The winners of this month’s prize giveaways!
We met at ACHIEVA for the last time this year. Thank you again to Nicole and the ACHIEVA staff for hosting us!
Our meeting in December will be the annual holiday party at Dave & Buster’s at the Waterfront on Friday, December 8 from 1-4 pm. We will have our regular meeting over lunch (everyone orders off the menu and pays individually this time), then do a “techie white elephant” gift exchange (bring a geeky wrapped gift under $10, feel free to look for odd stuff in your tech closet to wrap) and then we’ll play a few games including our annual skee-ball tourney (Cindy will bring a few prizes for the winners).
The reminder email will go out next week, so keep an eye out and RSVP for the meeting on the Bayer Center’s website or on Meetup.com when you see it.
Here are the notes and resources from this month’s meeting:
On-Premise vs. Cloud Server
Data Analysis Software
Coax to Fiber
- Coax (for example, like Comcast) – speeds are never consistent, disconnects frequently in high usage
- Coax providers tell you the minimum speed they provide, fiber providers tell you the maximum speed they provide
- Coax is generally faster, but there are many things that can affect speed
- Verizon and DQE also have fiber
- DQE owns the fiber lines
- Check packet shaping on routers/prioritize traffic to keep more important going
- Check into Level 3 Communications (owns the Pittsburgh backbone)
- Click Dimensions – mass email marketing tool that connects to MS Dynamics 365 CRM
- Ask about 30 day trial
- Want to be able to connect to database
- Email templates
NTEN Tech Accelerate
Remote IT Management
We held our last regular meetup of 2016 at ACHIEVA in the South Side. Thank you to Nicole, Steve, Dave and the rest of their staff for hosting us!
Our next meetup will be the Bagels & Bytes Holiday Party at Dave & Buster’s on Friday, 12/9 from 1-4 pm. As in the past, we will have our regular meeting in the dining area (each person buys his or her own meal and Cindy will get some appetizers for all), have a “techie white elephant” gift exchange and then go play some games. A reminder email will be coming out within a week or so.
Here are the notes from November’s meetup:
- Backups are critical
- There’s typically a time period of 120 days from the time something happens until the time it is discovered
- Backups should not by attached or kept close to the main data server or source – need to store copies off-site
- Have a social media policy to combat potential info security compromises in that area – nothing is truly private on social tools
Programs Related to Technology that Employ (or Engage as Volunteers) People with Disabilities & Veterans
- Dave Tinker mentioned a program that ACHIEVA is doing in conjunction with CMU for their residents to perform microjobs online
- Cycle Point (part of Source America and partners with Goodwill of SWPA) employs people with disabilities and veterans (located in DC)
- Computer Reach particularly is interested in finding veterans to volunteer at their org
Salesforce Database Conversions (What to Expect)
- All data gets put into spreadsheets and is then cleaned (usually by the organization not the vendor)
- Lot of effort to go through an implementation like this, but well worth it in the long run
- Best to keep the same vendor contact during the entire implementation process if possible
- There is a learning curve involved but it’s great once everyone is trained and things are up and running properly
- Cool plugin for Salesforce is Gridbuddy – it makes the database display data in spreadsheet format
- There’s an annual conference called Dreamforce
- Katie Gascoine shared a local Salesforce-related event called Dreamforce Comes to You (#DFC2U) that happened on Nov. 14 (sorry I didn’t post this in time!)
AFP National Philanthropy Day
- Example/question given was about an organization moving from paper forms being entered in database to direct entry of data (and the resistance being encountered by staff and volunteers)
- Training is essential
- Important to get buy-in from staff and volunteers, preferably before rolling out a change
- Need support from management – they have to have your back and hold staff/volunteer accountable for making the necessary changes
- Can also gamify or incentivize the change – figure out a way to make it fun
Other Items of Interest
We held our August meetup in the sunny conference room at Jewish Residential Services. Thank you to Paula, Harold and the rest of the JRS staff for hosting us! We will return to JRS for our September 7 meetup, then it’s off to ACHIEVA for October and November.
P.S. TechNow 2016 Conference registration is open and early bird rates are active! Register by September 30 to get the best rate!
Here are the notes from this month’s meetup:
Adding Search to Website
Technology Challenges Faced by New Nonprofits (and Some Suggested Solutions)
NP Tech Skill Set
Custom Software vs. Off-The-Shelf Software
- Hybrid is best- off the shelf that can be customized
- Example: want to process volunteer applications via the web
- Upload PDFs/scans, etc.
- Portal on website
- WordPress Visual Form Builder plugin
- If WordPress site, turn off Google indexing of PDFs in media library by editing robots.txt file
- Spiceworks – network monitoring, management, help desk ticketing and inventory – has concierge service and is free
Finding Nonprofit Tech Jobs
Additional Resources (Shared by Attendees Post-meeting)
Photo credit: Frick Art & Historical Center
This month, we are grateful to Linda Buker and the Frick Art & Historical Center for hosting us in the Frick’s new Community Room just off the Car & Carriage Museum!
I totally forgot to take photos at the meeting (the discussion was engaging!), so here’s an outside photo of the building taken from the museum’s corporate rentals brochure.
Here are the notes and resources from this month’s meetup. We’ll be back at the Frick on May 4 for our next meetup.
Age affecting tech usage in nonprofits
- Younger folks “get” the concepts (ex: cloud computing) more easily because they are digital natives
- There are notable social differences – not unusual to see two young people sitting four feet away from each other and chatting on their phones instead of talking
- Younger generation also:
- tends to have a faster response time
- mixes personal and work
- wants work-at-home and flexible scheduling
Time tracking and the upcoming changes to FLSA law regarding exempt/non-exempt staff
- The question: how does your organization currently track staff time (if at all)?
- Random audits / time samplings
- “Lawyer’s Timekeeper” software if need minute by minute tracking
- Sage/Schneider Downs software
- Sentric software
- RescueTime software
- ADP app – clock in through cellphone app, which is connected to GPS so you can’t fib
- Is there a trust issue at play here? Outside of the new law requirements, should we be tracking time or watching the levels of staff productivity?
- It’s important to be consistent with policies on remote working and work flexibility
Other items discussed
For October, we were pleased to hold our meetup at ACHIEVA on the South Side. Thank you to Steve, Nicole and Dave for hosting us! Our next meeting will be held at the same location on November 4. In the meantime, we hope to see everyone at the TechNow Conference on Oct. 29!
Here are the notes and resources from the meeting:
Upgrading Windows software
- 2003 server upgrades possible (general consensus was “yes”)
- Windows 10 upgrades not very easy (some 3rd party software not doing well on it)
- For adding phones in Google Apps, there’s an app (Google Device Policy) that you can add to devices that connects with your Google admin page – providing a way to control device connection to services
- BYOD policy? Some have, some don’t – varies on the level of access given
Password management system
Office 2016 (and other productivity software)
- Outlook is less “white” and more “gray”
- MS is moving this package to just being called “Office” with no version number in the title
- Pushing Office 365 + Sharepoint server right now
- A preview video is available
- Other (free) alternatives include:
- People tend to resist change and to resort to software with which they are already familiar, so it may take some work to get your org to move away from Office to one of the free equivalents
- Largest risk to data is still employees – accidental or purposeful
- Frequently the ball is dropped between HR and IT, in the sense that IT isn’t notified immediately if someone leaves the organization
Advice for new “accidental” techies
- Don’t feel like you have to know everything
- Don’t expect kudos – you won’t hear so much when things are going well, but when something breaks…
- You have to like to solve mysteries or puzzles
- You need an appreciation and tolerance for lifelong learning
- Users can be very obstinate (machines are easy, users are less so)
- IT is a people business
- Users are the weakest link – don’t enable users who refuse to read instructions
- Find a good stream of tech information and absorb slowly – can’t learn everything at once – 2 hours a week of continued learning is probably sufficient
This month we met at the lovely Frick Art & Historical Center, which now boasts an awesome new visitor center! Our deepest thanks to Linda and the Frick staff for hosting us! We will be back at the Frick for our next meeting on May 6.
Here are the notes from this month’s meeting:
- Upon asking attendees to reflect on their organization’s greatest present tech challenge, received these answers:
- Doing things the same way all the time – always reactionary
- Issues with proprietary content management system
- Running remote meetings with board or staff
- Social media usage – how to do it more effectively
- Budgetary issues
- No seat at the table
- No tech plan
- Need more buy in from staff, leadership and board
- Utilization of volunteers for tech (what’s appropriate to let a volunteer handle vs. a staff member or vendor)
- Managing tech volunteers
- File storage, backup and recovery
- Social media tips
- Always use a photo when posting
- Use shorter URLs (convert with Bit.ly or similar tool)
- Great for training videos on a wide variety of topics
- Microlending/microfinance orgs online
- Event registration tools
- Books on tech planning
- Managing technology using volunteers
- Always good to create a job description with specific skills and duties spelled out
- Know what’s appropriate for a volunteer vs. a staff member vs. a vendor
- Recognize when you really need to make the jump from tech volunteer to paid tech staffer
- NTEN Staffing and Investments Report 2014
- Technology culture
- Is a big challenge for many organizations
- Sometimes fresh leadership causes a positive shift in a stale tech culture
- How do you get people to realize the value of technology and that they really can’t do their jobs without adequate access to computing resources and data?
- UpPrize content
- TechNow 2015 Conference
- Leaked news of the big speakers, not yet announced to public
- Afternoon keynote will be Cody Switzer, Senior Editor at the Chronicle of Philanthropy
- Opening plenary will be Kenya Boswell, President at BNY Mellon Foundation and Matt Zieger, Executive in Residence, Innovation, Forbes Funds
We had perfect weather for our summer outing, Bagels & Bytes on a Boat! A big thank you to RiverQuest and to the riverboat staff who made this meeting possible!
As usual, the Bayer Center gave away prizes during the meeting, including a one-year individual NTEN membership, a NetSquared mug and a bunch of NetSquared stickers! (Thanks, Eli!!)
Note that B&B-Allegheny goes on hiatus for July and will return the first Wednesday of August at the usual time. We’ll be meeting at Rodef Shalom in Shadyside.
Here are the notes from the meeting:
Generational Differences and Tech
- The younger generation knows tech, the older generation knows business need.
- Both generations can learn from each other.
- Doesn’t work well with Windows XP.
- QuickBooks support, however, is really good. They will help you with workarounds if needed.
Local Tech Vendors
Other Tech Vendors / Websites
- If your org is mostly or wholly cloud-based, you need excellent Internet speed.
- The cloud isn’t for everyone. You have to be okay with being heavily reliant on your Internet connection and on the third party software or hardware providers.
- Important to find reliable cloud-provider companies.
Funding the Cloud
- Capital vs. operating expense
- Tech-wise, nonprofits aren’t much difference from small businesses. Where they differ the most is that businesses tend to be better about having a tech plan and about budgeting for tech.
- More difficult to get grant funding for operating expenses like cloud hardware or software. Foundations tend to look at those expenditures as the cost of doing business.
Other Topics and Ideas
- BoardBookit – board collaboration and management software (cloud-based)
- Tech Committees are a good practice for all orgs. It’s important to put together a diverse group of people across organizational functions and with varied skill sets.
- Office 365 – the migration is reported to be pretty smooth. Cost is ~$4.50 per user per month and can be purchased at TechSoup. Rollouts go best when staff is prepped in advance and provided with training post-migration.
- Lantek – provides informational sessions on Office 365 periodically.
- Re-Use Technology Collaborative
- Office 2013 – slight difference in menus (saving files, etc.)
- There is an MS SharePoint group that meets monthly in the Microsoft building on the North Shore.