ECF Office

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Justin Hadi

ECF Office

Post by Justin Hadi » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:21 pm

On http://englishchess.org.uk/farthing/?p=66, it is noted that general administration costs for the ECF are
£31000 per annum. Do we know how much of this is spent on office rent/rates/insurance?

I would imagine a large proportion, and something which could be saved via a virtual office.

Andrew Farthing
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Re: ECF Office

Post by Andrew Farthing » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:56 pm

A detailed breakdown of the Management Services costs was included in the Finance Council papers available from the ECF website at http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?page_id=897. The document you want is the "Detailed 2012-13 Budget".

Mark Howitt
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Re: ECF Office

Post by Mark Howitt » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:05 am

That's obviously too high.

Justin Hadi

Re: ECF Office

Post by Justin Hadi » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:04 pm

It makes interesting reading, I don't see why the following can't be scrapped.

£3500 on postage - which could be almost entirely conducted via e-mail.
£7650 on rent/rates and electricity
£2000 on office sundry expenses

Total
£13150/year

John McKenna
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Re: ECF Office

Post by John McKenna » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:20 pm

2010 - £1,257 (2011 - £1,533?) 'Credit Card Charges'! Someone forget to settle the corporate card(s) bill in time? If not it is a very expensive form of borrowing.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

John Upham
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Re: ECF Office

Post by John Upham » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:03 pm

Justin Hadi wrote:It makes interesting reading, I don't see why the following can't be scrapped.

£3500 on postage - which could be almost entirely conducted via e-mail.
£7650 on rent/rates and electricity
£2000 on office sundry expenses

Total
£13150/year
Not sure how you would reduce the £7650 on rent/rates and electricity figure unless you didn't run a physical office at all. Isn't this figure somewhat digital in nature?

You could have three homeworkers using permanent Skype video calls I suppose. You would need to pay those homeworkers for office equipment, utility bills, insurance and the normal expenses of running three home offices.

How do you scrap "£2000 on office sundry expenses" when you don't know what these are?

The one figure that most likely could be reduced is the £3500 on postage but I suspect the office do post out many items that cannot be emailed. The devil is in the detail as always.
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John Philpott

Re: ECF Office

Post by John Philpott » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:29 pm

John McKenna wrote
2010 - £1,257 (2011 - £1,533?) 'Credit Card Charges'! Someone forget to settle the corporate card(s) bill in time? If not it is a very expensive form of borrowing.
Almost certainly merchant charges on amounts paid TO the ECF by credit card.

Justin Hadi

Re: ECF Office

Post by Justin Hadi » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:38 pm

John Upham wrote: Not sure how you would reduce the £7650 on rent/rates and electricity figure unless you didn't run a physical office at all.
That's what I suggested on the first post of this thread.
John Upham wrote: You could have three homeworkers using permanent Skype video calls I suppose. You would need to pay those homeworkers for office equipment, utility bills, insurance and the normal expenses of running three home offices.
Really? Is this in the law?

Have you changed your position since this thread?
http://ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1042
John Upham wrote: The one figure that most likely could be reduced is the £3500 on postage but I suspect the office do post out many items that cannot be emailed. The devil is in the detail as always.
That's where greater transparency can help. £3500/year is really a lot for postage when again most things can be done via e-mail. I expect a lot of this would be for yearbooks, which could also be done via e-mail.

Angus French
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Re: ECF Office

Post by Angus French » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:38 pm

John McKenna wrote:2010 - £1,257 (2011 - £1,533?) 'Credit Card Charges'! Someone forget to settle the corporate card(s) bill in time? If not it is a very expensive form of borrowing.
I suspect those figures don't represent interest charges for late payments but rather the charges - usually equivalent to a cut of several % of each transaction - which credit card companies levy on businesses.

E Michael White
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Re: ECF Office

Post by E Michael White » Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:52 pm

Any organisation like the ECF should have set up an affinity card with a provider to reverse some of this cash flow.

Andrew Farthing
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Re: ECF Office

Post by Andrew Farthing » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:16 pm

I'm not planning to engage in a long discussion of this, because I've been through it all several times before, including consideration of the feasibility of a virtual office and a dispersed staff working from home. I'll just make a couple of points and move on.

Whilst it is all very interesting in theory to talk about doing away with paper and postage, etc. and a physical office, the reality is not that simple. A significant proportion (about a third, I believe) of the ECF membership either is not online or has not supplied a valid e-mail address. There is undoubtedly a demographic (age-related) factor in this. Moreover, the experience in the office is that communicating by e-mail is not as effective as by post in many cases. The office staff do use e-mail as much as possible, and they have been sending membership renewal notices by e-mail for a while now. In practice, a significant proportion receive no reply and responses only come in after a reminder has been sent in the post. This letter refers to the earlier e-mail and frequently elicits the response that the e-mail was never received.

£7650 for rent, rates and electricity for an office housing three staff and substantial physical files is remarkably low, in fact. For this, the ECF receives the benefit of a team working in one place and able to provide mutual cover for illness and holiday as well as working as a team in response to the needs of the moment. Unsurprisingly, in a small team of three, the boundaries between what people do are fluid, and people pitch in to help as required.

I can confirm that the "credit card charges" are the service charges for card transactions (percentage of transaction value), NOT borrowing costs!

John McKenna
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Re: ECF Office

Post by John McKenna » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:36 pm

Always pleased to receive a reply from the overworked CEO and to know that Angus was correct about the nature of the charges. However Mr White has a point and in these austere times perhaps a cheaper way of short-term funding of purchases might be found. E.g. Lloyds TSB has a /cashflow link I believe.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Paul Cooksey

Re: ECF Office

Post by Paul Cooksey » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:08 pm

I think it is right to talk about the ECF's expenditure. I find it strange every nuance of the ECF's income raising is discussed in minute detail, but its expediture mostly glossed over.

That said, I don't think it is possible to analyse whether the money is being spent well or badly just looking at the accounts. Maybe that postage was spent on something brilliantly successful, maybe it wasn't. So I complete agree with Andrew's position. A CEO is appointed to run the day to day and is accountable for the results. We have to trust him to do it competently, or replace him. (It can't help that the one year term of office makes things unstable. But a different discussion)

The biggest office costs are people, and the infrastructure to support them. Looking at the staff and infrastructure costs, I guess that the cost of a day of office time spent on activity is c.£110-£120. This should be allocated to the relevant Directorate, and ideally by the Director to an activity. I care how much the ECF spends collecting membership fees, running the British, supporting junior chess etc. I don't care how much it spends on stamps or phone calls in achieving those aims, only the totals.

Throwing my personal prejudice into the ring, I suspect the Yearbook loses significant money. I suspect most are sold at the reduced rate, there are credit card overheads and ghost writing by staff (at c.£110 a day...). I'd rather spend the money on the International budget. Some people would disagree. But at least if we knew what the ECF was spending on what, we could have a sensible discussion about it. More importantly, so could Council.

To be honest I thought I was plowing a lonely furrow with this point, until the CFGC report recommending management accounts. I am interested to know what form these will take.

Paul McKeown
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Re: ECF Office

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:29 pm

Paul,

I agree. The information provided by the yearbook could be provided online, perhaps in a login section of the website. It's not like it was in the past, an essential almanac of all that had occurred in British chess in the previous year it's now mostly lists of officers, contact details, etc.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Office

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:22 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:. It's not like it was in the past, an essential almanac of all that had occurred in British chess in the previous year it's now mostly lists of officers, contact details, etc.
If you look back from years in the future, it's often the mundane things like the officers, regulations, charges accounts etc. that are the things you look for. I wouldn't prioritise reports of junior trips abroad, particularly notes of what they ate, however interesting that may be to arbiters.

Much the same applies to ChessMoves. If there's ever anything of interest, it should be addressed to the wider English chess community rather than be confined to the narrower subset of members.

It would indeed be very interesting as to how the ECF spends its money analysed up by the responsibilities of directors. At one time, a lot of paper used to be distributed for Council meetings, so presumably there was a considerable Office cost. This would be money spent on Governance, if it was more than was spent on International teams, this would be alarming and support the notion that Council needed reform. But we don't know. I would think the implicit charge-back to counties, leagues and Congresses for their ordinary activities would be minimal. Grading yes, but that's outside of the Office.

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