Nov 23, 2017

ChiefThe Big News from Charlottetown is that CPS-ECP has a completely new IT System!!! It is being tested and getting ready to be rolled out to all our Members by the end of the year. When Terminal 1 was completed at Pearson Airport in Toronto, before the public was allowed in, everything had to be tested. That meant every light switch, every tap, and every conveyor belt had to be turned on. All the toilets had to be flushed all the escalators ridden. That's where we are with our new IT system.

As I write this, testing is being done to make sure all the new IT functions work as they were designed to do. As we raise the curtain on 2018 (and our 80th Anniversary Year) we will also raise the curtain on our new IT system (which includes but is way more than just a new website).

At the AGM, the CPS Foundation provided C/C Robert Pepin with a cheque for $125,000 towards the cost of the new IT system. The Foundation contribution will cover about a third of the budgeted cost. The spontaneous roar of appreciation from the AGM audience said it all.

Three principles governed the design of the new system. First, it will take a maximum of 3 clicks to get to the information you seek. Second, you will enter information only once. For example, when you enter your profile information, until you change it, it will automatically be used when you sign up for a course, renew your membership, or an instructor enters your marks. Third, no training is required to be able to fully use the system. Finding what you want and where you have to go with your next clicks will be obvious. (Your bank doesn't provide you with an online manual so you can log in to manage your accounts.)

At last year's AGM, C/C Robert Pepin promised a new IT system for this year's AGM. A lot of volunteers spent hundreds of hours fulfilling that promise. We had to get help to figure out what we needed (and to distinguish needs from wants). Then we had to translate what we wanted into something we could ask a supplier to provide (design an RFP). We hired Grant Thornton to help us. Known as an accounting firm, they provide this kind of consulting to charities. Grant Thornton gave us a short list of suppliers they had pre-qualified. In April we hired Innovexa, an IT firm in Toronto, to build our system. They had 6 months. (Last fall, a number of IT consultants told us we couldn't possibly build a completely new IT system in a year – we didn't listen to them.)

Then the work began. We had to go through our existing system and identify 3 kinds of information: Stuff we didn't want, no matter what; stuff we did want; and stuff we wanted but which had to be updated/corrected. We also had to make sure the material we wanted was available in both languages, which we did from the beginning. To make sure we didn't leave anything behind, we matched English and French texts. (At one point C/C Robert Pepin found 4 blocks of text that had no English equivalent.)

Our new system has 3 parts: There is a public page for Members and non-members. Then we have an "Officer's Dashboard" which provides Squadron, District and National Officers and Committee Chairs with various access levels. A Squadron Officer will be able to see what is needed to do the Squadron job. Similarly District Officers will have access to Squadron and District material. National Officers will have a wider range of access.

Squadrons and Districts will have their own web pages on the new system. The standard template will make it simple (easy) to post courses and the course descriptions will be standard. The Executive information will be on the site. Squadrons and Districts will also be able to post their own social events, news, pictures and any other information they want to share.

When the new system rolls out, and will become "gateways" to our new website. All the approved courses and seminars which are now on those sites will be transferred to the new system. We will have ”one-stop” shopping for people interested in any of the educational events we offer across Canada.

Member Directories will be a snap. When each Member fills out their profile, they will have the choice of being in a directory or not. They will also be able to choose what information they want to include. Members remain in control of what, if any, information about them is available to other members.

Innovexa made two presentations at the Conference, one on Friday, October 27th, and a second presentation, on Saturday, October 28th. Conference attendees could see the new set-up and appreciate first hand how easy it will be to navigate the new system. The feedback they provided was very positive, and in fact, some of the questions they asked have helped refine some of the elements in the new system. My thanks to those who attended the sessions and participated in discussions with the Innovexa representatives.

Members will receive updates as the roll-out progresses. When the system "goes live" Members will be able to log in and will be invited to update their profile. What will be different will be the "look" and the ease of use. But this isn’t the end of our renewal of our IT system – as we use this new system, we will find things we want to improve. We will have a process to capture the feedback from users and determine what enhancements we want to make.

The other new and major event at this year’s Conference was the attendance of the District (and some Squadron) Membership Officers for a session designed just for them so that they could discuss the various membership issues, and share best practices, concerns and ideas. They got together, first for a closed session with Jim Harrison, a facilitator who has worked with CPS-ECP before, and then for a meeting open to all so that additional input could be collected from the general Membership. The DMO's have developed specific plans for Membership retention and for attracting new members, which will be introduced over the coming year. Periodic reports will be provided so that we can monitor progress and adjust our approaches as needed.

For specific details on the ExCom, Board and AGM events, the minutes are posted on our website.

At the AGM kick-off for our 80th Anniversary Year, we recognized Members who have 50+ (2 Members), 40+ (33 Members), and 30+ (97 Members) Merit Marks. Those 132 Members have earned 4,738 Merit Marks! That’s at least 95,000 hours of volunteer time. If staff were hired to do that work, it would represent some 2533 weeks or 53 work years, in replacement of volunteer time.

Some 43 of our Members achieved Life Membership Status.

Four Squadrons celebrated their 60th Anniversaries since our last AGM: Alouette Squadron, Pacific Mainland District; Royal City Squadron, Pacific Mainland District; Prince Edward Squadron, Quinte District; and Nanaimo Squadron, Vancouver Island North District.

Escadrille Lac St. Francois, District Cartier celebrated their 50th Anniversary.

Details about the recipients of our National Volunteer, Educational Department and Environment Awards are outlined in the Port Hole and L'escaleNautique.

Four Members received Chief Commander Citations from C/C Robert Pepin: Tony Merry, Don Griffin, Nancy Richards, and Walter Kowalchuk. The Citation details are available on our website.

Retiring National Educational Officer, Executive Committee and Board Member, Don Griffin received the Joseph Gatfield Award, given by the Executive Committee for outstanding volunteer leadership.

On behalf of all of the Directors, I want to express our gratitude and thanks to all our CPS-ECP Members who are committed to using their most precious resource, their spare time, to support our various activities, and advance our mission, vision and values to make boating in Canada safer for all of us.

Overall the Conference was a great success and the location was fabulous. The Charlottetown weather was amazing, mostly high teens and low 20's. (The lousy weather didn't hit until the Monday after the conference.) The Island Hospitality was warm and welcoming. And, Yves Dauphinais and his team, together with National Conference Chair, Tracie Berekoff, and Executive Director, Walter Kowalchuk, delivered an outstanding conference. Thanks again to all of them.

Next year we will close out our 80th Anniversary Celebrations at our next AGM in Ottawa. I hope you will be able to be there.

Chuck Beall, AP
Chief Commander