Non-Profit Software Shopper

I spend a lot of time analyzing the capabilities of software. One, clients expect you to know that stuff without you billing them for it. Two, I live in fear of assuming a piece (or combination) of software won’t do what I promised. It also can be fun – as window shopping can be.

I bumped into the analysis Gareth Tucker did for a super-small business, yesterday. Here’s another for larger businesses (prices seem to be in New Zealand Dollars). Here’s a concerted effort to serve a business’ complete needs with Google Apps.

A friend showed me Bellstrike a silly-simple website building platform for non-profits, today. This is all good stuff that I wanted to give mention. Think strategically before making these choices or bring someone in who’s trained to do so.

Deeper Into the MS Cloud

Since writing a piece on my interest in Microsoft’s new cloud offerings, I’ve been spending lots of down-time learning Office 365 (SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync) and MS Dynamics CRM. I’m fine with open source and Salesforce projects, but they don’t motivate me to stay up late investigating something like an integration scenario as Dynamics has been. I’m really into it – exploring how non-profits, professional services, events management, real estate management, plumbing company, and call centers Dynamics solutions work. MS plans to add Intune and CRM to the Office 365 plans in the next 6 months.

Disposable Websites

I’ve managed WordPress website projects that take a whole year to launch with re-design, multiple custom themes, data transformation, data presentation, and (you probably guessed) complicated internal politics. But I do love a website that goes from idea to launched in  few hours. This last one went like this, “You’ve done all this great research over the past year. You’ve emailed it around, but it’s not getting covered in the press. People ought to be able to link to your work on Twitter and in news sites. Can I just post all the email content on a web site?” Boom. 3 hours later, I’ve bought a name, put up 11 posts, added users, gotten approval, and launched a site. The domain and hosting is $17 per year at wordpress.com. And it not even ugly!

Infrastructure Planning – Simplify, Automate, and then Integrate

In March I wrote up: Quick Set Up of Fledgling Biz IT which described the quick brochure-ware site I put up with/for a client. That client and I have been meeting since then to work out his business plan and strategy. Yesterday, I presented a back office infrastructure plan which included everything from who he will use to buy domains, to his webcasting method, to how his accounting will connect to his Customer Relations Management system. Most of the services are cloud-based and billed monthly. Continue reading “Infrastructure Planning – Simplify, Automate, and then Integrate”

Using HubSpot and Office 365

I’m finally signing up a customer/partner with my brother’s (now huge) company HubSpot.com and with Microsoft’s Office 365. We’re going to be linking up MS Dynamics CRM and integrating quite a few services into this new site. You’d think that customer would be run by younger folks but no; this is a company run by a guy around 60 who sees the social media marketing light. I’ve always been a fan of HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing program but have never implemented it until now.

Also, MS Office 365 is launching tomorrow. I’ve been studying and testing this service for months and hope it takes off. It’s essentially all the technology  infrastructure a company needs – offered as a cloud service with a monthly fee per-user payment model. (If you bring on temporary summer or holiday employees, you can pay for a $2 to $24 subscription to onboard each employee for only a month or two.)  I love adding arrows to my quiver.

Started Testing Office 365, Small Business Server….

I admit it; I’m a Microsoft Office Live Small Business fan. It’s like a Version 1 or V1.5 product, BPOS is like Version 2, and Office 365 is like V3. People often say that you should expect Microsoft to have a product down by V3. Office 365 has similar functionality to Office Live Small Business in the Office 365 Small Business edition but with a different interface. Yes, Office Live Small Business has SharePoint Online and Exchange Online functionality – even if no one used it. Continue reading “Started Testing Office 365, Small Business Server….”

Small Biz MS Exchange Options

I had a company on MS Office Live Small Business. We set their email, contacts, and calendaring system up a few years ago on a hosted MS Exchange Server through 4Smartphone.com. It worked great. When MS came out with what they call Hotmail Exchange ActiveSync late last year, partially to save some money, we moved them to that system with similar capability. Because MS Office Live Small Business is built on Hotmail, you can run Hotmail Exchange ActiveSync into MS Outlook. You set it up though the Hotmail Outlook Connector. Hotmail Exchange ActiveSync lacks task syncing but otherwise works great.

When MS Office 365 comes out later this year, all MS Office Live Small Business users will be moved to that system. It’ll cost a bit more but include a lot more functionality. We’ll look at changing this company to over to Office 365 hosted Exchange Server at that point.

Quick Set Up of Fledgling Biz IT

I set up a website and email system for a fledgling business last week in about 3 hours. I sent some options with pros/cons and then Skyped the founder. He showed his desktop and clicked through some links. We chose to buy the web domain and hosting from WordPress.com. WordPress.com makes it easy to set up email through Goggle Apps. I helped the founder click through the sign up process, and we chose a site template. He went away to write up the content while I set up the site and email.  The next day, I posted the content and Skyped the founder. He showed his desktop, critiqued the site, learned how to post, and signed into his pre-existing Gmail account. We then went through how he is now receiving his company name email into his Gmail , can send from the new company domain address, and tweaked the site. The domain, hosting, and email comes to under $15 a year in one payment. It was refreshing to get something going without complications.

Office 365, Intune, and Dynamics CRM Online

Free software isn’t always cheaper in the end.  I’m dealing with a horrible cluster of open source software on one project; we barely get anything done with all the time we spend trying to figure how the software works. My recent web projects have been in Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, and with Microsoft tools. I’ve even been playing with Tumblr and Squarespace. But (and this is hard to admit) Microsoft’s new “cloud offerings” have me going to trainings and up nights studying. Continue reading “Office 365, Intune, and Dynamics CRM Online”

Moved Blog to WordPress

Moving this (these) blog(s) to WordPress seems to be working out well. Some of this content was on was an MS Spaces blog and some on a Google Blogger blog. I’m working with a bunch of sites that are WordPress.com or use WordPress.org. Most of them aren’t blogs but full-on websites that may have a blog as a part of the functionality.