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I'm involved in a LUG that's made orders in each of the LUGBULK programs that have run. Determining what goes into each order has proven to be a nightmare, with all sorts of email-spreadsheet-ad hoc solutions that led to various combinations of huge expended effort, errors, misunderstandings and recriminations.

Given rumours of the commencement of the 2013 LUGBULk program are floating around, now's a great time to find out how my LUG can do better this time. Is there a web site we can use, a program of some kind? Should we just have one member decide what we'll order? Some happy halfway between autocracy and democracy?

What solutions are there to organising a LUGBULK order?

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FYI, your link to LUGBULK requires additional authentication to access. –  GlenH7 Jan 7 '13 at 12:07
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2 Answers

Ultimately, you'll probably have to come up with your own solutions, but I think the main issue is to pick which parts to order, as the number is usually limited and your LUG members all have different views on what to pick.

Here are a few line of thoughts:

  • Have each member pick one favourite part, or more (so you can attribute the second one if there's a duplicate or something). This will probably be the worst solution, since you'll end up with a set of parts which may be totally unrelated to each other, and in which most members don't recognize their choices.

  • Do the same with more parts, 5 or 10, then try to reduce the list somehow to what LEGO is willing to accept (asking the members to vote on parts, maybe?). Can be a cumbersome and lengthy process, but at least your LUG members will feel more like they have a say in the process.

  • Have the persons in charge of the LUG pick the parts themselves. This can lead to a good cohesive set of parts which go well together, but you'll risk that some members don't like your choice. For example, you may want to pick all 1xn tan bricks and plates, all 1xn dark red bricks and plates, a few door/windows and roof tiles. Great for house builders, less great for Technic nuts.

  • Try to combine the different solutions. Maybe you have members in the club with a different status (we do have regular and "effective" members, for instance, for people who choose to be more involved in the club); or maybe you can attribute points for event participation (we did that once to distribute some free loot we had gotten from somewhere, and it proved to be an interesting system), so that people who are more involved in the club get more points. Then maybe more involved people can pick more parts, or participate ina global discussion process.

  • Rotate themes. This time, we'll do houses, next time, Technic parts. Promise, honest. Cross my heart.

Once you have picked up parts, you'll have to pick quantities. There you'll also need to ask members for their input, either committed or not. Our club always buys a bit more on its own money, which members can buy directly afterwards. Handy when the club committee picks up the parts themselves, but your treasury needs to be able to cope with that.

As for the organizational side of things, as you say, excel files may be very cumbersome; but I'd advise to stick with them. You may be tempted to develop a custom web site, for example, but keep in mind it will require maintenance, and that usually means someone has to be devoted to it, and be able to work on it fast enough. If you have such a person, great. If not, don't bother too much.

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For our Lug, we have assigned one person who is the contact for all things LUGBULK and is also responsible for the organization of everything. (He also happens to be the one who will spend the most). We followed this general format to keep everything organized.

  1. At the most recent club meeting, we agreed on those parts that the club needed for upcoming projects. These get the highest priority.
  2. Once we received notice of LB2013, we asked all of the members to submit their information needed to register and to get an accurate count for Lego. We gave our members 10 days to get this in.
  3. Within 5 days, each member was allowed to submit up to 10 part requests in order of priority. Each member is also required to submit the ElementID along with each part in order to make things easier.
  4. The person in charge of LUGBULK for us merged everything together and removed any duplicates. If we were over our maximum of 100 elements on the wishlist, things get removed that were likely to be declined, or that would be cheaper on BrickLink or PAB.
  5. The wishlist is submitted to Lego.
  6. Once the approved list and prices are returned to us, we create an excel sheet of available elements and add in columns for BrickLink color names and current BrickLink prices and send it to all members.
  7. All members are required to send in their orders within 7 days.
  8. The coordinator merges together the orders and sends to Lego.
  9. Once the LUGBULK order is received (on a pallette :) ), the coordinator pays Lego directly, divvies up the orders (or we have a sort party to do it) and then each member pays the coordinator.
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