Category Archives: General Stuff

you know, for just stuff

Best Practice advice : Rolling out Teamstuff for the Whole Club

I love building software. Thinking of new features; ways to use them – and thinking about how to help people manage both their teams and their clubs. But I’ve also noticed that you’ve also got to think about the people in your team and club if you want teamstuff to really help. And like any tool – it can be used well or used badly. And there’s a common pattern to those clubs that are the most successful – they really think about their members as they roll teamstuff out. In fact, the quick summary of those successful rollouts is;

  1. Have the authority to rollout to the entire club
  2. Communicate with your people
  3. Be firm.
  4. Share your ideas
  5. Have a Teamstuff Ambassador.

In some more detail – one of those successful clubs is South Melbourne Districts Junior Football Club here in Melbourne. I asked James Ramsden, their self-appointed Teamstuff Ambassador what worked – and what didn’t, and how they solved those issues.

I’m a big fan of Teamstuff – I’ve used it for the team I manage for a couple of years – and this helped us as a club decide to implement it across all teams. But being a big fan doesn’t automatically mean the roll out to the club will be all plain sailing. Here are a couple of tips that will help iron out the bumps and you’ll be up in no time.

First of all it’s got to be a club decision to go with Teamstuff. The committee is the power – they have to say yes and you’re guaranteed of success (even though you’ll hit a few speed humps along the way).

Secondly, some people will resist using Teamstuff. They’ve got their own way of communicating – whether it be pigeons or sending 4 million emails – you’re dealing with entrenched habits.

One of our problems during the roll out to the club was Team Managers ( TMs ) not been strong enough with parents to say NO I will not communicate via e-mail, SMS – it is Teamstuff or nothing. We now say, “If you do not use Teamstuff your son/daughter will not be selected in the team as this is how we manage team lists”. This threat was enough to get people on board.

A big push for us at South Melb Districts Junior next season is to ram that message home to coaches, TMs, parents and players.

Understanding what’s behind this resistance is important – people don’t like change. Getting them to use Teamstuff is the key – be strong that it’s the only way and that will help them get over the biggest issue which is not knowing how it works. I found that just by doing it, you work it out. I encourage any team or club to get started.

One big challenge is when you move to squads – e.g. U13 – 2 teams operating as a squad. You have kids who will sit in both teams and will be rostered on/off during the season from one team to the other – with collaboration and hopeful improvements to Teamstuff for rostering on/off it allows clubs and teams to communicate to parents no matter what team they sit in from one week to the other. It’s a challenge every week in the older age groups with player availability, illness, injury, league player movement policy, etc.

Teamstuff for clubs – an awesome platform to communicate important information/messages – brilliant that you can include sponsors on comms.

I’m a big fan of Teamstuff because it makes it easier for me (as TM) but also because the parents love it (our teams are junior football and basketball). When the parents love it, you know roll out is going to work.

Rolling out into the teams, I made myself available (as the go to person for Teamstuff issues) to all tm’s for questions. I started a group email (we set up a Teamstuff email for tm’s) so everyone could see and learn from questions that came up.

We started a few weeks before games began and by the first game, everyone was on board.

The benefits of the club version have been the ease with which club officials can communicate with all teams – and the overwhelming positive feedback from parents!

Now the season’s almost over, we don’t hear any more complaints about having to use Teamstuff, every team is on board and so is every player. And all’s quiet – and we can focus on the game! Now that’s impressive!

I’ve seen a lot of clubs rolling it out – and here’s my summary of the best practice tips to guarantee your club and your teams get all the benefits.

  1. Have the authority to rollout to the club.  Once the club hierarchy understands how the club, all the team managers and all the parents will benefit – it’s usually plain sailing from there.
  2. Communicate with your teams and clubs. People like understanding why they should change from “carrier pigeons” to teamstuff. Bring them on the journey – most will see why.
  3. Be firm. In any club, and often in any team – they’ll be a couple who will resist change. That’s not just your club – that’s every club. But that’s not your issue – that’s their issue. If one team member wanted the schedule delivered by snail mail – you’d just say no – that’s unreasonable to expect you to do all that extra work for one person. Standardise on one way to communicate to the team – it’s called teamstuff! Then be firm – we’re got one communication channel for everything – be a part of it. ( and remember teamstuff gives information to people in the way they want it – web, email, smart apps, push notifications, text messages, calendar integration, today widget. But not snail mail. 😉 )
  4. Share Your Ideas. James setup a group for easy communication of how best to use teamstuff. Great idea for your club – just like you’d share best coaching tips – it’s the same with the boring administration and communications.
  5. Have a Teamstuff Ambassador – someone who can front line most of the club’s first questions. In this case it was James – having one person who can help people through that first change – another great way to speed up the rollout. By seeing common questions specific to your club – and knowing what your club is trying to achieve means solutions can be found in the shortest possible time.

There you go – 5 best practice tips to make your club rollout as easy as possible. And lastly – big thanks to James for sharing his experiences rolling out to the entire club. It’s always nice to hear how it’s working for real people – real clubs. At the end of the day – that’s what we’re building that software for!

Get mobile with those profile pictures

Teamstuff has some big plans for the next few months. Payments, files and photos, text messaging and a big UX upgrade. But in between all the huge stuff, we like to sneak in some smaller changes. Sometimes because they’re small and important, sometimes because they’re small and fun, sometimes because they’re both. This one could just fit both categories.

OK, so what’s up? Well, the mobile platform has just had a significant upgrade on your profile pictures. We’ve done a few things all at once – we’ve got way better resolution, we’ve made the process of adding your photo super easy, and super fun. And lastly ( and you might need to be sitting down for this one )…..we’ve made the profile photos……gasp…..circular. We know – “totes OMG”. 😉

So let’s go through a couple of things. One thing – cameras on the modern phones are unbelievably good. ( I’m a bit of a photo nerd so feel qualified to make that call! ) So are the screen resolutions, and in both there’s a massive change since we launched 3 years ago. So moving to a higher resolution is a no brainer – we’re just following the real world there.

We did a fair bit of soul searching on the process of adding these profile pictures, and realised that we haven’t really made this super easy to tell teamstuff here’s a new photo – nor was it easy enough to get a decent, tightly focussed shot of you, or your child. So we’ve changed both. In this release, the mobile app gives you some pretty clear clues you might want to add a photo. In fact post login on mobile – it’s at most one tap, one swipe, one tap – and you’re updating a photo for your profile.

Icon indicating easy fast path to adding a profile photo

Icon indicating easy fast path to adding a profile photo

So that’s the first part. The second part is being able to find a decent photo of you/your child – and making sure the most important part – face – is the feature of the profile picture. And we’ve completely redesigned that from the ground up.

So you can choose to take a new photo, or use a pre-existing photo from your library. You might be surprised how useful this is – even a family shot can be easily used in the next shots to get a great profile picture. Here’s the choices as you’ll see them.

Choices as you would see them on iOS. Similar for Android.

Choices as you would see them on iOS. Similar for Android.

Find the shot within your library ( or take a new one straight from the phone ) – and now we present you with some beautiful tools to make sure you use the photo properly.

step_3_scalezoom

Use the in built tools to zoom and focus attention on the right person in a group shot

You can zoom in or out to resize, and move the photo around to highlight the right face in the photo. At the end of that, you should see the face your want, nice and large and easy to see within the circle . So it might look something like the following:

After zooming and moving to get right face into the frame

After zooming and moving to get right face into the frame

Hit save – you’ll find it at the top right, and you’ve updated your profile pic. It’s super easy – gives a great result.

And this is what new profile pictures look like.

And this is what new profile pictures look like.

The new profile picture is a whole lot better than ever – better resolution, far easier to see the details – sitting in a circle ( so 2015 ) – AND for the eagle eyed out there, you might notice we automagically will redo both your hairstyle and your makeup as you save the photo. *not all of this sentence is true.

Now – you might be wondering why we’ve done all this work. And it’s not just because we need more Taylor in our lives. Nope – there’s a reason. A really good one. But we’re not telling. Update your profile pictures, and make sure you get the next mobile release ( couple of weeks ). Because when you get that release, we think you’ll going to love how your team appears in the general landscape that is teamstuff. Go get snapping!

A little love for Android users – for your weekend mornings

Occasionally we get accused of being a little too Apple focussed here at teamstuff. I don’t really know why. We try really hard to be nicely balanced between Android and iOS. And I know this because I have a weekly reminder “Think about Android too” that pops up on my MacBook, or my iPhone or my iWatch. That’s balanced right?

So this one’s for our large and growing Android user base. Because you too are wondering about the  important things on a Saturday or Sunday morning – you too are thinking – is there enough time to get a coffee before that first game? And now you can get that answer via the Teamstuff Widget.

Super easy to install, and gives you that instant view of your upcoming day. Here’s what it looks like;

Teamstuff Widget in all its glory

Teamstuff Widget in all its glory

Straight away – you can see you have three games – the first one’s in play, the second is just over an hour and a half away, then a few hours later your last game is at 5. That’s a long busy day – and the bad news – you’d better already be at that first game! No coffee for you today.

We think best practice would be to use this first thing in the morning – but who are we to judge!  OK, now you know how useful it is – here’s what you should do to get it working.

Step 1 – Add the Widget to the Homescreen

Adding the Widget

Adding the Widget

Every Android implementation has its own ways to do this – but in general a long press in an empty part of the home screen will allow to add Widgets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find Teamstuff Widget

Find Teamstuff Widget

Find the teamstuff widget, long press and drag it out to your home screen. You’ll need a place to put it – an empty region of 4×2 cells is great.

Step 2 Using The Widget

At this point – the teamstuff widget is all good to go. It talks to the teamstuff app on your device, so it uses the same account, and gets the same list of games that you’d see on the app. Notice that by default you’ll see it showing one game at a time ( see below ). You can use the arrows to scroll through the list of today’s games.

Default view

Default view

Step 3 – Configure the Widget to Make it Bigger

So maybe you don’t want to scroll left and right- maybe you just want to see it all at once. Well here’s a nice little feature that iOS doesn’t have – you can do exactly that! You can simply tell the Widget to resize, and give it more room, and it will automatically adjust how many games it will display.

Making the Widget bigger

Making the Widget bigger

So long press over the widget, and you’ll see the adjust bars showing – as per the screen shot on the left. Use the bars to resize – and when you expand it beyond the 2 rows then it automatically alters to be a list – and you can scroll vertically on your super busy days.

Step 4 – Enjoy

And now – you have a beautiful view of your day, all easily accessible from the home screen of your device. All the information you need at your fingertips. I know. Sweet.

Teamstuff Widget in all its glory

Teamstuff Widget in all its glory

Minor Technical Details

The Widget is only available to users on HoneyComb ( Android 3.0 ) and above. Prior versions to Honeycomb have neither the honey, nor the comb required to power the widget.
And the resize is only available on Jelly Bean ( Android 4.1 ) and above.

Critical question – do I have time for….

Not sure what your Saturday morning looks like – but here’s what happens at my house. I get up around 7ish, bleary eyed and somewhat fuzzy brained. ( That’s pretty much any morning for me mind you – not a reference to a big night. I wish! ) My first coherent thought is usually something like “Crikey – must get a child to sport”, followed closely by the question “Do I have time to get coffee now? Or on the way? Or not at all.”

If the answer is “not at all”, then I’m in trouble for the day. No caffeine = bad parenting. I know, I should be bigger than that, but I’m not. Ask my wife! So honestly – the first critical question of a Saturday morning is all about me – do I get the 10 minutes I need to get a superb coffee, wake the brain up and be happy all day long for my kids? You might have your own critical question ; maybe it’s a cup of tea, or a sleep in – or time to walk the dog/go for a run/ finish your thesis. Either way, the answer is usually related to the logistics of your day – who needs to be where and when.

And of course that’s all in teamstuff. Phew! But going to the app to find that information – well that’s like soo 2014. What if there was a place just to summarise your ‘day at a glance’ – a standard place that people are already using? Well it turns out there is – introducing the ‘Today’ Widget for iOS. ( Android users – keep reading – we’re applying the same logic for you very soon! )

Here’s what it looks like;

Teamstuff's all new Today Widget.

Teamstuff’s all new Today Widget.

At a single swipe and single glance – I can see my day. I can see the first game is in 8 mins. The second one starts about the same time as the first one ends. So one parent certainly can’t do both. Plus I can see where the games are ; and since there’s about 16,500 kms between the two places – looks like today’s a pretty big logistics challenge. And finally the most critical component – there’s no time for coffee for me! It’s going to be a long day….  😦

Like it? Want to use it?

The Today Widget is a standard part of Apple’s iPhone. You get to it by single swiping from the top of the screen, and you can even do this whilst the iPhone is locked.It’s a really nice part of the iOS experience – once you start using it. OK, like most all things Apple – you have to opt in – tell the phone which things you want to see in your own personal Today screen. That’s pretty easy – here’s the 3 key steps.

In the first screen shown above – and it’s always at the bottom of the Today Widget – hit the grey Edit button. This will bring up a new view which lets you personalise your widget for you. Swipe to the bottom of this, and you’ll see all the Today Widgets that you have that you are not yet using. Somewhere in this list you’ll see the Teamstuff widget – just click on the green + icon next to it.

addwidget_highlight

Click on the green + icon to tell your phone you want to use the Teamstuff Today Widget.

The last thing is simply to get the order right.

editorder_highlight

And re-order it to the top ( teamstuff is WAY more important than Dropbox right? What do they do anyway? 😉 ) using the slider on the right.

You do that by sliding the control on the right up and down depending on where you want the Teamstuff widget to be displayed. Hint : you want it right at the top of course! 😉

We hope you enjoy using this as much as we enjoyed making it. In some ways its a small thing – we’re making your life just that tiny bit easier. But in some ways it’s a big thing ; we have a relentless focus on using technology and information to make your life easier – and this is just one small example of that focus. Enjoy!

p.s. Android users – there’s a similar widget coming out in the very, very near future for you. Same concept, same information, same ease of use.

2015: A Year of Change

It’s a bitter sweet time in my house at the moment. For the last 12 years there’s been the pre bedtime  ritual of reading  to one or more of my children. I don’t know how many times I’ve read ‘The Bears Holiday’ , ‘Cat in the Hat’ or ‘Sniff-Snuff-Snap‘. Enough to know all the words; enough to know when my kids will squeal with fright/delight as I pretend to be the ‘one bossy warthog’ from that story.

Enough to know that one day this will end – and now my youngest is reading all on his own. Of course we’re super happy that he’s got there, but I know one day soon will be my last reading.

All things change.

And so it is with teamstuff this year. But there’s nothing bitter sweet about 2015 for teamstuff. Rather we are embracing a massive and deliberate year of innovation and change.  And it’s always a powerful notion to throw away your base assumptions – or at least review them in the light of the world today, as opposed to the world a few years ago. So we thought you might like to get a bit of an idea about what’s happening in this big, big year for teamstuff.

Mobile Platform – More Change

Our most consistent piece of feedback is ‘please allow game edit on mobile as well as on web’. And so you’re going to see this change rolling out across Android and iOS phones in the very short future. ( Android already has it – iOS in final testing phases )

And that’s just the start. Keep your eyes peeled for new releases for the mobile apps as we get the mobile platform in line with the capabilities of the web application. And that’s a pretty big change in approach for teamstuff, and one that’s based on what you, our users tell us.

Text Messaging – Way of the Future

OK – this one’s a big change for us. We tipped that text messaging would be dying a natural death as push notifications took over. In the real world – not so much. There’s still plenty of demand to receive text messages, so this year you will see teamstuff getting into texting in a big way. Of course, text messages cost us real money, so we’ll need to add some controls and the appropriate revenue model.

A More Beautiful User Experience

Lots of people tell us that our applications are far nicer and way easier to use than our competitors. Which is both nice and also true [ 😉 ]. But that doesn’t mean we’re satisfied. Far from it – we take the unusual approach of making the best feature that we possibly can, releasing it with pride. Then we take every opportunity to criticise, to wonder why we didn’t make it better – to actively find ways to improve that implementation.  Look for some big changes to the user experience, in part to allow for new features such as…

Files and Photos

This one’s been on the roadmap since Day 1. And we’ll be working our way through it over the next few months. To be fair – adding support for a PDF here or there isn’t so hard. Making the process easy for the whole team – that’s a bit more interesting. So that’s what’s taking the time here – making sure we’ve thought of the end to end process, preferably before we start building it!

Payments

Sports teams cost money – and simplifying the payments channels within the team is another feature long on the roadmap. Look for some big changes over the year, with both manual and web based payments coming to a teamstuff near you.

Languages

Teamstuff has unparalleled support for all the languages you could possibly want. We’ve already got Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian amongst others on board.  Watch us make use of that this year.

Marketing

Another significant change for teamstuff this year – we thought that we might try cracking this marketing nut. Apparently it’s a great idea for more people to know about teamstuff – and if they do – they might like the platform. And then use it – and then tell their friends. Yes, they’ll be studying teamstuff in future MBA courses around the world. Possibly in a “do not go to market like this” kinda way. Either way – we’re embracing the need to get our message out in 2015.

Revenue

That’s a massive set of changes we’ve outlined for 2015. At the end of those changes, our platform should be better than every other platform out there. Our goal is to be the best team app going round; our goal is that you’ll be able to organise your team in a snap. Some of our competitors will be charging over $100 / team a year ; for the same stuff, just delivered badly. Our marketing activities might mean more people know about us. Which is terrific – but it all costs money. We’ve always said there was a business in here somewhere, that balancing value between our users and ourselves is fine. So somewhere this year – you’ll see teamstuff introducing some paid plans to help support our work. And we’ll find out if there really is a business here somewhere!

And that’s 2015 in a nutshell for us. A year of embracing significant change ; a year of excitement. We’re going to really push ourselves, our assumptions and our platform over the next year.

All things change – bring it on!

One small step for teamstuff…

…one giant leap for team managers everywhere.

So with apologies to Neil Armstrong, let me introduce a feature that’s been on our wish list for a long, long time. And just like that famous last ‘small’ step – it’s the result of lots of work over a very long time. Let’s get down to details.

Question: How many tasks are needed on your team over the course of a season?

If the answer is ‘lots’ – then this is the feature you need. And let’s put this into context. My child’s footy team here in Melbourne has up to 11 different duties ( slightly more duties at home  ), and about 16 games in a season. All up – that’s about 160 different duties over the course of the season. And it’s the team manager’s job to allocate those duties to the player’s families. It’s the team manager’s job to communicate that to those families, and remind them. Because it’s the team manager’s job to find fill ins when people “forget”.

So teamstuff has long understood duties for a game, and has allowed them to be allocated to the families. And teamstuff would automatically remind families of the duty – by email, notification – or just anytime they looked at the game. But there was a big hurdle – assigning the duties in the first place. Very manual – game by game, duty by duty.

Ouch.

So the big feature we’ve now added is the ‘one magic button’ that does all that work for you. Yep – with about 2 minutes work, you can evenly distribute the duties across all games, across all players.

So you can see why we’re so excited about this one – it will save literally hours of your life!

There’s two parts to it ; creating a template of duties that you need at your games – then pressing the magic button. And that’s it. 160 duties, spread across 25 players. Two minutes of your time.

Minute 1 : Duty Templates

OK, login to teamstuff, head to your team. Look under the Duties section and you’ll see a couple of options. The Duty Template is the place you want to start. Here’s where you can tell teamstuff what Duties are needed , and for which games.

duty_templateHere’s an example where I’ve added 7 different duties, with two Duties ( Canteen , Ground Manager ) only needed on Home games.

Minute 2 : Allocation to the Team ( the fun part )

OK – now flick over to the ‘By Game’ tab under duties.  With the template in place, you might see something like the following ( a big list of games, together with empty slots for duties ).

duty_season_empty

There is a very large green button at the top – with the words ” Let Teamstuff Assign the Duties‘. Clicking on this gives you a similar view with some control options. It looks like this:

duty_assign_empty

You might notice that by default – we think that the Coaches and Managers on the team are already doing enough work. You probably don’t want to distribute more work to them. ( but you can, if that’s the way your team works. )

So hit the 2nd big green button – and away we go. At this point we perform some small miracles, and we’ll allocate the duties across the entire playing list. And we do it with a small amount of intelligence too. Here’s some scenarios that we can handle;

1. We don’t override allocations ; so if someone has already volunteered to be the season’s Goal Umpire – then we don’t overrule.

2. We try to allocate ‘about the same’ number to each player’s family. A family with twins would get twice as many duties. And we count this across the whole season.

3. We try to allocate as few duties to each player’s family as we can on any one game. Most of the time – the players gets only one duty per game.

4. We won’t allocate games to people who have indicated that they are away. That’s not helping anyone!

So press the button – and you end up with something like the following:

duty_assign_full

You can see immediately who’s on what duty – and how many duties the player has for the season.

If you feel like it – you can ask us to ‘try another combination’ – and we’ll try to do the same job and get a different result. Or more like it – just hit the save button at the bottom.

And wham – you’ve just allocated 160 duties across your team, in under 2 minutes. And one of the best bits – you ( the team manager ) can tell your parents that it wasn’t you who assigned them to the duty they least like. 😉 It was teamstuff, right?

We hope you love this feature – and hope you can see why we think it’s such a giant leap forward for us.

Enjoy. Coach

 

 

 

Can you make a great teamstuff video?

So, the other night I was up late wondering how to make teamstuff related videos. But not just any video – I want to make great teamstuff videos. I keep thinking they could be quite useful. And so what was keeping me up so late you ask? Was it a lack of skills? Lack of vision or just my general lack of experience? Yep, let’s go with all three.

But it struck me that we’ve got plenty of very talented users out there – and so the idea was born ; how about asking the teamstuff community? So today we’re throwing down the challenge – “Can you make a great teamstuff video?”

Here’s some more details :

Prizemoney : Of course! There’ll be one first prize of $500 AUD for the ‘best’ great teamstuff video ; that money can go to you, your team or club. And we’ll spot up for some encouragement awards of $250 AUD for ‘great but not quite first’ prizes.

Best: We’re reserving some judgement here – just make it great ok? Maybe your video is instructional – showing how to use the key features in teamstuff that make your life easier. Maybe you want to make a promotional video for teamstuff. Maybe yours is an action thriller where the hero needs teamstuff to save the day. [ and now you see why I shouldn’t be involved right? ]. Maybe it’s just the kids saying what they like about sport – brought to you by their parents – brought to their games by teamstuff. We don’t know either, but make it teamstuff related, and make it interesting and you are very much in the running.

Production Quality: This is not the Academy Awards ok? If you can shoot movies and edit them ( so that’s nearly anyone with a smart phone and access to PC/ Mac /iPad these days ) then you’ve got the production quality covered. Nice!

Language: Your native language is fine! We’d expect to have plenty of English entries – but equally if your mother tongue happens to be Spanish or German ( cough, hint, hint ) then that just might set you apart. 😉

How To Enter: Add your video to youtube, have it searchable via teamstuff. And then let us know it’s yours by emailing us at coach@teamstuff.com.

End Date: March 31, 2015

Good luck – and get shooting!

Dear Blackberry Users….

I was wrong.

There, I’ve said it. Don’t make me go on, it’s hard enough as it is. But I’m feeling like 2015 is going to be a year of change. So let me start the year by growing up a little – and losing a technology prejudice or two.

Over the last two years, I’ve made a few remarks about Blackberries. And about how we’re not going to support them. It turns out we can support them now, and we are supporting them. So it’s a pretty fantastic day for Blackberry teamstuff users – all the goodies of the Android teamstuff app are now coming to a super-encrypted handset near you!

The change that’s enabled this is really a combination of Blackberry and Amazon – and it works like this. Amazon has an Android app store, and Blackberry has very cleverly enabled Android support for it’s newer models. They’ve done this by adding an Android emulation package to the Blackberry – so in theory any Android app now works on Blackberry.

In all sincerity – this a a breakthrough for Blackberry – since their native development process was going nowhere. ( and was the real reason why we couldn’t support them ). Blackberry users now have access to every Android app written – they just need to be placed into the Amazon app store ( as opposed to Google’s version ).

So as of today, as of now – you’ll find teamstuff inside the Amazon app store; and we welcome our Blackberry brothers and sisters to teamstuff app land. Welcome aboard!

One Slight Caution

Emulation software is always difficult, particularly in the early days. Our Android application thinks it’s running on an Android device – which it isn’t. A software ‘lookalike’ – the emulation software – makes the Blackberry hardware look like Android hardware. And hopefully, it all works fine. Occasionally things won’t work out perfectly – and it’s the emulation software that’s the root problem, not the application. Teamstuff can’t do much about that ; and we can’t test for Blackberry perfection. But we will test for Android on Android perfection, and we will keep the Amazon app store up to date with our latest and greatest releases.

Last comment – congratulations to Blackberry – it’s a courageous move absorbing a whole different OS – but we think it’s both smart and necessary. Best of luck!

Teamstuff is free, no ads. So where’s the catch?

We’ve had a few people ask us this one, so I thought it might be worthwhile taking some time to pen a response, and put it out there publicly.

Two software nerds start a business…

All good stories should start at the start. And for teamstuff; that start was about 17 years ago. Two naive and impressionable young blokes ( Mark Johnson and Adam Kierce), best of friends, start a software business ( Shine Technologies ). Both developers by trade and by passion – we wanted to be free to make software the way we wanted to. So we created agile processes ( before that became the way to make software ), and we made software that worked. That was revolutionary enough at the time for our small company to survive and thrive. Which was lucky, because we understood nothing about running a business.

Roll forward 17 years, and our software business is now big(ish) ; 2 people have turned into 60 odd. Roll forward 17 years, and those naive young developers now have 7 kids between them ( most in sports teams ). Roll forward 17 years, and we think we’ve got a handle on this ‘business thing’ ; and we’re ready to make software just for ourselves.

So we did ; and teamstuff was born.

And teamstuff isn’t just a hobby or a bit of fun on the side ( although it’s delivering on both those fronts ). We think there’s a genuine business opportunity somewhere there – what we’ve learnt about business is that people are OK paying for something that delivers value for them. That’s why we haven’t put ads into teamstuff – it’s not of any value to our customers. Oh, and we personally hate ads in the sites and apps we use. And you don’t get ‘partner’ offers through us either – that just seems like a really good way to annoy our users. The bottom line is if there’s no balancing of value between customer and business ; it’s not right for us. Might be for plenty of others ; but not for us. We’re not quite sure of the exact nature of our ‘balanced value’ yet; but we do know that we need to get bucket loads of customers.

So that’s our big problem – how to get crazy numbers of customers. That’s a problem usually solved by marketing. Which is unfortunate, because it turns out that in 17 years of running a software business; we’ve learnt pretty much nothing about marketing ( technically, we’ve let our software market our business ). So in the absence of awesome marketing-ness, we’re again letting our software do the marketing for us. And making it easy to test out means making it free. Our theory is that our software is good – so the more people who test it – the more that will want to use it. And the more that people use it – the more people who will see it.

And we’re lucky ; our main software business is tracking nicely, and gives us the skills and experience and yes, the funding we need to make teamstuff work. UX, cloud, responsive design – mobile apps. This is what we do on a day-day basis; just most of the time we get paid to do it on behalf of someone else.

So teamstuff is free; there’s no ads today. We’re not mining your data ( for bitcoins? ha – little nerd joke there). My kids details are in there – this weekend it took me to 5 different games, reminded me of two different duties ( at least one of which I truly had forgotten). I couldn’t survive a weekend without it.

So teamstuff is free; no ads.  We’re trying to build a beautiful piece of software, that’s a pleasure for our families and for yours to use. One day we might have crazy numbers in it, and one day we might work out how to return our investment. And if we do – it will be because we can share the value between us and our customers.

Until then – we hope you enjoy using our software as much as we enjoy making it. And yes, teamstuff is free, no ads, and no catch.

Adam and Mark
Teamstuff co-founders

Families – We Got You Covered

We love kids, we love sport, we love families. But we must admit, even we didn’t quite appreciate just how many different types of families there are.  And I don’t mean ‘good’ families vs ‘bad’ ( lucky we’re all perfect right? ); I just mean the amazing variety of roles and responsibilities within families. Super mums, super dads, super step parents and grand parents and everything in between.

So a little while ago, we put on our super nerd thinking hat ( it’s a thing, go with me – kinda like Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat, but without the magic. Or the castle. Or the…crikey I’m off topic.  ), and decided that no matter how your family worked – we needed to support it. Some families it’s Mum in charge. Sometimes it’s Dad. Sometimes it’s a 50/50 equal split. And sometimes the kids are older, and they want their own space; and are responsible for their own schedule. You know – except for when they forget; and then that was your responsibility. So our super nerd hat told us ; “Teamstuff must support the way each family works, and not make life harder for them.”

And so we did. You always obey talking hats. OK, so in the real world, what on earth does that mean? It means we’re 100% fine with any, and all of the following scenarios;

  1. One parent doing all the heavy lifting. Might just share login details with the other parent, this is the basic model we’ve always had.
  2. Two ‘together’ parents, each with their own login, sharing the same kids. So now, both parents can have full access to the same child ( like in the real world ) – each with their own login, email preferences, access to calendars etc.
  3. Two ‘separated’ parents, each with their own login. They share access to their kids details, but NO access to each others. Some separations are harder than others, we preserve privacy in these ones.
  4. OK, how about a parent sharing access to their kids schedule with their spouse?And a grandparent too? Yep, we can do that; a child schedule can be shared with as many adults as you need to.
  5. What about sharing the schedule with your teenager? Maybe they want their own login, but you want to have access too to their game and training schedule.  Yep – nailed that too. Again , parent + kid get their own login, so they get their own account preferences.
  6. Family Schedule Page. A web based schedule you can share with close families and friends. This doesn’t give full access or a login – just the knowledge of who is playing where and when. Perfect for grandparents!
  7. How about transferring a kid from you to another parent? Yep. Got that handled too – just in case the ‘wrong’ parent gets invited to a team. No dramas.
  8. Team manager invites Mum, but it’s Dad whose account you’re using for teamstuff. No worries – when you receive the invitation, Mum can redirect the invite to Dad. All sorted.

So we think we’ve got all the family configurations covered. It’s totally flexible – and it should work the way your family works. Now before someone asks, a valid family option is not Blackberry. That’s just a technology choice, and it’s not one that many people are still making. Sorry Blackberry users.

OK, how do you do it?

It’s pretty simple – you just share a kid’s profile from teamstuff with your loved ones/grand parents/ via their email address. It is seriously too easy.

So let’s say that I Coach, have a wife and a child. I know, it seems unlikely with my current ramblings about talking hats, but again – in teamstuff land this might look like the following;

ts_coach+child

So if I want to share ‘Little Coach’ with my wife, then it’s as easy as;

Step 1.

ts_coach_startshare

On the web, login and find the profile of the child you want to share. Expand it, then click on the icons on the right ( trying to represent parents ). This is the shared access area – showing you who is sharing this schedule. Remember – it’s child by child – so the above example is showing who has access to my child “Little Coach” ; and it’s just me.

Step 2.

Click on the ‘share’ icon on the left – its circled in red. The one under that is ‘transfer. The transfer option, as it suggests allows you to move a child’s schedule from one adult to another. But in this case we both want the schedule, so it’s the top icon we press – the sharing.

Step 3.

Enter the email account of the person you want to share with. Can be a current teamstuff user or not; no problem. They will get an email to accept the child’s schedule; and we’ll take them through the sign up or login process.

And that’s it. Whether you’re sharing with another parent, grand parent or sharing the schedule to your child themselves – that’s how easy it is. If you know their email, then you can share.

And at the end of it – this is what it looks like.

Coach’s view;
ts_coach+child

Wife of Coach View;ts_coachwife+child

Note that both I and ‘wife of coach’ have exactly the same access rights to the child’s schedule. We can both accept or decline a game. Or change the child’s name, or team number. We both get emails, and game reminders. And duties.

So with this recent change, we’re pretty sure we have families covered. No matter how you get your family stuff arranged, we’re here for you.

Lastly – next time you’re talking to the extended family about who’s playing where…take a look at the Family Schedule Page in your account settings. This awesome and super handy feature allows you to publish a schedule directly to the web. Up to date all the time ; which child, where and when. Makes the life of supportive grandparents ( and don’t we thank our lucky stars for supportive family ) so much easier.

Lastly – once again – our aim is to remove the admin burden from overworked coaches and team managers. So it’s the parents themselves that set this up, not the coach, not the team manager. Invite people in using one and only one email address; and let your parents do the rest for themselves. I know. Sweet!

Enjoy.

Coach.