Yes, IT is coming!

  Recent (and quasi-regular) outages of US Chess information technology (IT) services prompted me to offer a preview of our efforts to upgrade our US Chess IT infrastructure. Last summer, US Chess signed an agreement with Skvare, an information technology firm that specializes in assisting nonprofit organizations with their technology needs. Skvare was selected as a result of a competitive bidding process announced in February 2019. The RFP sought proposals from firms that specialize in deploying CiviCRM, an open source customer relationship management platform. We selected Skvare based on their expertise with Civi and their approach to learning from and working with their client organizations. This infrastructure upgrade has been many years in the making. Our current systems have served us well for a very long time. We are grateful to Mike Nolan, former US Chess IT Director, for his continued involvement in keeping our current environment up and running while offering his expertise to the Skvare team during this transition. Since August, Skvare has been working with US Chess to learn about existing capabilities, workflows, and idiosyncrasies within the US Chess IT environment and designing and developing a new database and related services. Skvare’s efforts, and those of Boyd Reed, the US Chess Project Manager for the IT upgrade, have resulted in Phase I being on a track for completion between July 7-9, 2020. Here is a summary of upcoming changes that are expected for the July release:

  • Deployment of CiviCRM for contact and member management, financial transactions, and activity tracking
  • Data integration between CiviCRM and our current event systems
  • Website integration with CiviCRM featuring a new Single Login to systems, partially updated Member Service Area (MSA), and a unified TD Affiliate Support and Members-Only Area
  • Improved Governance capabilities via a Collaboration Site, Complaints/Appeals Tracking, and Election Management
  • Streamlined communication tools and tracking for bulk email, automated emails, TLAs and third-party mailings

We are looking ahead to the following changes and improvements in Phase 2 and beyond:

  • Event Management
  • Enhancements to the collaboration site
  • Forums and private messaging
  • Reporting and analytics
  • App development

We are pleased to report that all of the Phase I requirements are on schedule for the July launch, as are many of the Phase II requirements.

How will this affect you?

Much of what is being done in Phase I is an upgrade to our underlying database infrastructure and less visible to you. In July, your member data will be served from our new database. You also will be able to access US Chess information systems through a single log-in, requiring that you reset your current US Chess login credentials. The TD/Affiliate system will be revamped, the TLA system will be upgraded for simpler submission, and a new complaint tracking system (for Ethics, Rules, TDCC, and other sanctioning committees) will be deployed.  In addition, Civi provides US Chess staff improved access to organizational data and can assist members with better information in the future. The new systems will offer familiar interfaces that are consistent with today’s design principles and will offer important security upgrades for member data. A new website overhaul will come with Phase II. In the lead up to the early-July launch, we will share additional previews of what’s coming through a series of blog posts. We look forward to continuing this project into Phase 2, where our public-facing presence on the web will be updated, along with additional US Chess services. Thank you for your patience as we undergo this important infrastructure transition to better serve our members and the chess-playing public.  

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