SRCF Tooth-to-Tail


A fact insufficiently often remarked upon is the "tooth-to-tail" ratio of the SRCF, and that anyone ever thinks about it. Briefly "tooth-to-tail" refers to a particular type of overheads: how much it costs to make a sale (e.g., there are advertising costs, calculating a quote for some services work may involve substantial expenditure, processing invoices takes time, etc).

When we were building the SRCF, there was an explicit goal of minimising the amount of effort required to add new users. What we did was gather together the various sources of information we had about the membership: the financial records, the system's password file, and the mailing list, and centralise them in one place. The cost of this operation was a lot of time investigating the archaeology of the SRCF's financial records and building scripts to manage the newly established database, but the payoff was a massive reduction in the amount of effort expended in respect of gaining each additional new member. There's no way the SRCF could have increased eightfold in size under the tyrannical Keegan-Busuttil administration had these transaction costs been much higher.

Nowadays the system is so efficient that some question why the system administrators need to be involved in user account creation at all; certainly CUSU is moving in that direction.