IT Project: Quarterly Project Update

by Sarah Bradham, Director of Marketing & Communications

The past few months have been extremely busy as work proceeds on schedule for the IT Project. To recap the project for those who are just joining us: A major part of the Mazamas 3-year plan, adopted in 2015, was to reinvent our IT systems to catch up to twenty-first century technology. The database solutions we have been using are antiquated, and much of the data that flows through the Mazamas is not captured in our current database. Data such as class registrations, hiking participants, outings participants, and nonmember interactions with the organization are not tracked in one connected system. This project will solve those challenges by creating a database and website that are connected, in which all activities, courses, and membership information flows through one centralized location.

As you can imagine this is a BIG undertaking. We started this process in 2015 by hiring OMBU Web to work with us to determine our system needs and define the project scope. That process involved listening sessions with committees, discussions with key volunteers, and staff interviews. Through those meetings we built a framework for our new system. Once the framework was developed we set work building the new system. The build will be completed in three phases: CRM & IT Tools, Website, and Activities & Multi-Part Activities.

CRM & IT Tools

CRM stands for customer relationship management. The Mazamas will be utilizing Salesforce as our CRM solution. The benefits of Salesforce are significant. It is an extremely widespread CRM tool that receives constant updates and revisions. It is heavily used by nonprofits as it has incredibly competitive pricing for the nonprofit sector. OMBU has built out the Mazamas Salesforce platform with the custom specifications and features needed to manage our broad organization. As the CRM is the brains of the entire system, it was very important to get it built just right. OMBU is currently fixing some of the last few bugs in the CRM.

Website & User Profiles

Now that we have built the brains of the system, we are beginning the work of redesigning the Mazama website. A website is more than just a static way to get information to a reader. Websites these days need to be dynamic, with up to the minute data, easy accessibility and navigation on mobile systems such as smartphones and tablets, and a customized experience for the user.

We have created a new site map that better reflects what the Mazamas does as an organization. This new design will allow a user to quickly and easily find what they need on our site. Our site map is organized around four main buckets of content—Education, Activities, Community, and Get Involved—as the main menu. An Involvement menu will provide direct access to important points of visitor engagement, including joining the organization, volunteering, and logging in to the site, with a utility menu providing quick access to a fully faceted calendar, site search, and About Us functionality.

Whether it is searching the classes we are offering, finding an activity for the upcoming weekend, or learning about the Mazamas history, the information will be quickly accessible.

Activities & Multi-Part Activities: Connecting the dots

This will the last part of the system to be built, and it involves connecting the CRM & IT Tools and Website & User Profiles to create a robust user experience for everyone who interacts with the Mazamas.

With the new website, a few of the things you will be able to do:

  • Create a profile
  • Manage your Mazama membership
  • Update your contact information
  • Sign up for classes and activities
  • Sign up for a volunteer project
  • Track your volunteer hours
  • Get all information about your class or activity

View your entire history of interaction with the Mazamas (membership history, climb & hike history, education history)

Class Coordinators & Activity Leaders will be able to:

  • Manage activities
  • Manage courses
  • Source volunteers
  • Manage a committee/team members

Propose email communications to a segmented group of people (i.e. email everyone who has taken Advanced Rock in the last year)

This is just an overview of some of the things a user will be able to do on the new Mazama website. We are excited to keep moving this project forward and deliver a great product to Mazama members, volunteers, and the larger community of people who participate with the Mazamas.

March 17 Update From Peter Tung

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by: Peter Tung, IT Project Manager, Encore SVP Fellow

We are making excellent progress on the Website UX Design this week. OMBU presented the global layout and navigation wireframes for the Website Design. Based on the collaboration work for Sitemap and Layout Design, OMBU proposed the wireframes, focusing on Headers, Footers, and Navigation Ux design.

Sarah reviewed the proposed wireframes with many Mazamas stakeholders and received very positive feedback. We provided consolidated feedback from these stakeholders on how OMBU can further improve the user experience.

OMBU is also working on fixing remaining issues with CRM software. We are expecting the revised software next week with the fixes for separate data and time fields. Also, OMBU will deliver the video clips of “volunteer hour” usages to show us how to better use the software.

March 2, 2017 Update from Sarah Bradham

Building on last week’s work in the Website Phase of the project, OMBU delivered version 2 of the site map to the Mazamas. The site map was reviewed and conversation led to several additional tweaks and revisions to the proposed site map. Version 4 of the site map is the version that OMBU will use to build wireframes of the site (wireframe: an image or set of images which display the functional elements of a website or page, typically used for planning a site’s structure and functionality).

OMBU will present the wireframes to the Mazamas on March 9.

We are also beginning work on the Data Collection part of the project. Data Collection involves getting data from a variety of locations, including the current Mazamas Access Database (DB), Mazamas2 hiking DB, climb data from Expression Engine (where our current website is built), and various excel documents and Google docs being used by committees. The type of data we are working to collect in order to populate the new system:

  • Membership Info (held in the Mazama Access DB)
  • Climb Data (some is in the Mazama Access DB, some is in Expression Engine)
  • Hike Data (Mazamas2 SQL DB)
  • Volunteer Data (some is held in spreadsheets)
  • Participation & Enrollment data (some is held in spreadsheets)

In addition to needing to collect the data that we already have that exists in the locations listed above, we are working to create new data to link everything we are building together. In our current setup, none of our “systems” talk to each other. So while we have climb data that we are tracking on our website, it doesn’t connect to our Access DB. In the new setup, the majority of our systems will be connected. In such a relational database, you need to have data that can be easily connected, and in order to do that, you have to standardize and split your data into different tables.

Example:

  • Current system: We have a multitude of Mt. Hood climbs that can be scheduled by climb leaders
  • We have a multitude of Mt. Hood climbs that can be scheduled by climb leaders
  • These climbs exist in one single table, where you enter the climb name “Mt. Hood South Side,” data about the climb including elevation, distance, drive time, etc …

New system

  • There will be a Places table
  • Within this Places table, Mt. Hood will be a mountain
  • There will be an Activity table
  • Within the Activity table, Mt. Hood South Side will be a Climb, and its place will be Mt. Hood, which will establish a link between the Activity and Place table
  • In order to create the Place table we have to create … Places!

The Places to populate the Places table is just one example of a data set that we need to create by pulling together data from a variety of different sources.

We expect this data collection phase to take approximately three weeks, and we are reaching out to committees that might have some of this data in order to get it into the appropriate data migration templates.

We are shooting for having 60% of our data collected by the end of March. At this time OMBU will work to build scripts to migrate the data into the new CRM. They will then push that data into the CRM and we will be able to work with this real data as we test the new CRM, website, and eventually CMS tools.

Over the summer we will continue to work on populating these data collection documents, and we will likely ask for some of your help as we do this work. By the end of the summer we need to have this data 100% ready for transition into the new system. Once we are closer to the launch of the actual site, we will push this updated data into the CRM, replacing the nown old test data.