If it works on paper, make sure it works on the field

Originally published at: TourneyCentral

I am at the 2009 NSCAA in St. Louis and the hotel bathroom is almost entirely unusable. To be sure, it is has nice shower head, the glass shelf and pedestal sink is really nice, but it all falls apart quickly with the lack of water pressure, only one plug outlet and little bottles of shampoo don’t fit on the shower shelves or the sink. In addition, there is no venting of the steam after you take a shower, a shower longer than usual because there is no water pressure.

Ironically enough, when I had a corporate job and a travel secretary, she used to book me on TWA through St. Louis. She did this because it was cheap to fly and the flight schedule showed you could get anywhere from St. Louis. Only you couldn’t. TWA was going through bankruptcy and they wanted to fill their planes as much as possible. What they never told anyone — including my secretary — was that they would get you to St. Louis and then you would sit. If the plane going from St. Louis to where you wanted to go was not full enough, they would delay it or cancel the flight. What worked on paper just did not work in real life.

She did not understand my frustration with her and it was hard to justify a flight 100% more expensive to MY boss. Then, she had an opportunity to travel to a training workshop a day ahead of me. She booked her own fight the same way she booked mine. We ended up seeing each other in St. Louis the next day as her flight was delayed. She then understood.

As with travel, hotel people should be forced to live in what they design for a week. They would design rooms a bit differently.

Our Advice: Sometimes, especially in the dormant season, a soccer tournament system works well on paper. In your mind, without benefit of frantic teams calling every hour, advertising, hotel booking systems, registration systems, etc work out well. On paper, there is always time to finish the task and move sequentially through the to do list. But when you have several hundred teams all wanting to do something at the same time, they can quickly overwhelm you, your staff and your systems.

Nothing is more especially true for a web site that has real-time scoring. If your tournament is in September, your traffic is almost non-existent in January. Some teams are checking you out, making plans, etc. but for the most part, your web site runs well. But, how will it hold up when you have parents, players and fans of 200 or more teams all wanting to know the scores during a two hour window on Saturday night?

When coming up with systems for your guest teams, make sure they are also ones that you can live with. Build your soccer tournament to expectations that you have of other people. And make sure things are usable when and where your guest teams need and want to use them.