Advantages between scouting apps vs. sheets

So I’m new to FRC and scouting in general, but our scouting team was told to decide between using a scouting app via phones and laptops versus using the old school pen and paper sheet method. Do you guys have any input on the advantages and disadvantages of each system and which one you think our team should use, also if you suggest the app approach could you possibly suggest an app to use. Another note, our scouting team would have 7 to 8 people if that helps.

What isn’t important is how you gather information what is important is that you gather information that will help you as you go to perform in competition. Scouting is the ability to gather data that you can bring to a conversation on how to do the most in a match. I have a voice recorder on my phone that I use for note taking when I don’t have pen or paper. Pen and paper is my go to

An easy, reliable system is just tracking the basics of quantitative data on paper, then inputting the data into an excel spreadsheet.

We were shortstaffed for scouting at IRI 2014, so all we tracked was successful high goals/attempted high Goals and successful trusses/attempted trusses.
That’s all the information we really needed.

Lastly, while a fancy tablet system is cool to show off and uses less paper, if something goes wrong with programming or anything, the data is lost. Pen and paper scouting systems are infallible, even if your excel database explodes.

Until someone dumps a Coke on it, or it falls over the edge of the stands…

Nothing is infallible. If you can design a quick entry electronic system, so that way as you’ll save time overall. Paper systems are unwieldly but simple. Data entry is very time consuming. You have to decide what you can accomplish with your resources.

Fair enough :smiley:

I agree that some data can be occasionally (albeit rarely) lost. However, since we switched to tablets, the quantity and quality of our objective and subjective scouting data skyrocketed. Students were so much more willing to enter data on a tablet than write much on a piece of paper. Also, much easier to read than a teenager’s handwriting. Having fast access to the data means providing information that could be crucial to the drive team.

These are all key reasons we switched to entirely electronic scouting. With all of our data compiled into one database, we’re able to sort through and filter everything however we want.

This also allows us to print match reports and robot snapshots at competitions, and makes scouting/strategy meetings much more efficient.

We truly switched to tablets this year, I was in charge of getting the app up and running (we opted for WildRank). We had some minor data loss, mainly due to students lack of experience with the app. I also overdid/overestimated the data we truly need this year, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts all you really need is stack hight (for 1st stack, 2nd, 3rd…), any failures in placement of game objects, what was accomplished in autonomous, and a note on their human player. (additionally we keep track of negative info (like lost comms or tipped)). There will be some major cutback on what we track for the Central Illinois Regional, ground litter will no longer be tracked, time spent making a stack will no longer be tracked, participation in co-op and will be noted, but not tracked, and few other minor things will fall by the wayside.
In short, you need less data than you think.

Our team switched from paper to electronic over the last couple years, and the electronic system is far easier for everyone involved. Making the scouting form is now a fun side-project for programming (see this year’s at The form is run on a laptop or tablet, and the results of each match are compiled into a .csv (comma separated value) file. That project also includes an excel spreadsheet with macros to import the .csv files and to compile them into a list of average values for each team. There are many other similar programs that teams have made publically available, some probably much more professional than ours.

I remember doing paper scouting, and it wasn’t fun. Our team will probably be using electronic scouting for a long time to come.

To avoid the handwriting problem, my scouting sheets are almost all “circle this” or “put a number/tallies here”, with a notes section at the bottom

Well taking a bit out of Horseracing …I’m doing all my scouting by hand and eye.

There are key metrics I have laid out and I personally like looking a sheets with color coding to see the whole picture at once.

I’ll see how I do with this method then evaluate app options next season

If you just need something fast, scouting apps are probably the way to go. If you are worried about doing analytics, (our public scouting app), is adding some built-in analytics later this week.

Another thing that I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet is scout motivation. I have scouted two years on paper and two on tablets and phones and our team found that our scouts liked scouting on the tablets/phones because it felt like a video game to them.

While this year is a weak year for scouting, there is always next year. The sooner you can figure out what your team wants to use, the faster you can deploy it next year when you might REALLY need it.