IT and Exam Updates: Your Patience is Appreciated

Hello members,

As we speed past the midpoint of 2022, I wanted to update everyone on a few items related to improving our IT infrastructure and current exam grading times. We’ve received some inquiries from concerned members asking why there are some longer-than-usual exam grading and IT database updates, so I’d like to take an opportunity to provide some context for the current state of affairs. The main point: Your patience is appreciated as we work to stabilize staffing, recover from multiple staff illnesses and retirements, and undertake to modernize our IT infrastructure. 

On the IT side, our IT directorate has been scoping out the work necessary to modernize our IT infrastructure, including process mapping many of our complex processes to identify functional requirements as well as opportunities for efficiencies. This work is time-intensive, and additional illness within the IT staff also created some added delays earlier this year. As IT continues to work on the database modernization project, which they’d dubbed “New Day,” we have brought former IT Director and President Emeritus Gordon Strong back into the fold on a contract to temporarily manage the legacy IT database while Bruce and James work on making a New Day a reality. The legacy database is a complex one-person endeavor, so it made sense to bring Gordon back instead of trying to train a new person on a database that will soon be decommissioned. This was the quickest way to stabilize the legacy database updates. The goal here is to ensure we get back to our standard cadence of at least monthly online database refreshes until New Day is ready to go live. Many of our processes depend on the online database updates, including when members receive their exam scores and competition points recorded to their member records. 

On the exam side, we are unfortunately seeing many exams take longer than six months to close out and get updated in the database. While the more frequent database updates discussed above should help, our exam grading process is dependent on multiple volunteers (exam administrators, graders, translators, exam directors, etc.), and delays by any one person, often to due unexpected circumstances such as COVID, unexpected personal situations, etc., can create bottlenecks that delay exams. The unfortunate reality is that COVID is still with us and we are still seeing COVID-related impacts in our grading timelines. 

That said, we are continuing to work to stabilize our staffing after several resignations/retirements over the past year. We are currently adding additional associate exam directors to help better manage the workload, and to prepare a better pipeline of potential future exam directors to replace recent and upcoming retirements. 

While longer grading times have not been uncommon throughout the BJCP’s history, as many long-timers will confirm, we do strive to close out exams in a 3-4 month timeline. So, as we work to get back to that goal and stabilize our staffing and infrastructure, I ask that you provide some grace and patience. It is my hope that we are having a different conversation by the end of this year as New Day is implemented and new staff are onboarded and integrated. 

Feel free to contact me with any questions, and I hope to see some of you at HomebrewCon Pittsburgh!


Dennis Mitchell, President

Beer Judge Certification Program, Inc.