Friday, June 25, 2010

Making a Technology Inventory

I'm consulting a client who is in the early stages of launching a new online project. They have covered a lot of the ground that I mentioned in my post on What to Consider Before Starting a Technology Project. I felt it is useful to know what resources they already have access to before proposing options. Making use of existing technology is obviously beneficial for reducing costs and the time to learn new systems, but it shouldn't lock a project into a preset path.

Below are some general areas that are helpful to document. One may not use all of them, but it does provide a baseline of resources commonly used in online projects. This list is geared to beginners, but it is helpful to know this about every client to avoid potentially-problematic assumptions or oversight.

  1. Are you able to post directly to your website?
  2. How do you post? (For example, do you use FTP software, a content management system, or something else?)
  3. Are you restricted in the types of files you can post? (For example, can you post audio, video, PowerPoint, PDFs, etc.?)
  4. Do you have your own dedicated web space?
  5. If so, are there size restrictions?
  6. Do you have web security? (For example, certification, encryption for secure transactions).
  7. Do you have access to your website usage data?
  8. Is there a contact person for website management?
  1. Can you send broadcast emails?
  2. If so, how do you do this? (For example, using MS Outlook, listserv software, etc.?)
  3. Do you currently have a system to maintain your email list(s)?
  4. If so, what software do you use for this (For example, Outlook, web-based service, spreadsheet, etc.)
Online Services and Tools
  1. Do you have, or have access to, and online event/course registration system? Describe.
  2. Do you have, or have access to, an e-commerce system (i.e. a shopping cart, method to process online payments)? Describe.
  3. Do you have, or have access, to a database linked to your website? Describe.
  4. Do you, or have access to, a system for allowing users to log-in (e.g. authenticating users, assigning passwords and usernames, allowing users to update this, etc.). Describe.
  5. Do you have access to any online tech? For example, chat rooms, virtual spaces, discussion boards/forums), polls, surveys, games, etc. Describe.
Third Parties
  1. Do you have any current partnerships or contracts with third parties? (For example, a commitment to using all Microsoft products.)
  2. Have you used any third-party websites for special projects? For example, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, MySpace, wikis, Blogger, SlideShare, Flickr.
  3. Is using third-parties allowed at your organization, even if their advertising may be delivered on your project?
  1. List any internal support people available for online projects. For example, programmers, webmasters, multimedia or graphic designers, etc.
  2. List any external support available. For example, design agencies, consultants, freelancers, etc.
This list is not exhaustive, but I think it captures the essentials. I'd love to hear suggestions for additions or corrections.

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