Triathlon Australia gives .NET a full workout

Triathlon Australia was struggling for a united online presence; its eight state/territory-based organisations all had information to share, but they also had incompatible systems.

The sport’s administrators could not track or target its participants as a whole, which is necessary in order to operate successfully in Australia’s competitive sports market.

The organisation was also dependent on an external Web producer, who used manual Web coding, whenever it wanted to publicise online any event in Australia. The follow-on effect was the site was rarely used for anything more than static content.

Accordingly, event coordination used paper-based systems, a slow and costly process.

Triathlon Australia decided to automate many of its paper-based administration functions and to distribute its workload of administering membership and events to its subsidiary organisations. It did this using .NET.

To reduce the costs associated with its paper-based distribution systems, Triathlon Australia, under the guidance of national sponsor Accenture, used server-side ASP .NET to revamp the Web site with e-mail functionality. The .NET framework works alongside Microsoft Windows 2000 Server running Internet Information Server 5.0 and backed by an SQL Server 2000 database.

With .NET in place, any staff member throughout Australia can now update the site.

“Access rights are structured so that an organisation can only administer content and membership that is relevant to their level. The system prevents them from viewing details from any level other than their own,” said Nicholas Gaul, project manager at Accenture.

Through the site’s registration features, Triathlon Australia can build a profile of visitors to the site, which is useful for marketing opportunities.

Michael Hicks, Web administrator at Triathlon Australia, said, “Now we can ensure that the site is always looking great with the latest photos, race reports and anecdotes from professional athletes. This means we can build our traffic by making the site a central reference point for triathletes both locally and internationally”.

In line with Triathlon Australia’s view to utilising e-commerce, site visitors can join the association via a secure transaction.

Of course, any promotional effort online must feature an online shop. Triathlon Australia’s online merchandise section offers product images, details and pricing. Visitors can add items to their shopping basket, which lists chosen items and calculates the total quantities, prices and freight costs. Once the user has confirmed their order, they proceed to the checkout to enter payment details.

Gaul named .NET’s built-in functionality, and the reduction in development time, as the greatest benefits of the project.

“We wanted to utilise new features, such as the calendar Web control, provided in the .NET framework to increase the functionality of the solution and reduce the time required to develop and test these components," he said. "For example, Triathlon Australia wanted users to have a simple calendar interface to see what events were on a nominated date and most of that functionality is supplied out of the box with ASP Visual Studio.NET. Additionally, ASP .NET provides a layer of separation between the code and the HTML which makes it much easier to write and debug the solution - this means the product is developed, tested and delivered up to 30 per cent faster than would be the case with comparative technologies.”

Triathlon Australia is currently educating clubs and state associations on the capabilities of the new solution. Once the tool is being used to its full potential, Gaul has a number of ideas for extending its functionality.

“We are planning to utilise .NET MyServices [messenger] alerts in the next phase so that Triathlon Australia Web site members receive notifications when their event has been changed, or perhaps that their merchandise has just been shipped,” he said.

To visit Triathlon Australia online, go to www.triathlon.org.au.

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