A Small Advance But GRNSW Still Shooting Itself In The Foot

There is no end to the story of sectional times. Publicity in Australian Racing Greyhound has not only led to the recovery of Casino 411m sectionals on the GRNSW website but also to the return of Grafton 407m and Lismore 420m times. They have all suddenly re-appeared in the last week. Great stuff! Thank you.

Of course, none of them have got around to detailing which dog was responsible for these times so we still have to guess there. Still, it’s a lot better than Bulli (none at the moment) or Maitland (leaders only, whoever they are). The shorter races at some circle tracks can also be a problem.

Meanwhile, despite several requests, Tasmania (which means Racing Services Tasmania) is continuing its ridiculous practice of assigning the best sectional to the winner in every race – regardless of whether it led or not. GRNSW results (on behalf of Tasmania) simply repeat the information without checking. This means that national records, or those in any other state, will end up copying this misinformation in future formguides and punters will be none the wiser. Simultaneously, the actual leader will get no credit. This is data corruption at its worst. How crazy can you get?

Looking objectively at this situation, it’s hard to come to any other conclusion than that the NSW system and the culture are just not geared to looking after customers as a group. Tasmania and Queensland are no better. So we have NSW battling a parliamentary inquiry, Queensland’s previous administration under fire in the courts, the current one making no attempt to gain customers, and all three states in need of cash to fund needed improvements, or even to survive. The two sets of circumstances may not be coincidental.

The NSW formguide history is instructive. When NSW decided to upgrade its system a few years ago (and later take over deFax) it hired a Canberra-based consultancy to do the job. Surveys forms went out to many people on the GRNSW email list and they were later asked to comment on draft versions. No doubt the majority of those respondents would have been trainers.

I did not make it onto the consultant’s list even though I had a registered email address at GRNSW and probably used Australian formguides as much as anybody in the country.  No matter, I heard about the task and asked to be included.

Unfortunately, although the consultants were said to be “experts” in racing, their actions suggested otherwise. For a start, they called a simple list of runners a “formguide” option. They also said strange things in correspondence with me.

In the event, out came the new guide looking more like an entry for an art prize than a practical document for punters. It still is. This is not unusual, in my own experience, amongst website designers who are besotted with flowery presentations which add nothing and do no more than slow down their passage through the internet. Protests were ignored.

Consequently, today’s product contains a good deal of information that would be better offered via separate query (see the WA guide for an excellent example), extra space is taken up by colourful backgrounds and heading blocks while the font used for essential information – like formlines – is far too small for easy reading and hopeless in poor light.  In short, it is too long and it is not user friendly. And it will never fit in your back pocket.

Maybe the heavy influence of trainer comment, or non-comment, was influential. Yet, over decades of involvement in racing I have noted it is rare to find a trainer that actuallyuses a formguide. Certainly, they read them but they don’t try to study or massage the information as a serious punter might. And do they print out the vast quantities of paper each meeting requires? I doubt it.

On top of that, it is impossible to obtain computer-readable data from GRNSW, even for race results, as is true in Victoria. GRNSW has purposely stopped that happening. The fact that we still can’t find out which dogs ran the sectional times further emphasises that defensive attitude.

Anyway, not only was the consultant failing to consider the needs of genuine customers, but so was GRNSW ignoring the potential to increase its influence and attract more business by putting out a competitive product that people could really use. That’s the real waste. It’s a management problem.

The solution? Dump the existing formguide and start again, using GRV or National Tabform versions as examples. Make the states tell each other about sectional times. And start talking to customers.

 

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