Farewell to UVTS

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At the 2014 National Annual Meeting, many commissioners had the chance to preview the new Commissioner Tools while it was still being tested. At the 2015 National Annual Meeting, we will celebrate both the successful transition of all councils to Commissioner Tools and the retirement of the Unit Visit Tracking System (UVTS).

Some of you may recall that prior to the initial launch of UVTS in 2007 we did not have a national method for logging and monitoring commissioner–unit interactions. While some councils had local solutions for tracking commissioner unit “visits,” most estimates of how well commissioners were doing on unit visits were widely overstated. As the council commissioner for one of the largest councils in the BSA, I can recall telling my then-Area Commissioner Fran Hensen in one of her monthly conference calls that by my estimate 80 percent of the council’s units had been visited by a commissioner in the previous month. Wow, was that an unintentional exaggeration! At the end of 2014, our collective national UVTS visitation rate was only 17.8 percent—and that was not based on the goal of visiting our units at least monthly as I was taught long ago in Commissioner Basic training; that 17.8 percent value is based on a visit every other month.

While UVTS had its limitations—as does any computer program of its size—one of the first things UVTS demonstrated was to prove the adage that “What gets measured is what gets done.” Another thing UVTS did for many of us was to force us to learn how to operate in a changing technological world, one in which some of our commissioners have home Internet service providing 50 to 500 Mbps of data while other commissioners still don’t have a home computer. Additionally, UVTS taught us how to discriminate between a “significant contact that results in actionable information” and a social interaction, and what are some of the things that commissioners need to focus on when meeting with their units.

With the transition of all councils to Commissioner Tools, the legacy Unit Visit Tracking System is no longer required for logging entries and will be shut down. The Commissioner Tools Focus Group was aware of the fact that in some cases, commissioners have logged dozens and dozens of UVTS entries for individual units, and it would be a shame if we were not able to access that information in Commissioner Tools. Within Commissioner Tools, you can access any of the historical UVTS entries made for a unit by navigating to the Units tab. Click on the Archive Contacts button to the right of any individual unit’s header block to access all the historical UVTS entries that were made for that particular unit.

As more and more commissioners become familiar with Commissioner Tools and its current capabilities, and as a community of commissioners, we continue to make progress in two major areas: training and future enhancements and functionality. Under the leadership of Bob Hoffmeyer and Dave Fornadel, the Commissioner Tools Focus Group has created more than a dozen “Commissioner Tools How-to …” training videos of approximately five minutes or less in duration, all of which can be accessed from either the Unit Service Plan and Commissioner Tools page on the Commissioners website or from the Commissioners Training ScoutingMultiMedia YouTube playlist. These videos will be a great training aid as we add new commissioners to our ranks. Additionally, working as part of Tim Acree’s Commissioner Training Team, Dave Fornadel has already created and posted new Commissioner Basic Training material, including updates to incorporate Commissioner Tools and the Unit Service Plan, on the Commissioner Basic Training page.

The focus group is also actively working on future enhancements and functionality for Commissioner Tools. Since Commissioner Tools was first deployed to the pilot councils, we have been collecting and evaluating your recommendations and we want to encourage you to continue to submit your ideas via your council commissioner tools champion. Because we just transitioned the last councils to Commissioner Tools, it will be a while before we have a completely new release of Commissioner Tools available. However, that hasn’t stopped us from making important fixes and enhancements in the interim, with our immediate focus on improving system response time and expanding the reporting features. The Commissioner Tools Status Reports are sent regularly to your council commissioner and council commissioner tools champion, and are also available on the Unit Service Plan and Commissioner Tools page. Those Status Reports provide timely information about the maintenance and enhancement updates that are actively being worked on by the Commissioner Tools team.