At their meeting in March 2000, the ELCIC National Church Council recognized a need to build an integrated information management system to streamline the day-to-day operations and communications between the National Office, the Synod Offices and congregations and members. NCC allocated the funding required to build the system that would meet that need. The ELCIC has partnered with IBM to design and build the new system named RASMUS after Rasmus Jensen, the first Lutheran pastor to arrive on the shores of Canada in 1691.
During the design phase, a working prototype of RASMUS was developed and demonstrated to the National and Synod office staffs and a sample group of congregational representatives. Feedback was sought from these user groups during a two day consultation in June in Winnipeg and the resulting suggestions were incorporated into the design.
The design of the system is now complete and the build phase of the project is well underway. Extensive testing of the system, training of the staff and writing of Help documentation will begin in October. The National Office will be the first to be up and running on the new system by late November with the Synod Offices following early in the New Year. Congregations will be rolled out once the National and Synod Offices are functional.
The custom applications that have been developed include:
- A human resource application to manage the clergy roster and lay employee information, and the mobility and call process
- A contact list application that is a central repository of current contact information to be shared by users across the church
- An events registration application to facilitate the planning and management of events and gatherings across the ELCIC; and
- A congregational membership application that will assist congregations in managing their membership lists, tracking key information about their membership and simplifying the capture of annual statistics (parochial reports)
The information that will be tracked by the congregational membership application will still be able to be manually collected and submitted for those congregations who choose not to participate in Project RASMUS. However, the steering committee is confident that the application will be of great interest to all congregations once they have seen its capabilities!
The RASMUS Project is based on IBM's Lotus Notes technology. Lotus Notes offers a cost-effective environment that is very well suited to the needs of the church as defined by the representatives of the three user groups. It not only meets the specific application needs but is also flexible enough to meet the diverse needs of mobile users, congregations, Synods, and the National Office. Lotus Notes offers out-of-the-box security, database replication, Internet connectivity, and a cost-effective application development environment. In addition to the custom built applications, Lotus Notes will also address e-mail, calendar scheduling, and work collaboration needs.
Lotus Notes will be available for purchase from the National Office in the coming months and the cost will include a subscription fee for the custom applications. Further information regarding cost will be available in the next issue of Communique but we expect the price to be similar to the retail price for Lotus Notes software but with the included value of the subscription to the ELCIC custom applications.
IBM has determined the hardware specifications required to operate the Lotus Notes based custom applications at an acceptable speed. Users with computers having less than these specifications may still be able to run the program, but may be frustrated by the slower response time. The applications were developed to operate in a PC environment, however, the tests performed to date have indicated that most of the applications can also operate on a Macintosh platform. Testing continues and further information will be available soon. The specification list is as follows:
- Pentium class processor, 400 MHz or faster processor speed
- Windows 95 or newer
- Floppy drive
- CD Rom
- Video/Monitor capable of at least 800 x 600 resolution
- Minimum 64 Mb RAM
- Minimum 4 Gb free disk space after all other applications are installed
- Internet connectivity (at least 56Kb modem but cable modem or ADSL would be preferred)
In order to support congregations who need to purchase computer equipment or upgrade existing systems to utilize the new applications, the ELCIC has entered into an Affinity Program with IBM. This program allows all individual members as well as congregations of the ELCIC to purchase equipment from IBM at special prices with a financial advantage to the ELCIC. In order to take advantage of this program, you can 'Click, Call or Come In' as follows:
- Click: www.ibm.ca/store/lutheran A website designed especially for ELCIC members
- Call: 1-877-426-4727
- Come in: To the nearest IBM store in your area.
To receive the special pricing, please mention you are a member of the Lutheran Church and quote Tactic Code #6C0ARZ0E. Also, please feel free to reproduce the ELCIC/IBM flyer included in this issue of Communique and distribute it widely. You may also wish to advise your congregational members about this unique offer by including the Clipper ad about the Affinity program in your Sunday bulletin.
You can find further information about the RASMUS Project on the ELCIC website at www.elcic.ca. or by contacting the RASMUS steering committee by email at email@example.com or by fax at (204) 984-9185.
Published in the Fall 2000 issue of Communiqué