With a long history in Aotearoa, league is a sport close to the heart of many Auckland communities. Auckland Rugby League’s (ARL) overarching goal was to invest in transformation that would ensure rugby league is around in the future as a thriving sport, better supporting players throughout their involvement with local Auckland clubs.
General Manager of Experience, Kelly McKenzie said that while ARL recognised the role data would need to play in their vision for transformation, they didn’t have the means to consolidate and evaluate it meaningfully
“When we thought about the change we needed to make, we looked at the data we had available to us. Some lacked credibility, some just wasn’t available and many things just weren’t being measured.
ARL had a couple of admin team members who were busy every single day, answering the phones, organising grounds. And then on top of that, were tasked with accessing databases and pulling out certain numbers. And so, they engaged Paul and Ben in order to help them figure out how they were going to surface the data and to make it automated.
ARL went in knowing some of the things they wanted to understand better. However the more that Paul and Ben understood their strategy and goals, the more they were able to present more explicit ideas around what they could elicit from their data to move ARL closer towards those goals.
One example of metrics ARL wanted to understand better was an individual’s player journey, and how the organisation could anticipate disruptions to that journey and therefore strengthen retention.
“We had anecdotal indications about a player’s journey, but we couldn’t understand it at a macro level and insight couldn’t be gleaned just by logging in and looking at individual profiles. Paul and Ben were able to effectively rip data from the sources we had, and surface it in such a way that it would tell us a whole lot more nuanced information about what a player’s journey looks like”.
One of the dashboards that Paul and Ben built hones in on the major measures that drives ARL decision making - things like player participation numbers, proportion of participation and volunteer involvement.
“When we see that we’re not quite there with those numbers, we can have a conversation as a leadership team and ask, ‘what else can we do right now’? Data transparency has enabled more milestone check-ins, helping us be realistic about where things are at, what we’ve actually achieved or where we’re falling short”, says Kelly.
Kelly said that while she would previously spend days extracting, analysing and then presenting data, with Rally, now the data is instantly accessible in a way that tells a meaningful story.
It was important to ARL to have integrated systems that enabled sustainable transformation, long term. And while Kelly says that sometimes the numbers can be confronting, having better access to data means they are able to stand up initiatives based on really clear indicators.
“It forces us to rally around central goals, and if one particular area is failing, then we all need to collaborate on that regardless of what we have going on at the moment. At our leadership team meeting, we can talk about those numbers week to week, day to day, and that’s really powerful, especially when we’re operating at such pace. Forecasting has become one of the most important conversation pieces in leadership meetings.”
The heart of their journey with data is to provide real value to their community. There are things that they know that the community needs, and some that they don’t know they need or want yet.
“The work we’re doing with Paul and Ben has been about starting that journey, building that view ahead. We've now got a sustainable means to continue with that transformation journey, and we’re excited about the way we can increasingly leverage data to inform the future success of our sport.”
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