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October leaves are flying here in the Southeast, and the days are flying by, too.  The month has totally gotten away from me!  I apologize for the delay in sending the October issue of TechTips. I promise to be back on schedule in November.
 
The current state of the world economy has our clients asking about ways to save money.  This month's RoadMap looks at Web Content Management Systems, and the TechTip discusses a great free conference call service. 
 
If you have a question about another possible way to save money, please ask.  It is very likely that someone else will have the same question.  I will try to cover as many questions as possible in future newsletters.   
RoadMap: Will a Web Content Management System Save Me Money?
Roadmap

Businesses and non-profit organizations are constantly looking for ways to save money on their operations.  One question we are often asked is whether a website content management system would save an organization money.  Unfortunately, the best answer that we can give is "It depends...".
 
First, let's define Web Content Management System (CMS for short).  A CMS is a database-driven website, which uses templates to maintain a consistent look and feel while allowing individuals responsible for creating website content to update the website content themselves, without the help of IT personnel.  Sounds good, doesn't it? 
 
The right Web CMS can save your organization time and money, improve internal and external communications  and help to increase revenue.  However, a Web CMS is not for every organization.  To decide if it is right for your organization, you need to be very clear about what problems the Web CMS will solve and what other benefits you hope to gain.  You must also make sure that everyone is clear about and agrees to the workflow changes that will be required to make the Web CMS a success. 
 
One of the major benefits of a Web CMS is that you should be able to keep your website content more current since content updates do not go into the IT queue.  But, someone has to update your web content.  Simply offloading this task to other, already overburdened employees, or to employees who have no interest in learning this task, will not be a satisfactory solution.
 
Once you decide that you are going to use a Web CMS, the process of installing it and getting your current website migrated to the CMS is not a simple one...
  1. Someone or some committee must define the requirements for your content management system. Most organizations will need IT or a consultant to lead the software selection process to help to match their requirements to software products that meet their needs and fit within the organizational budget.  Commercial Web CMS software packages can be very expensive and complex to install. 
  2. The committee has to look at a variety of Web CMSs, select the systems that best meet their requirements, contact the software vendors, and view demos of the systems that they are considering.  They also must have the technical savvy to determine whether the vendor is showing them a fully functional software product or is showing them vaporware (software that will be modified to meet their requirements once the sale is made--not a good thing).  
  3. Once the final software selection is made, the contract must be finalized, and the software must be installed on your servers.
  4. Then, any software modifications will be made to provide additional functionality that you have specified in your contract.
  5. If you have chosen one of the popular free, open-source Web CMSs (Joomla, Drupal), someone in your IT department or a consultant will make the modifications and install the software on your servers.
  6. Next, the CMS manager will be trained to load the content of the current website into the CMS.  Personnel who will be tasked with changing website content will also be trained on how to make changes.
  7. Finally, the CMS website will go live.

 Installing a Web content management system is as much about managing people as it is about managing website content.  Unless everyone involved in the project is convinced that the Web CMS helps them work more efficiently and effectively, your project will not be a success.

If you would like further information about this topic, please contact me.
SmartSite Technology serves as a virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
 
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Sincerely,
 
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology 
October 2008
In This Issue
RoadMap: Will a Web Content Management System Save Me Money?
Your Tech Tutor Says...
 
Free Conference Call Service
tutor pic number 1
In the current economy, few of us have travel dollars to spare, but we often need to meet with colleagues who are located either across town or across the country.
 
At SmartSite Technology we are using FreeConference to connect with our remote partners.  We are very happy with the quality of the calls...and the price is definitely right.  It's free!! 
 
FreeConference allows you to pre-schedule and manage conference calls or to make conference calls at any time without previously scheduling the call.
 
We have found the service to be far superior to the three-way calling we have tried to use in the past to meet our conference call needs.
 
Check out FreeConference to see if this service is right for your organization!!
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