was commissioned to conduct a national survey of shelter providers to evaluate the feasibility of developing HIFIS for use in shelters across the country and to develop a framework of specifications for such a proposed system.
Given the positive feedback obtained, SPR recommended that HIFIS be developed with shelter input at each stage.
While this phase proved to be productive in terms of community participation and feedback, the real process and work of national consensus building would begin with the formation of the National User Work Group and the participation of the national shelter community in the actual creation and development of the HIFIS software.
Following the national survey, CMHC formed a National User Work Group (National Group), whose purpose was to establish the detailed specifications for HIFIS and guide the software developer in the creation and testing of HIFIS.
After a series of face-to-face meetings with its primary partners, and a number of teleconferences with its secondary partners, CMHC then dedicated the better part of 1999 to HIFIS' development.
In January 2000 the debugging of HIFIS was completed and a senior systems analyst from EDS (one of Canada's largest professional IT service companies) was contracted to assist with the pilot test.
HIFIS was launched in several communities throughout 2000.
The HIFIS Overview Session was designed for delivery to shelter executive directors, senior shelter staff, key municipal and provincial officials and ancillary homeless support organizations, as well as other community organizations, such as the United Way.
The first pilot test of HIFIS was conducted in Calgary, in February, with a three-day program of intensive training, and demonstrations of the HIFIS software for the City of Calgary, its shelters and their key staff.
At this time, however, CMHC provided a demonstration of the software and its uses to the local community, but was forced to delay the launch of HIFIS until a local coordinator could be found.
Based on their experiences in the initial development stages of the software, CMHC found that in order to build a commitment to HIFIS everyone had to participate in the developmental process from the ground up and contribute whatever resources they could to it.
The year long pilot test of HIFIS was instrumental in garnering widespread support for its implementation in the shelter community, as well as among working level municipal and provincial staff across the country.