As part of its marketing strategy, Investors Group wanted to build a marketing portal that allowed each financial advisor to have a personal content site, and they turned to Yellow Pencil to build out the platform.
Investors Group hoped to reach a point where individual consultants could self-manage marketing activities in a way that was modern, effective, and sustainable. However, because marketing activity is highly regulated in Canada’s financial sector to protect consumers, the solution also needed to be governed by powerful workflow and audit tools that would enable legal and marketing experts at Investors Group to ensure that all content met strict compliance standards.
Our mandate was to create a web publishing system that would power the InvestorsGroup.com website and the consultant marketing pages, making it manageable within existing resources and well-suited to the technology environment.
- Build the InvestorsGroup.com website, powered by a web content management system, and available in both of Canada’s official languages.
- Create a consultant web-page builder application that allowed consultants to access web marketing tools.
- Ensure that all consultant-generated content followed a strict workflow path and audit trail so that Investors Group’s marketing and legal teams could ensure content compliance at all times.
- Automate the build and update of consultants’ online capabilities, including creating new profiles as part of the onboarding process, archiving profiles for consultants who leave, and increasing the capabilities of consultants who hit performance goals.
Overall, it was a complex publishing system with equal emphasis on design compliance. Just the kind of project where we thrive.
Since our role was primarily technical on this project, we didn’t deliver our usual design deliverables. But as always, we find that our technical team works well with creatives because we’re used to working in cross-functional teams every day here. We partnered with OpenText to use its Web Site Management application to power the content management and workflow requirements, and then extended the system to add some of the missing functionality.
Our role on this project was to handle the technical implementation, but the system needed to automate a series of processes governed by many internal systems. That meant our first task was to develop a data model that would represent the many internal systems.
We developed a functional requirements list in collaboration with both IT and marketing team members and then worked with the legal team to ensure that the workflow and content requirements kept Investors Group within a strict compliance framework.
We also met with the design team regularly to ensure that we understood how they were planning to present content and to make sure that our development plans were aligned to the needs of every stakeholder.
Our development window was iterative, and we regularly released code to Investors Group so that the teams could perform compliance, security, and performance testing.
Working closely with Investors Group’s IT team enabled us to create a high- performance implementation of OpenText WSM. The system needed to publish an extremely large website — each of the 5,000 consultants could have many pages and resources — so the total page size of the site was more than 100,000. We needed to optimize the publishing process because the site could undergo many changes per day, and each publisher needed to aggregate content from external systems.
Workflow within the OpenText product was a major advantage for Investors Group, since each content change had to be reviewed by marketing and legal, and then signed off by a VP, so we held workshops with the executive team to ensure that the interface was optimized for quick decision-making, and that we weren’t creating any wasted effort in the process.
Because there were up to 6,000 non-technical content authors using the system, it was important that the user interface was very simple. In addition, Investors Group wanted to integrate content authoring into the web portal where consultants already knew how to log in and interact with other systems. Using the powerful API in OpenText, we built a completely external content-authoring interface that could be deployed in remote systems, but that had secure access to all of the features of OpenText such as digital asset management and content workflow. This reduced their training and support costs and gave consultants one less system to learn and access.
Investors Group uses Google Search Appliances in its data centre, so to create the powerful, custom meta-data driven consultant search interface, the team shipped us a GSA that we installed on site to use for development. We were able to extend GSA to give new customers powerful search and discovery tools to find consultants in their area and who speak their language. Our team’s expertise in user experience, development, and system administration means that we can take on complex projects that involve servers and applications and deliver a great end product.
Deployment and hosting
One of the success criteria for our project was that Investors Group needed to be able to fully manage the solution with existing server infrastructure, and with existing resources. We were careful to not just design a system that met its goals but to build something that we could hand off to Investors Group’s team to manage.
We brought several of Investors Group’s key technical people to our Edmonton headquarters over several months and did deep-dive workshops into the technology with them, helping them to understand not just what we’ve built, but how the OpenText platform works.
While the system itself is complex, Investors Group has been able to fully manage the system since launch, with very little intervention and support from us. We like to share, so we were happy to teach them the skills they needed to thrive on their own.
What's up next
Based on the success of our project, Investors Group’s sister company, Mackenzie Financial, decided that Yellow Pencil and OpenText were the right fit for them as well. We worked closely with Mackenzie to build and launch its own web marketing portal, and the results have been excellent.