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by Belinda Naylor-Stables

Developing a new content-managed website is an exciting project management challenge. Your site developer will have a project manager and it's a good idea as a client to have your in-house project manager too. Here's the first of 3 blogs to help keep your eye on the ball with these tips from an experienced project manager.

Kick off with a great web specification

If your bids or tenders provide a loose specification they will result in a vast range of cost responses – and it will be difficult to judge which web developer meets your needs best. Ideally, involve potential users from the start. Ensure their views are canvassed on what is required even BEFORE you draw up a project brief or tender. This helps you draft a detailed set of requirements and avoid changes further down the line. Changes are worth avoiding because they inevitably add to your costs and possibly reduce what you could achieve within your budget.

No U-turns

Get the design signed off early on and don't allow others to come back on this later. Changes to visual elements may be difficult and costly to implement - adding disproportionately to the cost.

Anticipate problems and use an Issue Log

Once you've decided on your web developer, agree a communication plan before the project begins. Share phone numbers, emails, Skype addresses and holiday dates. Know the different levels of communication that need to go on and who to contact about what. For example, strategic and resource management, project issues and planning, plus user testing and feedback all involve different people at different levels. Collaborative sharing of key project documents works really well for contact list, plan, detailed specification, Risk Register (aspects of the project that could cause difficulties or delays) and Issue Log (the record of issues that arise with a record of how they have been resolved).

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Cartoon from UCAN

Church administrators let the UCAN network take the strain!

Congratulations to our membership organisation client, the UK Church Administrator Network (UCAN) whose numbers went through the 700 barrier yesterday, almost exactly three and a half years after the network was set up.

The UK Church Administrator Network (UCAN) links people employed by their local churches as Administrators, ranging from a part-time Church Office Assistant up to a full-time Director of Operations in some of the UK’s largest churches.

Launched in May 2009 membership has grown steadily to over 700 today with a current growth rate of 175 pa.  Everyone joins online.

The network is run by church consultant John Truscott from an eZ Publish website, designed and hosted by EAB.  The Administrators’ section offers an online database, a range of specialist resources such as a remuneration survey and audio files, web forums, details of area training events, annual conferences and bimonthly e-mailings.

UCAN is now starting to establish local groups and a distance learning course.

While much of the success can be attributed to the positive word of mouth John receives about his services, he has worked hard to market the network:

  1. Data marketing:  He used a mailing list of larger churches in the UK to get it off the ground.
  2. Market research: He used the internet to research churches with administrators on their staff by checking out websites and making email contact.
  3. Promotional events: He ran a continuous series of area training days with discounts for members and getting these publicised to churches through various networks.
  4. Content marketing: John loaded his website with many useful free resources covering all aspects of church organisation: his website now has over 100 items freely available.
  5. Customer communication: John distributes a bimonthly e-newsletter and maintains an active Twitter feed to promote resources to followers.

Andre Bottin, lead consultant at EAB, comments:  
“UCAN is a shining example of how using eZ Publish can help run a really effective membership organisation online with the minimum of human resources. John Truscott uses it to maximum effect to co-ordinate the work of UCAN and communicate with members. Used effectively, eZ Publish can become the powerhouse of any organisation, large, small or rapidly growing. The potential for continuing membership growth is considerable. EAB's client-centered approach and eZ Publish's flexibility and scalability have helped UCAN grow and will continue to support growth in the future.”

The UCAN membership organisation is hosted on the John Truscott website.

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