Monday, December 6, 2010

Snafus dogging experimental hunting license/deer check-in system

With its reputation on the line and $16 million at stake, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is trying to work out the bugs with its web-based Wild Ohio Customer Relations Management System.

All in an effort to see where potential snags exist and then either cut them off and re-tie or else find an alternative way to get the job done. Problem is, both the selling of licenses and the check-in process have failed to deliver in a flawless fashion.

The WOCRMS profile is under the microscope as the agency experiments with the system in an effort to refine the process. This experiment includes selling licenses at Gander Mountain’s Mentor store as well as checking in deer at the Hartsgrove Square BP station in Ashtabula County.

In each case, problems arose.

Indeed, there’s been enough frustrating challenges that Gander Mountain employees have largely abandoned the WOCRMS process and have gone back to using the more familiar and quicker way of selling tags.

Meanwhile, the check-in process at the Hartsgrove Square station confused my computer-illiterate oldest brother and left me initially puzzled as well.

Last things first. On Saturday, my oldest brother Terry and me visited the Hartsgrove Square BP station to register our respective kills. The store is just a couple miles south of the Trumbull Locker plant where we have our deer processed into venison.

Invited by the Wildlife Division’s helpful staff there to try out the new check-in procedure that will become mandatory next year, both Terry and I agreed.

Terry selected the telephone option while I picked the Internet option. My choice was confused by a couple of points; one being poor instructions about recording a rather lengthy registration number with a seemingly lack of adequate spaces to fill in all of the digits.

Then too, the form’s Internet format was such that it required careful attention to all of the particulars. Among them was not pre-anticipating writing a response before examining the entire set of instructions.

For Terry the affair was far more frustrating. His efforts failed when the telephone call he made to record his information was dropped; this, in spite of the fact that cell phone tower for his provider is only a mile or so up the road.

Which could be a key warning considering that many rural areas of Ohio have poor cell phone reception.

Terry then looked to me to finish the chore via the Internet. Knowing what to look for and where, I was able to complete the task in fairly short order.

On these several prickly points the Wildlife Division staff noted that appropriate adjustments to the system are needed. Which is why the agency is going through the experimental learning process, they said.

Now comes the second point. With me having used up one either-sex deer tag on the animal I killed Saturday, I was needed a replacement permit. That meant a visit to the Mentor Gander Mountain store on Sunday.

Yet in spite of being one of only a handful of experimental stations for issuing licenses and permits with the WOCRMS process, the store employed the older, soon-to-be-extinct issuing model in spitting out my document.

The reason, said the issuer, was that the WOCRMS process is so slow that it can cause a customer traffic jam as holiday shoppers must wait for a hunter to be issued his or her legal documents

Time will tell if the Wildlife Division can smooth out the flawed wrinkles that the WOCRMS process is currently infected with.

But if come next hunting season - especially the firearms deer-hunting season with its crunch of license sales and animal check-ins - these problems are not resolved then it will be the agency’s neck on the block. And $16 million of Ohio sportsmens’ dollars in jeopardy.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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