is more designed to help with that kind of question -- the organizer looking at their estimated schedules a year or so in advance to decide what to advertise initially and then the feed from registration to provide the detailed times after registration closes.

    Scrutineering: CompMngr, S3, Chester, Scrutinty3: Well to me scrutineering is different that the other competition management issues in this thread. Since you "have" to have a certified scrutineer, its not something that a competitive organizer "novice" would be trying to do on their own. And even if you were you should definitely have s/w support (and NO, you should not try to implement the skating system in Excel or Access, unless you are a certified scrutineer and really understand the rules at an almost unconscious level)
  20. avab

    avab New Member

    Let me add that, since competitors today are accustomed to almost instant recalls and results, the time it takes to do an entire comp by hand would seem enormously slow. Additionally, you would probably need 2 people to do an adequate job of scrutineering by hand (although only one would need to be certified).

    When I did small local USABDA comps by hand, I was always a minimum of 2 heats behind, just because of the transcription of marks from the judges' sheets to the scrutineering sheets. And I was thought to be fast....

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