March/April 2012

Transforming the way CIM does business

New CIM portal more than a website

By Wah Keung Chan

The new CIM website homepageWhen CIM’s new website goes live in time for the CIM Edmonton 2012 congress, it will mark the end of the first phase of development and the beginning of phase II in a three-phase action plan. What began as an IT project will in fact change the way CIM operates. “It’s a total business transformation – systems, processes and how people work,” says Jean-Marc Demers, deputy executive director of CIM.

At the heart of this change is CIM’s remarkable growth to more than 13,000 members over the last eight years, since executive director Jean Vavrek took the helm. At the time, membership had declined to between 5,000 and 6,000, and the organization’s system software and internal processes were antiquated.

CIM set about developing more standard operating procedures and policies. “Business has to change to grow, and there were too many databases and lists, and everything had to be updated in parallel,” Vavrek points out. In order to handle larger volumes and react faster, Vavrek felt that the organization’s systems had to be fully integrated and connected.

Vavrek envisions CIM becoming a global leader in technical knowledge, industry standards and efficiencies, and in leadership development for the mining industry. “There is no reason why we couldn’t have 25,000 members in five years,” he says, adding that the number has the potential to quadruple in the future, given the Institute’s global expansion plans.

Meanwhile, there were increasing calls to improve the CIM website’s look and navigation. “That would just have been cosmetic changes,” says Demers. “We realized that we needed to have a fully integrated approach if we were to improve our efficiency. Up until now, the site has been managed and hosted by a third party and we want to enable our staff to take ownership of content and update the site in real time.”

Following CIM’s 2008-2009 strategic planning, Council approved the budget for the project. Management consulted outside experts to assist in identifying the best systems to build a state-of-the-art infrastructure. “We purchased the very best systems and are building our very own Ferrari,” says Demers. The system was initially being implemented by outside consultants, but in fall 2010, management decided to continue development with an in-house IT team, to keep the knowledge and experience within the organization.

The system consists of the database software Aptify to manage all membership and non-membership data, the content management system Sitecore to quickly publish multilingual content on the web, and the document management system Sharepoint to keep control of the thousands of documents within CIM. “Getting the systems to work together has not been easy,” says Gérard Hamel, director of information technology since fall 2010. The national office now has a dedicated team of four focused on the development and maintenance of this new infrastructure.

Integrating the system also meant building a server room at the national office, which serves both the internal network and the website.

What will users experience?

In phase I, CIM members will experience a new blue, yellow and grey colour scheme, developed through focus groups in early 2010, as well as easier navigation. The new system will port most of the current website’s features and will eventually be completely bilingual. Features include the events’ calendar and the ability to purchase items from CIM’s technical papers library. The new site will also be home to a new online version of CIM Magazine, which will enable readers to comment on articles in real time, plus all of the articles will be translated into French.

The site will be fully integrated with the database and a payment system that will provide new members immediate access to enrollment – they will be up and running in just a few minutes rather than waiting 24-72 hours for a CIM representative to email them a membership login. Members will also be able to create a detailed profile and upload a picture with ease. At the same time, the profile will allow the system to keep track of members’ individual privileges.

Future plans

CIM’s Membership Services Department is already refining and streamlining the system to clean up membership data, which will be integrated online. The new system will keep track of members’ purchases of CIM products, including items from the growing technical paper library of proceedings and papers; all papers older than 20 years are being digitized and will be made available.

In phase II, CIM will develop its own event management system to allow registration to our many conferences, and to permit exhibitors to purchase booth space online. The technical paper submission and evaluation process will also be improved. Smartphone users will find the site easier to navigate. Also, an enhanced job board is in the works.

Having a Ferrari does not mean that we can drive at full speed just yet, says Demers. Ongoing training of CIM staff on these new systems is leading to further optimization of our business processes. Attaining the full capabilities of these systems will be achieved through continuous improvement.

Integrated portals for CIM societies, branches and affiliated groups are also planned with appropriate training on the system. “We want to make it easier for CIM volunteers to do their work,” says Vavrek.

Feedback from CIM members is essential to help shape future features. Whether the next step will be to have more news and content, to post videos of conferences, or to develop a tablet version of the magazine, CIM will have the team and the technology to tackle it. While most of the current content is only available to CIM members, Vavrek would like to see more free content available to the public. “We want the website to be the portal for everything mining,” he emphasizes.

2012 is a year of change for CIM: we are expanding our mandate globally as the community for leading industry expertise.

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