Today I’m hosting the Bi-monthly PASS Regional Mentor meetings and I thought this was a good time to publish an update and get back to blogging about PASS on a more consistent basis.  Its been an interesting last 6 months leading the PASS Global Chapters portfolio and I expect it to be an interesting next 6 months as well!

RM Travel

Previously I wrote about getting a budget exception to provide funds for RM’s to attend PASS events and hopefully learn some lessons about how we can best implement a program like this.  With the end of PASS’s Fiscal year on June 30 we ended the RM travel program.  I believe we learned some very good lessons and provided some very valuable support for some PASS events.

Some basic statistics

11 RM’s were able to participate and they attended

  • 9 Chapter meetings
  • 6 SQL Saturdays

Overall I wish we would have had better participation (this is about 33% of RM’s) but, given the timelines we had because of the nature of the budget exception as well as the parameters we put on the allocations per RM for this trial this was about what I expected we’d have.  We got some great feedback from the RM’s on these trips and I was especially appreciative of the feedback from RM’s that wasn’t the kindest and was brutally honest.

Chapter Tools Redesign

Ill admit to finding it mildly ironic that for as long as I’ve been a member of PASS we’ve had what I’ve often chalked up as “Data” problems.  When building the blueprint for reworking the Chapter Tools my main goal was to provide great tools to better enable chapters to grow local communities & host great events.  My secondary hopes were that in creating these tools that many of these data problems would be resolved by the ability to have one version of the truth.

In some ways over the last 3 months I’ve been disappointed with the amount of “visible” work that has been available to chapter leaders in the tools.  But, since I’ve been having at least twice weekly meetings with PASS IT from the beginning I am confident that things are going as fast as they should be.  I think its worth going through some of the challenges weve run into thus far if for no other reason than to remind myself what happened later!

We’ve hit a couple of detours that I didn’t account for in my expectations for the tools.  PASS had several different DNN portals at several different versions.  This is the basic explanation for why some chapter sites werent in single sign on and had other assorted issues where some chapters had functionality that others didnt.  This Included one particularly interesting issue where some chapters had different lists of “members” because some members were in the chapters portal sign on and others were additionally in the main PASS sign on but the chapter leader couldn’t contact (or see) both lists!  With the varrying DNN modules in use on over 150+ chapter portals PASS hosts, to get this consolidated and upgraded was no small feat.  Today all of the groundwork has been completed and we now have a single DNN Portal with a single DNN version in use across all of the chapter sites.

We also had an outbreak of data issues (remember where I mentioned this earlier!) What we found was we had quite a lot of outdated data about chapters, including which ones are active and what their actual leader contact info is.  This problem is a product of growth over the years and not having a system like the one we’re building to house all of the relevant data… This problem has been handled in some ways but, is still ongoing and PASSHQ is working on identifying the problems so we can fix them once and for all.

We also made a decision to build some webservices infrastructure now vs building it later in the project in order to have that infrastructure upfront instead of waiting till later to build it and retrofitting things at that point.

In addition to all of this we also had a couple of false starts with the outside web designer and the design of the public facing changes that the chapter tools will be feeding in to.  I’m optimistic that these have been resolved as we’re currently seeing good progress from that perspective

All in all these problems havent been huge but, they have impacted how long I expected it to take us to start making changes that would be visible to not only the chapter leaders but the PASS community at large

Chapter tools Beta

If you’re a chapter leader, today the beta of the chapter tools changes can be seen if you log into the PASS website and click on the “Chapter Dashboard” menu under chapters.  The basic idea has been to replace all of the current CMM module features and enhance them as we move them over to a dashboard type interface.  Today there is basic chapter profile editing, Chapter mailing list uploads/updates. As well as a new chapter bulk emailer to send messages to the entire list of your chapter members.  If you have any comments or questions about these changes feel free to contact me.

In a (near) future post Ill outline a list of expected features that I’ve been compiling for this tools project.