Bagels & Bytes Meeting Notes – April 2015

The new visitor center at the FrickThis 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)
  • Lynda.com
    • 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
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Bagels & Bytes Meeting Notes – May 2014

Haller House on the Frick campus

Haller House at the Frick Art & Historical Center.

This month was our final meeting at the Frick Art & Historical Center this year.  Thank you once again to Linda and the Frick staff for hosting us! Join us next month for Bagels & Bytes on a Boat, located on the RiverQuest boat Explorer near the Carnegie Science Center!

Here are the meeting notes for May:

For the Reading List

Social Media

  • What is the shelf-life of a social media channel?
  • As long as the company is making money, will probably stick around.
  • Look at what teens are using to see what’s up-and-coming

Zero Day Vulnerability

  • Discussion about which orgs have applied the IE patch to date.
  • Most are communicating instructions to staff via email.
  • Also need to deal with the Windows XP security patch, which we suspect many orgs are still using, including government entities.
  • Can probably keep using XP machines if stay unconnected from the Internet.
  • Several people reported having good experiences with upgrading older PCs from XP to 7.

Hosted Raiser’s Edge

  • Costs extra for this version, but is nice to have Blackbaud worry about data backups, security, etc.
  • It is good to have a redundant Internet connection (multiple ISPs), particularly if using a lot of apps in the cloud.

Phone Service/ISP Providers

If you could tell your board anything about technology at nonprofit, what would you say?

  • Even though technology isn’t splashy (doesn’t get your org’s name in the paper), it’s still important and it needs to be funded, even if it’s not causing problems.
  • Need to make the investment in infrastructure.
  • Tech touches every piece of what every staff member is doing – it’s critical.
  • You can’t assume it’s working well just because it appears to be working.
  • Tech isn’t like a utility – you can’t flip a switch and it magically works.
  • Technology evolves. An org has to stay on top of it, keep evolving with it and investing in it.
  • The board shouldn’t micromanage the tech function.
  • The board should/could look at technology investing as part of its legacy to the org.
  • Board members can be champions for technology – advocating for it.
  • Techies push the wave, need to be the board thinking about tech.
  • Organizations should have a technology committee.
  • Have to find balance between budget oversight and over-scrutiny.
  • Reporting tech-related outcomes to the board at least once per year might be beneficial.
  • Sometimes tech staff sees something that could be done with existing tech, but needs backup / tech plan / support from the E.D. and board.
  • Tech should be given a seat at the table, not be housed under the CFO or finance department.
  • An organization can have the grandest program ideas in the world but still need tech infrastructure to make anything work.
  • An org can never sit still with technology – it evolves too quickly. Orgs constantly have to be scanning and looking ahead.
  • Best to chip away a little each year at tech needs and projects, rather than let them pile up and overwhelm the org and its budget.
  • Never assume that your org is “done” with tech.
  • IT has to be allowed to take risks in order to move the organization forward.  Failures can sometimes happen and boards can be risk-averse, but risk is part and parcel of IT otherwise stagnation can result.
  • An org should never do tech for its own sake.  Always look at the business needs first.

Bagels & Bytes Meeting Notes – April 2014

Haller House on the Frick campus

Haller House at the Frick Art & Historical Center.

Thank you to Linda and the Frick Art & Historical Center for hosting at Haller House this month! I forgot to take a photo of the group, but I did manage to find a nice pic of Haller House online (right).  We’ll be meeting at the same location next month, first Wednesday, same time as usual.

First, a quick reminder from Johna, as posted in a recent TechSoup newsletter:

“We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. Windows XP will not receive security dates and therefore will no longer be HIPAA compliant. The time to upgrade is now.”

Cloud & Productivity Software

  • Office 365
    • Multiple devices
    • Now have iPad version
    • $4 per person + $2 for OneDrive
    • Available through TechSoup
  • Concerns over going to cloud and the subsequent shift in expenses from capital to operating.
  • Some orgs really pushing for monthly donors so have more unrestricted funding with which to work.

Archiving Files

  • 7 years legal limits for saving, but most orgs also want to keep historical data.
  • Look at process on paper side for file retention and retain that process, just translate it to digital files.
  • It’s important to have a retention policy and an archiving process.
  • Archiving software: ApplicationXtender
    • One local vendor for this is CompuCom
    • Easy retrieval of files
    • Can email files from it
    • Can search easily
    • File format is Tiff (so can annotate)
  • Still need to have a staff person with designated responsibility for the archiving process and maintenance.
  • Sample document retention policy:  PDF format or MS Word format

BYOD vs. Organization-Owned Tech

  • Someone mentioned a correlation between how organizations have handled health insurance – when company pays for benefits, people tend to go to doctors way more often and some people abuse the benefits completely.  Perhaps if organizations took the approach of co-ownership of tech or having staff pay for some of the costs, they would take better care of the technology?
  • If staff members pay for their technology and maintenance with a stipend, they tend to take better care of the tech.
  • Have to get staff to take responsibility for their tech, especially their knowledge and learning.

Hiring Technology Staff (for non-technical people)

  • What questions to ask in interviews?
  • How to evaluate answers?
  • Group brainstorm:

Managing Technology (when you don’t have internal tech staff)

  • Someone mentioned the Circuit Rider model of tech support from years ago, asked if anyone was still doing this.
  • Most attendees agree that it’s better to have a relationship with a vendor – a support contract of some kind – so that you get all the expertise of the firm when you need it, rather than relying on a single person to have that much knowledge of complex technology and so you aren’t left in dire straights if the person moves away or otherwise becomes unavailable.
  • The Bayer Center maintains a directory of vetted vendors who provide technology services to nonprofits.

Social Media

  • Shifting usage – living your life in the real world, rather than online.
  • A few interesting articles along these lines, just to give you a sense of how people are beginning to think about social media:

Bagels & Bytes Meetings Notes – February 2014

Bagels & Bytes attendees sitting around a conference table having a lively discussion about technology.We held B&B-Allegheny at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh this month. Thank you to George, Mercy and the CMP staff for hosting us!

We will return to the Children’s Museum for next month’s meeting on Wednesday, March 5 (8:30-10 am).

Windows XP Migration / Upgrading to Windows 8.1

  • Support to be ending for XP in April 2014
  • Some not wanting to go to Win8
    • Desktop vs. main screen
    • 8.1 upgrades sometimes fail
    • Still feel like Win 8 is buggy
    • Can revert – make 8 look like 7
  • TechSoup has Windows 7 upgrades available (32 and 64 bit)
    • TechSoup also has the Software Assurance program – a 2 year window where you can obtain licenses for updated versions of software you’ve purchased through TS
  • What about giving old Win XP PCs away to staff or otherwise?
    • Recommend sign off a hold harmless agreement
    • Make sure wipe hard drive properly
  • RAM mostly going to be issue – many times can upgrade
  • Win 7 wipes old operating systems, does a fresh install
  • Window Easy Transfer tool is helpful
  • Don’t see value for 8 if no touch screen
  • Can add a program called Classic Shell to revert Win 8 to older look and feel
  • general consensus that IT staff are still getting numerous help desk calls about Win 7 – there is concern that upgrading to Win 8 will only increase help desk calls
  • Win 8 seems more geared to personal users
    • Win 8 has a different method for connecting to a network – Map Drives no longer there
    • No more file paths, have to search
    • Geared more toward the non-techie, it seems

File Transfer & Cloud Storage

Donor Management Databases

Social Media

  • Should/does it fall under Marketing or Tech?
    • Content support – marketing function
    • IT – for integration w/ website etc.
    • If small shop, sometimes have to do both
    • Different skill set for each side, content and technical
    • Facebook and other Ads – should come from marketing’s budget
  • Social media policies are a good idea (sample policies available here)
  • Social media committee also useful way to manage it
  • Google places – have to get verified
    • Can “claim” address etc. & include logo & keywords

Office 365

  • Desktop component
  • Online component
  • Office 365 info sheet for nonprofits (thanks, Johna!)
  • 2013 “Cartoonish” looking
  • Exchange 2013 lacks public folders (mailboxes instead)
  • NPOs get discount ($4.50/user per monthly)
  • Can access apps offline
  • Get bigger exchange mailbox
  • Better collaboration included in 365, but easier for tech savvy folks
  • Capital vs. operating expenditures (Always a concern)

Backups

Document Management Systems / Board Portals

Bagels & Bytes Meeting Notes – September 2013

We were small but mighty again today.  🙂  Here were our topics of discussion.

TechNow

  • October 24, 2013
  • Breakouts and speakers have been posted to the website.

SMARTBoard

Deep Freeze software

  • For computer labs or visitor computers
  • Vendor is Faronics

Discounted Software

Speaking of TechSoup, B&B is now a NetSquared affiliate group!

Dependence on cloud technology

  • Pros and Cons, definitely
  • Great when working
  • Crippling when goes down (or lose network connectivity or electricity)

Discussion of social networking

  • Some people’s constant need to post updates and photos (self-validation? self-esteem?) – collectively, we don’t really “get” this.
  • Can a person truly multi-task? Or do we just think we can do it?

B&B Meeting Notes – Feb. 6, 2013

We had a great time on Wednesday morning at the Children’s Museum of Pgh. and a productive, informative meeting!  A big “thank you” to George, Mercy and the Children’s Museum Cafe for hosting & catering our meeting.

Meeting Topics and Resources

  • Social media questions
    • What networks? Linkedin? Facebook? Twitter? Blog?  (Find out where your audience is.)
    • Personal vs. professional – a persistent question.
    • Slideshow: 10 Social Media for Business Myths.
  • Virtual servers
    • Is one physical server/computer that has been partitioned at the hard drive level to function as two or more separate servers (they share hardware resources, but have separated disk space and operating systems).
    • VMware:  “How Virtualization Works.”
    • It’s good to have a second server (physical, not virtual) to back up the virtual one(s).
    • Benefits – you can allocate hard drive space as needed, assign disk space “on the fly,” upfront costs are a little higher but the overall long-term costs are lower (less servers to replace).
    • VMware has a feature – ability to move servers to another server easily.
    • When should you virtualize?  Generally if you have three servers or more, you should begin to consider it.
    • Backups / disaster recovery – people typically use external hard drives or cloud-based backup.
    • Sonic CDP (stands for “Continuous Data Protection”) is a good backup tool.
    • Mobile app for remote access called 2X Client.
  • Internet service providers (ISPs)
    • Connectel is a local isp/phone broker, they get paid in commission by telecom companies, so orgs pay nothing to get their assistance.  Local rep is Doug Dembiczak / ddembiczak@connectelinc.com.
    • Considerations: having a redundant internet line, shared vs. dedicated, up/down speeds.
    • Free online speed test available.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) issues
    • Agency-owned vs. personal?
    • Who pays?  For equipment?  For data plans/service?
    • Important to have a policy for this.
  • Data/file system housekeeping policies
    • If your org has a document retention policy, use that for guidance on digital files.
    • Ok (and frequently necessary) to set limits on staff’s storage space.
    • A method for archiving email must be found.  Gmail is easy, Outlook and other programs are trickier.
    • 7 years seems to be a standard timeframe for keeping most docs, but check with your org’s solicitor for guidance.
    • Duplicate File Finder – free software that will go through your file system and find/display duplicate files.  Can be installed on a PC, doesn’t have to be the server.
  • SharePoint

Our next meeting will be at the Children’s Museum, Wednesday, March 6 (8:30-10 am).  Hope to see you there!

The 2013 Bagels & Bytes Meeting Calendar is here.

Bagels & Bytes on a Boat – June 2012

On June 13, we had our annual summer outing, Bagels & Bytes on a Boat!  The perfect weather and great bunch of attendees made for a fun and informative event!  Check out this great-looking bunch:

Bagels and Bytes attendees sitting around a table smiling

Notes/discussion from the meeting:

  • Social media strategy and management
    • You have to “hook” people with the story.
    • Having a consistent voice is a big challenge.
    • Have to figure out social media goals first and foremost.
    • Some orgs have the community in place and have to figure out the story, while others have the story down pat but must work to engage the community.
    • How much time to spend?  Who will do it?  (Who can/will appropriately represent the voice of the organization?)
    • Sometimes there’s a fear of the message getting out of hand.
    • Monitoring helps – if you make time to do it.  It can be dangerous if you don’t watch social media messaging constantly.
    • Social media can be reaffirming for your dedicated supporters.
    • People want to connect with people, not brands or orgs.  (Article “New Research: Americans Hate Social Media Promotions“)
    • How do you make it personal enough?  (Goes back to the idea of storytelling.)
    • What’s the ROI?  Need for measuring this.
    • Staff wasting time on social media is a HR/performance issue to be addressed with policy and education.
    • Facebook search can be more effective than Google search – includes extended and more personalized search results.
    • Book (was door prize):  “101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits: A Field Guide
  • Email
    • We are load shifting our messaging from one type to another.
    • How to best manage email load?
    • Everyone has to make a decision on how you want to be communicated with and “train” others to that style

Reminder: we have no July B&B meeting. Our next meeting will be Wednesday, August 1, at Rodef Shalom in Shadyside from 8:30-10 am.  See you there!

View the 2012 Bagels & Bytes Calendar.