AERA is pleased to be able to provide our Division Associations and their members with an update on progress with the development of the AERA Online Nomination System.

The major development activities have now been completed and initial system testing was conducted by the AERASpace Database Subcommittee.  This was undertaking in an agile approach with pieces of functionality being implemented and tested quickly providing a loop back option for our developer to quickly resolve issues before releasing the new version for additional testing.  Testing was conducted on the front end website where riders (both members and non-members) will be able to enter and submit their ride applications using the direct integration with the AERASpace database to provide data entry minimisation. 

This linkage will also provide the ability to display a number of warnings to the riders (or trainers submitting nominations for their teams) where issues arise, i.e., membership lapsed, horse registration not current, etc. These issues can be dealt with by the rider prior to attendance at the ride reducing any likelihood of not being able to start in the planned ride. 

We have now conducted our User Acceptance Testing (UAT) process.  We invited a number of people to participate including:

  • Trish Smith (Tas)
  • Sandy Little (Vic)
  • Kim Stephens (NSW)
  • Melissa Bright (SA)
  • Deb Symington
  • Jane Radny (WA)
  • Kim Moir (Qld)

Our testers, who are Ride Organisers and/or riders, were provided with test sheets on a set of functionality that we wanted them to test from a usability point of view as well as looking for defect identification.  The test sheets gave an overview of the functionality and minimalistic definition of the steps required to complete each task.  Our testers then recorded their impressions of the system and provided feedback on ease of use.  The testers also listed any defects found.  A short online training session was provided to introduce the functionality to our test team.  AERA would like to thank our test team for their assistance with the Online Nomination System project.

The feedback we got was overwhelmingly positive and there are a few eager people who want this system to be brought into use as soon as possible.  Our testers found some defects and provided suggestions on functionality and process improvements.  None of this was show stopping and all pretty much as expected.  There is so much benefit gained from having fresh sets of eyes looking over the work and doing things that people who have been immersed in the product for a longer period of time would not do due to over-familiarity. 

The Ride Organisers were able to immediately grasp the significant savings they will achieve from use of this system by not having to manually enter the ride entries.  Instead of processing lots of paperwork at the ride (or in the week leading up to the ride), the Ride Organiser will now be simply reviewing the nominations, ensuring that those nominations with any issues are dealt with and then transfer the nominations into entries very quickly.

Traction is also beginning to be made from the payment gateway aspects.  Delays have been experienced with AERA’s banking service provider as we needed to set up a new bank account requiring physical (not digital) signatures on the same piece of paper.  When there are four signatories in four different states that takes a bit of time to achieve.  This process has been completed.  AERA has also now been able to complete their Merchant ID application and are awaiting approval on that process.

A further application for waiving of a monthly participation fee has been made and has had initial approval at this stage.  The waiver is achievable as AERA is classified as a Not for Profit organisation.  While this fee is not huge it does help AERA achieve cost reduction on an annual basis. 

The next application process is for the PayWay facility itself.  This takes 2-3 weeks for the approval to be completed and will allow us to establish the payment gateway.  Work has already been done on the AERASpace side to accommodate the linkage into the nomination website and it is not expected that there will be much in the way of time spent doing the connection and undertaking the appropriate level of testing.

The final tasks after this testing phase is completed will be the identification of some rides at which a live trial can be conducted, conducting the trial and then reviewing the outcomes to identify if there is any remedial work to be done.  Some expressions of interest have been received already for the trial.  The final step in the process is to go live and make this system available for use.  Use of the AERASpace Online Nomination system will not be mandatory and it is up to each Ride Organiser to determine what product they wish to use. 

AERA have also approved the first step in the next major development for the AERASpace system – Membership Renewal.  As much of the required infrastructure is in place this is a logical next step in making AERASpace much more accessible to our sport and providing the membership of all states with an easy to use process for renewing their memberships and updating their contact details.  Direct linkage to the database provides renewal with minimal entry requirements, there is less paper handling for our busy registrars and manual data entry for memberships becomes redundant allowing focus on other important tasks.

For any further details on the Online Nomination System please contact:

Linda Tanian
AERA Database Sub-committee
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