Caerphilly Runners started in 2012 as a small group of friends who met a number of times each week to run. The group increased rapidly in popularity and numbers, so they decided to become an official running club. In January 2015 they affiliated to Welsh Athletics, and Caerphilly Runners was born. They now have over 150 members and regularly attend official running events throughout Wales and the UK. In 2016 Caerphilly Runners became Welsh Athletics’ Development Club of the year 2016-17.
However, the increase in participation and the club’s affiliation to Welsh Athletics also resulted in a substantial increase in administration. As with many clubs that are run by volunteers, many of whom are in full-time employment, it can mean that the burden of club paperwork can detract form the reason for getting involved in the first place.
Club Chair Steve Sullivan said: “We were a new club and growing fast. I found I was getting bombarded with emails and queries, it was almost like having two jobs. I'm a self-employed trainer by day, but found I was spending my evenings replying to club questions and queries. Although it’s an accepted part of the role, the big frustration was that it was the same queries that were cropping up regularly, typically on things like bank details, club membership, contacts details and committee minutes. I simply had to make sharing important club information easier.”
How did things change?
Luckily for Steve and the club, he didn’t have to look far for a solution. His full-time job as an IT trainer meant he was more than familiar with Microsoft’s SharePoint document management and storage system.
What is Microsoft SharePoint?
In a nutshell, Microsoft SharePoint is a self-built intranet site that members can access using their email address and password, once you give them permission. Like any typical web site, it can contain pictures and written information, but you can also add interactive components to it like document libraries, calendars, message boards and task lists. This gives your club members a ‘one stop shop’ to access all club related documentation and information.
Microsoft SharePoint comes free with the small business Microsoft office 365 subscription. You’ll need to initially set up your site as you require and then invite the people you want to share it with (by email). You don't have to be an IT expert to use SharePoint, it can be set up and used fairly easily by anyone with a reasonable grasp of basic Microsoft Office packages like Word and Excel.
Steve set up a club SharePoint site that contains features such as a club calendar, message board, document library, membership contact information, a kit order system and a club accounts database. Steve said, “It’s been a huge success and has drastically cut down the amount of emails we send and queries I receive. If a committee member wants to know something, they now know exactly where to find it. It also means there's one live version of each important document on the site, so we’re not constantly emailing file attachments to each other as we once did. As SharePoint links to Microsoft Office, we’ve also been able to set up a task list that directly sends people “to do” reminders after our club meetings.
What’s next for the club?
The club is still growing and is very likely to reach 200 members by the end of the year. So we’ll train more committee members to use the SharePoint site and keep adding new features as and when needed. Although all committee members can view the SharePoint site, three of the committee members have site editing rights, so it shares the load around and makes things far more manageable.
Steve’s Top Tips
- Don't try doing everything yourself. Get other members involved, there are always plenty of talented individuals only too keen to help if given the opportunity.
- Try to avoid duplication of work where ever possible. Have a frequently asked questions page on your website and try to share as much information as you possibly can on online.
- Clubs should be fun. Always remember to keep it simple and keep enjoying it.