Beacon Supporters from across Britain met in Birmingham on Tuesday, 10th March to learn about the Beacon Upgrade and to help plan its rollout.
The supporters had a chance to meet the independent consultant who’s been advising the Third Age Trust on the project as well as representatives of APT Solutions, the provider of Beacon Update.
It was a full and stimulating day but there’s no doubt that the most eagerly awaited session was a demonstration of the platform onto which Beacon will be upgraded. The APT representative demonstrated the Membership and Interest Groups parts of the system, showing us what a membership secretary or groups coordinator is likely to see when their U3A receives the Update.
The system we saw was not the finished version, but first impressions are that Beacon Update looks more modern and less cluttered, and is at least as easy to use as the existing version. What isn’t immediately visible is that behind the scenes the new version meets modern accessibility requirements, is more secure, and is easier to enhance as the needs of U3As changes.
An important session saw the supporters split into groups, with each considering a part of the Beacon Upgrade project: testing, documentation, supporter training, roadshows, and rollout. Each group, having discussed their subject area for some time, then passed their findings to a different group so that further thoughts could be added. After each stage the groups presented their analyses to the entire meeting.
The result of this process was a comprehensive set of points raised by the supporters that will allow those planning the Upgrade project to ensure that it meets the needs of the U3As.
The meeting achieved its goals: By the end of the day the supporters had been made to work, but now knew considerably more about the future Beacon than they did when they arrived. Perhaps more importantly, the project team working on the upgrade were left in no doubt of the needs and concerns of Beacon users as the changes get closer.