Custom development to modernize an outmoded system enables the United States Bowling Congress to better support members, recruit new ones, and drive this national sport into the future
United States Bowling Congress (USBC)
Application Development, Sustaining Engineering
- Data integrity issues prompted the need for tighter constraints
- Off-the-shelf solution didn’t support the business model and created integration issues
- Paper-based processes and legacy software with limited capabilities hindered the ability to effectively manage the business
- Poor usability and disparate systems created pressure to optimize the customer experience
- Recognized the need to modernize across their portfolio of applications to achieve growth
- Built custom web-based systems that provided functionality tailored to the sport of bowling
- Modernized all applications, seamlessly integrated systems, and enabled Single Sign-On authentication
- Launched 10 weeks ahead of schedule
- Improved the registration process and reduced the time to buy by 10x
- Delivered a fast, intuitive, and mobile-friendly user experience
- Added new enhancements to support a growing membership base
United States Bowling Congress (USBC) is the national governing body for bowling and a membership organization for adult and youth bowlers. As a non-profit, their mission is to provide the resources and programs to ensure the sport’s continuous growth, and they currently have over 2 million members and over 3,000 associations. They provide standardized rules, regulations, and benefits for the sport as well as run a dozen national tournaments.
Restore data integrity
USBC faced challenges with data accuracy and integrity within their existing software solution. Data duplication, password and login issues, data re-entry, and the need to manually merge records were just a few of the problem areas. These challenges became more pronounced as more bowlers joined and USBC needed a solution with custom constraints to control data entry and aggregation for bowlers, captains, teams, and divisions. As it stood, they did not have a way to enforce rules or validate standards which prohibited them from maintaining the integrity of the registration process.
Build a custom application to meet specific needs
Off-the-shelf solutions were not truly optimized to the needs of USBC, and didn’t provide the level of customization or unique features needed for the sport of bowling. Integration roadblocks exacerbated the challenge and IT was faced with system compatibility issues, technical challenges with logins and accessibility, and vendor inflexibility. This all prohibited systems from “talking” to one another and when USBC found their business was limited by their software they decided to pursue a new strategy and invest in custom application development.
Effectively manage tournaments end-to-end
After years of growth and gaining tournament traction, USBC needed a new system that provided a seamless way to manage the entire tournament start to finish, from initial setup and check-in to collecting payment and showcasing results. They managed tournaments with a combination of paper-based processes and legacy software with limited capabilities. This was no longer viable and the impact was felt by bowlers, in particular the check-in process took over 30 minutes. USBC envisioned scaling a new tournament management system to all 4 major national events.
Improve the customer experience
The current registration system did not meet user expectations and was taking a toll on the bowler experience. The excitement of registering for an event became overshadowed by poor usability, frustration with multiple logins and passwords to different systems, and transaction errors. On USBC’s end, customer service calls were unreasonably high. This created pressure to build a registration system that provided bowlers the autonomy to manage their profiles, logins, teams, events, and payment.
Modernize to accelerate growth
USBC was focused on drumming up more interest in bowling to ensure the sport’s continuous growth. The investment in modern technology was the foundation to accomplish this goal. They realized the necessity of modernizing their technology suite across their portfolio of applications, and an upcoming national tournament was the perfect time to embark on this journey. A big push to modernize could propel the sport forward.
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When USBC realized off-the-shelf solutions were not meeting their needs, they looked to make the switch to a custom solution. Headspring had all the technical accolades to build a solution designed to suit their specific needs, with functionality tailored to the sport of bowling. Headspring’s delivery and development approach ensured USBC would have a flexible software solution designed to the scale with their business and adapt to a changing business and bowler environment.
Headspring’s agile delivery was critical to the partnership decision, providing the level of transparency the USBC team required. The ability to demo new features after every sprint enabled team members to see new changes in production and be hands-on early with new features which helped drive user adoption.
The right team for lasting change
A collaborative working style was a core requirement for USBC, and they looked for a partner to work alongside and within their internal teams to bring technical expertise and thought leadership. Headspring had the right team in place to meet these business needs and integrate with USBC to introduce cutting edge technologies and methodologies. Their model of teaching the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the solution to train USBC’s development team combined with ongoing sustaining engineering was exactly what USBC wanted in a partner.
Build a custom web-based system
A web-based system was built from the ground up leveraging modern technologies and frameworks including ASP.NET WebAPI2, Entity Framework 6, ReactJS, and SQL Server. The new modern system was first implemented for tournament management, and would extend across two other business units. The web-based system streamlined all processes to handle tournament needs end-to-end, provided tighter controls and rules specific to bowling, and all bowler profiles were reconciled and imported to achieve data accuracy.
Keep users’ needs top of mind
Adapt to a mobile-first world
The solution included a mobile-friendly experience which allowed USBC to respond to evolving user needs and enabled their system to be accessible to bowlers whenever and wherever they needed. Simplicity was key to ensure end users could effortlessly complete any process.
Ensure seamless integrations
All new systems were built to seamlessly integrate with one another. Headspring implemented RabbitMQ between the systems, which allowed them to create decoupled applications that are easier to maintain, scale, and test. Continuous integration and automated deployment were the catalyst for a transparent delivery style, ensuring all deployments were seamless and delivering value to the end-users.
Enable Single Sign-On authentication
Identity Server 4 was the recommended solution to create a Single Sign-On platform and it satisfied both of USBC’s requirements – it was the latest Microsoft technology and it allowed them to host the system on their own machines. It was critical to USBC that they had autonomy for their IT team to maintain control of the hosting. This organization-wide Single-Sign-On utilized OAuth2 as the authorization framework and OpenID Connect as the secure and verifiable identity protocol.
Headspring’s commitment to long-term results meant knowledge transfer, support, and coaching were happening continuously throughout the partnership to drive user adoption. They would continue to support new initiatives with future integrations, upcoming tournaments, team development, and feature enhancements.
Launched ahead of tournament schedule
With a big tournament on the horizon, speed to market was imperative and the new custom tournament management system launched a pilot program 10 weeks ahead of schedule. Winning with speed meant USBC could train team members with hands-on experience and provide feedback on the new system before the big national tournament. This helped drive familiarity with the tool, organizational buy-in, and confidence for the full release.
Increased revenue by improving registration
A new streamlined registration process reduced the time to buy by 10x. The previous challenges with logins, password, and payments were obsolete and bowlers could now easily navigate through the process and successfully pay for their tournament entries. Within 3 weeks of launch, the pilot program generated 75% of the previous year’s revenue while incurring zero service costs.
Modernized youth programs
With tournament management and registration systems driving business value, USBC continued to modernize across their portfolio and were equipped with a new system to cater to youth tournaments. It not only replaced the legacy system, but provided new capabilities for this specific user group and tighter controls and rules to comply with regulations. With a portfolio of modern systems, the user experience was now seamless across all USBC products.
Empowered team members
USBC team members were equipped with a fast and user-friendly web application that was intuitive to use for the most critical tournament actions. The time needed to perform any action was greatly reduced, driving efficiency and providing a better customer experience. The focus on usability made it easy to scale with the business and they could rapidly get new users trained and up to speed.
Set up for long-term success
After the new systems were rolled out the partnership continued with sustaining engineering for post go-live support, training to propel adoption across the organization, and feature enhancements. Over 50 new enhancements were added to address evolving user and business needs. Single-Sign-On was built for ease of migration, opening the door for USBC to continue migrating pre-existing systems to the new secure authentication solution.