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The report presents highlights of the excellent and important work that our team carried out last year on behalf of and in service to you, our staff, partners, and clients in Ontario.

2023 was an exciting and busy year with plenty of challenges, opportunities, and ultimately success stories for Information Technology Services team.

Our goal is to provide customer focused service, optimized cloud-based technology services, optimized in-house application development, and enhanced skills and competencies of our team to best serve our user base.  All this, in addition to providing core infrastructure services such as desktop and server support to keep our staff productive.

I would like to highlight that underlying all the activity and our accomplishments in 2023 was a fundamental commitment by each and every individual in IT to want to serve OSCIA to the best of our ability. I have no doubt in my mind, that our greatest strength is our people. I consider myself extremely lucky to work with a group of highly committed, hard-working, skilled professionals who strive to do their best, and produce great results, in what is a very dynamic and challenging environment.

We hope this report will give you a good overview of what was achieved, although it is only the tip of the iceberg. There were many other accomplishments that occurred behind the scenes.

Membership Platform

Membership Release 1.7 was released in July and 1.8 was released October of 2023.

Release # 1.7 was focused on a redeveloped, redesigned, and much improved Membership Dashboard to address improvement opportunities raised by local secretaries and RCCs. The membership-members list is one of the most important data tables that is used by admins, local secretaries and RCCs to view, edit, manage, and maintain the details of members associated within local/region.

This release brough some foundational changes to the membership members list in terms of functionality, the layout and display of records. Some of the previous redundant pages were discontinued and replaced by interactive pop ups.

Using this new admin panel, the membership record keeping can occur directly in the data table using the In-Line Edit functionality, thus improving administration experience. Some enhancement improvements that were introduced are bulk update functionality and soft delete functionality.

On the current member dashboard, we have also introduced the access to discount codes.

This new table has been brought in place to address the issues that were raised by RCCs and local secretaries in request to make the system more functional.

To ensure a seamless release we offered virtual demonstration\training sessions to the secretaries and RCCs to ensure they were able to get familiar with the new functionality before it was released.

Release 1.8 focused on introducing 2 new types for memberships,  honorary membership, and youth membership type.

Youth Membership was designed to offer membership benefits to members who are 23 years of age or younger. Under this membership type, a youth member fee will be reduced by $25. Honorary Membership was designed so that an honorary member receives their annual membership for free. However, the local associations are still obligated to pay the provincial $25 fees. The option to select this membership type is only visible to Membership Administrators (Local Secretary/RCC), individual members are not able to select this type of membership. Group Email functionality was also improved within this release.

OSCIA Program Guide

The OSCIA Program Guide is designed to showcase a catalogue of programs that OSCIA delivers. Farmers navigate to this site to find the right cost-share opportunities for their farm. The content found on this guide provides detailed program information, including application intake dates, project category information, eligibility criteria, and information on how to apply.

We initially started off with housing only one program on this site OFCAF. Since then, we have built in additional programs: SARFIP, Honey Bee Health Initiative, Agricultural Stewardship Initiative,  Resilient Agricultural Landscape Program, Maple Production Improvement Initiative.

In addition to the additional programs added we have also introduced the “Compare” functionality that allows the client to select up to 3 project categories and compare in a simple table view.

OSCIA Portal

OSCIA Portal is a centralized one-stop-shop Portal with the intent to provide our clients an enhanced user experience while looking to register for educational workshops and explore or apply for available cost-share opportunities. 

The database architecture and the front-end codebase of this new system was completely redeveloped focusing on performance optimization, scalability, and increased security.

The entire infrastructure has been redesigned to not only modernize the code to current standards, but also to streamline the user journey as our clients navigate our systems.

In our previous systems for each program a client wanted to apply for they needed to enroll their farm business. The new system has been streamlined to facilitate single enrolment a client which they can then use to apply to any upcoming cost share programs.

The application for each program\intake has been aligned as much as possible to ensure consistency between programs.

The client dashboard has also undergone a complete redesign to provide better guidance and simplified navigation.

Our systems are intended to work together seamlessly with a consistent and uniform interface where our clients recognize our brand and can easily navigate the path to reach their goal.

OSCIA Website

While the website was launched in 2022, we continue to enhance it based on feedback we receive, or as new information becomes available.

Since our go live, we have implemented a few improvements such as:

  • Contact us page navigation and search functionality where searchability for Region and Local was added.
  • Location search was expanded to include Client Service staff information along side of Local Secretary and Local president contact information.
  • Automatic synchronization between the workshop website calendar and the workshop platform (when a Workshop leader schedules a workshop it automatically appears on our website. Upon filling to capacity, the workshop will no longer appear on the site for registration.)
  • Event Synchronization between the membership platform and the events calendar
  • Introduction of new pages such as Honey Bee Health initiative, Agricultural Stewardship Initiative,  Resilient Agricultural Landscape Program, Maple Production Improvement Initiative.

I would like to thank the IT staff for their dedication and all their efforts for completing many initiatives this passed year.