The MyU3A Network - What it is and How it Operates
Many U3A have experienced varying levels of difficulty in finding suitably experienced people to replace the retiring volunteers who run their computerised administration systems. Other U3As have had a problem in finding a suitable computerised administration system.
To solve these problems, several U3A banded together to organise a commercially-run facility using 'cloud' technology on a secure private server. This minimises support costs and provides a very advanced and comprehensive generic Administration and Management facility specifically targetted at U3A procedures with the capability of being scaled for U3As of all sizes . This has been implemented as the MyU3A network. The name "MyU3A" is the modern trend to notional ownership by participating U3As like MyAccount and MyStore.
The MyU3A Network is operated and supported by a large Australian specialist IT company with several hundred clients. They keep it running 24/7 and look after all the technical stuff for us. Our local volunteer User Support Team drawn from all the participating U3As looks after implementation for you and provides direct and informed support to our U3As. This is not only a solution to the succession problem but assures long-term viability at an affordable cost.
This approach has proved to be very successful over several years. Now other U3As are encouraged to join and share in the success and the low operating cost essential to a volunteer organisation with limited sources of funding.
What is the MyU3A Network?
- A secure private enterprise grade server (very high quality and high speed) computers located in a central location - using the latest "Cloud" technology
- U3A Members can access the MyU3A Network at the U3A Office, at home or on the go using any desktop or laptop computer, I-Pad/Android tablets, smart phones or the more recent "Surfaces".
- The general public can investigate the offering of their local U3A via each U3A's public web site and can even apply for membership and request a place in classes using the optional on-line enrolment processes.
- The MyU3A Network incorporates facilities to assist each participating U3A to obtain new members
- The only App needed to access the MyU3A Network is an ordinary web browser and the relevant permissions and authority. All specialised Apps and Software components are located in the "cloud".
- The cost of operating and supporting the MyU3A Network is shared between the U3As using it, being allocated on a per member basis. As more U3As join the network, the service charges to each U3A will reduce.
The Origins of the Software Powering MyU3A
- In 2010, U3A Geelong experienced the "continuity" problem: the member who had produced and supported over the previous 10 years the computer system used for administration wanted to move on, but no replacement could be found. A U3A member through a friend eventually contacted the principal of ICARIS Services, a division of Bactgold Pty Ltd toward the end of that year who agreed to provide an on line solution.
- In 1972, ICARIS Services developed what was in those days a very revolutionary operating platform for mini-computers where many companies in the same industry could operate on a single software package on centralised servers. Today, that concept is referred to as a "Cloud" environment. The concept was realised by developing a series of generic software components which could be configured to carry out the specific business processes required by companies in specific industries. This concept was applied successfully over many years in several major business sectors.
- After studying the business processes involved in operating a U3A, the appropriate software components were selected and configured to run all U3A core processes. The solution was implemented just a few weeks later at the end of 2010.
- Early in 2014, two other U3As adopted the same solution to manage their administration.
- In August, 2014, it was decided to form a co-operative and invite other U3As to solve their exposure to the "continuity" problem by joining in. The MyU3A Network was born.
- ICARIS Services has donated a software licence for the U3A-configured software base to the MyU3A co-operative free of charge. To produce an equivalent set of software components starting out today would cost (conservatively) somewhere between $1 million and $1.5 million.
Operation in the "Cloud"
- All processing is carried out on a secure centralised private server operated, maintained and supported commercially. Security and maintenance services are only required at this central location so overall costs to U3As are minimised and availability and security maximised.
- Software and manuals are located on this central server, so consistency and tight version control can be maintained - further minimising both disruptions to processing and servicing costs.
- The databases belonging to each U3A are held in secure compartments on the server with no ability for one U3A (or anyone else) to gain acccess to the information belonging to another U3A without their permission.
- Each U3A has autonomous control over their operations, security and the allocation of authority levels of access by their own administrative and management personnel
- If records were held on a computer in your U3A office, it takes only a few seconds for someone with a small amount of knowledge to plug in a memory stick and walk away with a copy of all your information.
With MyU3A, your databases are located on a centralised server in a secure environment, so there is very little chance of this happening. This is the ultimate level of security and privacy for your data.
- Automated individual backups of each U3As live database are performed hourly. Each evening each U3A's database is backed up and stored both at the main server site and transmitted simultaneously to another server located remotely as an added precaution against fire and other means of destruction of the main server. A further copy is sent daily to each U3A.
- Covers all the core business processes pertinent to U3As.
- Interfaces to financial accounting systems
- Scalable from the smallest to largest U3A. New U3As get off to a flying start.
- Service costs are minimal and highly sustainable for all sizes of U3A.
- Automated processes are available to upload your current electronic records. (A moderate charge may apply)
- Classes for the previous year, the current year and next year can be actioned simultaneously. This greatly simplifies progression from one academic year to the next
- allows planning and enrolments for the next year while the current year is still active
- allows the previous year to be completed after switching to the new year (e.g. roll marking)
For more information:
- Operation and Cost Advantages
- Business Processes
- Other Apps
- Support Services
- Where to from here?
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