Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pulling The Cable Tow Into The 21st Century

I was out of the apartment and on the road by 6:00 am yesterday on my way to spend the day in Elizabethtown. You know it’s early when it is still a dark August morning when you start the car. It has been oddly cool this summer so the mist on the windshield stubbornly held on for about a half hour not completely streaking off until I hit the 70 MPH zone on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. All told, including a 20 minute delay due to a nasty car fire just outside of Lancaster, it took about an hour forty five minutes to get to the Masonic Conference Center. Just in time for the day long IT training to begin.

Surrounded by what are now familiar faces, it was an interesting delve into a completely overhauled online membership ad banking system that the Grand Lodge will be rolling out in due time. While we were definitely experimenting with an early version of the site, there are a number of things that, in the end, will be a huge upgrade to a currently antiquated system. Of course, with that said, there are countless holes and many things that will need to be adopted by lodges before the new tools and be fully leveraged.

It was a nearly ten hour day fully of demonstrations and explanations of how the completely unique system and overall way that things are done in a lodge is now being integrated in what is normally a one size fits all Salesforce model. While adjustments have been made, many of us familiar with the company can see where things didn’t quite fit and take note of how various programs and allowances were changed. Needless to say, it will be interesting playing the role of IT support specialist for the district once this is rolled out to all the Masonic lodges in Pennsylvania.

It was also interesting to watch a young group of presenters get up in front of the room and do their best to explain all the systems, capabilities, and programs that they normally pitch to a large company. This was not a crowd they were used to (but handled pretty well) and many of the questions and concerns were pushed back or handed off to Grand Lodge officers. Again, we are a unique fraternity with a system that goes back hundreds of years trying to pull the rest of our brothers into the 21st century. It is going to be a task and a half.

In the end, this is going to be much more than an IT support specialist role that we all play. We are going to basically have to sell this to our fellow brothers. We have to show them, no matter how long they have been a member of this fraternity, the benefits that this new system will bring to freemasonry in the state, the lodge, and especially to them. It is going to be a long haul with a lot of extra work, especially for Secretaries, importing, collecting, checking, and verifying all the data needed to ensure that we all get the greatest benefit possible from this new system. I guess it will just be a matter of time , most likely years, before this actually makes my job easier.