During the Golf Industry Show in Las Vegas this year, the common theme of all my talks was that technology isn’t expensive anymore. We don’t have to buy high dollar software to track what is important to our stakeholders and shareholders. There are some great FREE programs out there that with a little bit of sweat equity, you can produce some solid documentation of costs on your golf course.
Below is a guest blog from Jason VanBuskirk, Class A Superintendent from Stow Acres Country Club in Stow, MA. Jason describes in his post, how he began utilizing Google Forms to track his Labor. If you have any questions Jason invites you to contact him. Also look for some great resources on iTurf Apps. If you have an innovative use of technology on your golf course, let us know. We would love to have you as a guest on iTurf Apps
In the winter of 2009/2010, I found myself wondering how many hours were put into each task on the golf course. After meeting with the owner and understanding that labor budgets needed to be tightened down, I didn’t really have any data points to draw from. Where could we cut without having a negative impact on the golf course? Even though this question could be answered after analyzing the daily activities, it would be much easier if I had data. So, I decided to design a simple form that each hourly staff member could fill out each week.
The staff had their own mailboxes where they kept these sheets, and at the end of each week, I would collect all of the sheets and spend approximately an hour inputting all of the data into a “master” sheet in Excel. Though this was a grueling effort, it really helped me figure out the labor input on our 36-hole facility. It also helped me be able to make a pretty accurate projection for my labor budget because I was able to record the exact hours worked by individual employees.
Now some may be wondering why I just didn’t go out and purchase Trims or a similar software. At the time, I felt as though it was too much of a program than I actually needed. And, just like any software, it requires manual input. So, I decided to get crafty with many excel spreadsheets. After doing it this way for two seasons, manual input and upkeep got tiresome.
I was starting to lean toward looking at software again, but didn’t want the input and certainly knew I couldn’t pass valuable data like this off to someone else to input. So, in December, I went to my equipment manager who originally went to school for computer science and asked him to help me build a database. Again, we had to do this as cheap as possible, but we wanted a way that would eliminate manual data input, and would still create the same information that I had been able to gather in 2010 and 2011. He turned to OpenOffice.org and created a very useful database for free.
Although this database looks nice on the computer screen, it is very stressful, as OpenOffice.org is not a very stable program. Every time we tried to run a backup, the database file would crash and erase most of the input from the previous few days.
Last week, I began searching for database software so we could add some stability and accessibility to the data. Accessing the data from other devices was a little clunky as we needed to utilize the LogMeIn client to access the screen and data. The software proved to be very expensive and way more than I needed. After talking with my mother-in-law, who is a computer lab teacher, she suggested I try Google Forms. I could not be more impressed with the ease, cleanliness, data entry, and stability it offers. It also allows for the data to be accessed from the iPhone, iPad, and generally anywhere because its not sitting on the desktop of a computer, but in the cloud. Each step to creating your own form is very easy and it even offers a variety of templates to choose from.