A New IT Outsourcing Based Solution for the Bradford United Football Club of London
Bradford United is one of the best known teams in British Premier League Football (Soccer). In the past, it has won the league several times and even more importantly, has been among the top five teams for well over three decades. Tony Colbert is the current coach of Bradford United and he has been mulling over a set of problems for the last several weeks.
For a variety of reasons the current Bradford United team is dominated by young and upcoming players. This has meant a slump in performance in the current league as the new players struggle to come to terms with a much more experienced and strategically well developed opposition. However, Coach Colbert, who was in part responsible for the recruitment of young talented players, knows that a young side also means it has the capacity to improve rapidly and dramatically if given the proper guidance. As a matter of fact Coach Colbert’s strategy during the recruitment seasons of 2009 and 2010 were premised on this idea of rapid improvements in at least a segment of new talented players. Towards this effect, Colbert had also started a new regime in training and analysis that has already seen some dividends. The problem Coach Colbert has been mulling over is how to improve his training and analysis infrastructure.
Named after his mentor, Carlos Amin Faridi, a legendary Spanish-Algerian coach, Colbert uses a system for analysis and training called the Faridi Information and Analysis Technique for Football (FIAT for Football). FIAT involves a very careful collection of information and post game analysis that helps the coach determine what development each player needs. For implementing FIAT in coaching Bradford United, Colbert has a coaching staff of ten – four Assistant Coaches and six Ball Monitoring Staff. On the morning of each game, Colbert meets with his Assistant Coaches for two hours, with input from the captain, to determine the opening line-up for the game and the potential pattern of substitution as the game proceeds. At the start whistle the entire staff is strategically located all along the sidelines as required by FIAT guidelines and they follow the game carefully taking notes intermittently on what different players did faced with different situations on the field. For instance, in a recent game between Liverpool and Bradford United, one of the Assistant Coaches was able to spot that Oliver Ridley, one of Bradford United’s mid-fielders invariably ended up pushing the ball too far to the left of the target player in long passes. The Asst Coach noted this thrice in the game and each time he made a note of his observation and the exact time on the game clock when he had noticed Ridley making the error. Once the game is over, late in the night or early next morning the notes from all the Coaches and Ball Monitors is consolidated and overlaps eliminated to create a draft version of the Video Segmentation Input Note (VSIN). It is handed over to Colbert for any additions or deletions to the notes list. Colbert’s first post-Game activity, again as laid out in the FIAT system, is an early morning meeting with the players for the standard Post Game Player Feedback Meeting (PGPFM). During this meeting, normally over breakfast the day after each game, Colbert listens to the players and their own assessment of the game. He uses this input to add notes to the VSIN. Colbert finalizes the notes and hands the final VSIN back to the Ball Monitors who then get on to the tedious task of locating and isolating the digital video feed on each incident indicated in the final notes. All Premier League football games are monitored by 22 cameras – each following one player. At a minimum this means about 12 to 14 hours of video feed for each game relevant to the players from any one team. The Ball Monitors, armed with the final VSIN note and an AVID Multi track video editing software, go through the 12 to 14 hours of video feed to locate the incidents/plays identified in the notes. As they locate and isolate each segment of the video feed required, the Ball Monitors add further notes. For instance, in the case of Ridley, three segments – Minute 11 Second 14, Minute 23 Second 06 and Minute 49 Second 47 were the ones that were isolated during the Bradford United-Liverpool game analysis. As the Ball Monitor watched the three segments again and again, he added the following notes in the margin “Note Approach to ball. Left leg out of position”. Sometimes these additional notes can be quite extensive as this is the first time that anybody is watching the video feed with any degree of attention. Once all the necessary video segments have been isolated, the Ball Monitors hand over the CD and the Updated VSIN notes to Colbert. Colbert and his team of Assistant Coaches meet for their First Post Game Analysis Session (FPGAS) and watch the segments and analyze them for a range of issues – overall strategy failures during the game, problems, if any, with individual players execution of game strategy, failures, if any, of individual players techniques, specific moves by players in terms of speed, aggression level etc, quality of dribbling, passing etc to name just a few of the things they pay attention to. At the end of the analysis session two notes are drawn up. The first is a note on Training Strategy that goes out as the document that guides the coaches during the next few days of training and the second a “Supplementary Requirements” document that goes back to the Ball Monitors to extract further video feed that is once again fed back to Colbert for the Second Analysis Session (SAS).
Colbert has been painfully aware, each time he has followed the broad structure of FIAT laid down by Faridi that its current implementation is weak and incomplete. In terms of actual data that he would like to isolate about each game, there is much more he would like to see. For instance, he would like to see all the tackles that a specific player makes to get a sense of the consistency and technique a player uses in tackling a player of the opposite team with ball possession. So also, he would like to see how a specific player is moving under conditions of non-possession of the ball as would he love to see speed of movement while having the ball in-possession. The list of the different parsings of the video feed that he would find valuable is extensive and what has currently been implemented is limited and patchy. In large part this is because of two factors: the available length of time between any two games and if he were to try and implement all his requirements it would need an army of ball monitors to be working on the video feed. Already he is faced with rumblings from the teams ownership about the budget being out of control and so the prospects of him hiring any new staff is next to nil. Colbert’s reasons for wanting such an extensive analysis is simple. Not only does he believe that Faridi got it right but football, unlike many other sports, is one where the game is created and executed through many moments that seem non-crucial to the final outcome. For instance, how fast a player is moving on the field may not have anything directly to do with the sole goal scored in a game but it may have been central to the issue of why so few goal scoring opportunities were created. With the current system of limited video extraction he can only look at the “highlights” of the game whereas the real analysis of the game may also lie in some of the more inconspicuous moments of the game. Colbert, then, has been thinking hard about how to crack this problem of information shortage as he sees it. Often there is just 72 hours between two games and therefore all this has to happen during the first 48 of those 72 hours. On the morning of the next game the coaches and the captain meet to consider all the Post Game Analysis and decide on the Starting eleven for the upcoming game. Once the starting eleven for the game is identified, Colbert spends the last hour before the game back with the FIAT video segments that involves each of the players that constitute the starting eleven, makes some final notes, based on which he has a brief word with some of the players as to what they need to think of while on field and uses the notes for the final pep talk before the players walk on to the field.
Assume you have run into Colbert at a pub in London and he has described the entire system as described above. He has sought your advice, as an Outsourcing and Process Re-Engineering expert on how to approach the problem he is facing. Assume that Colbert’s description of the problem he is faced with is the equivalent of him putting out an RFI (request for information).
- Draw a Context Diagram for the FIAT for Football process
- Draw a top level Data Flow Diagram for the FIAT for Football method
- Blow up any one non-trivial process into a first level Data Flow Diagram
After having drawn the above three models:
- If you were to write a response to Colbert’s problem, would outsourcing be part of the solution? Explain. (Maximum 20 lines of text)