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Justifying Your Website In The Cloud

The idea of putting your biggest marketing investment – your website in the cloud – might be a little scary. But that’s why you’re reading this post — you’re smart and know when to take a well-calculated risk. The cloud is built for those with a built-in taste for success – who want to provide their customers with an updated website that’s optimized for search and ready to handle the campaigns generated from your marketing and sales departments. THIS IS WHERE THE CLOUD COMES IN. For those who like official definitions, Gartner came up with a good one: “The cloud is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service” to customers using Internet technologies.” Gartner crammed all the important key words in there: scalable, elastic, service, Internet and IT. It makes it a good definition, but what does that mean for your public-facing website? WHAT ARE THE BEST BETS IN THE CLOUD? If the cloud is a scalable and elastic IT service, everything should be a good fit for the cloud, right? While that might be eventually true, for now here are the top uses for the cloud. Public Websites with fluctuating traffic levels often require a big investment in an infrastructure (hardware, power and IT staff) that can accommodate short-term spikes. If your web analytics resembles a roller coaster, it might be a good idea to consider a cloud solution. B2B / Partner / Client Portals are becoming extremely popular. With the right security features in place, the cloud is the perfect place to host a partner portal as it can experience fluctuations in traffic with every new product rollout or change. Applications that can be pushed to the cloud are those that are a collection of services, like security services, mobile access, workflow integration, email, spam filtering, archiving, etc. Forrester recommends if you have an OLTP (online transaction processing) application – avoid the cloud for now. 3rd Party Integrations  Integrating 3rd party applications with your website becomes a no-brainer because the cloud acts as shield against your internal systems while providing the necessary scalability and cost savings. BENEFITS OF USING OFFICE 365 FOR A PUBLIC WEBSITE A content management system (CMS) makes the web more usable. It’s more important than ever these days to have your website be easy to manage, handle traffic fluctuations and be scalable with your business. Having a CMS solves many issues we face in business today. Easy to update – Most websites grow organically over time and we find much of the content is out-of-date. If pages were manually updated using tools like Dreamweaver, its likely...

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Your Project and the Team Dynamic in the Cloud

Sitting in a conference room, very alone, waiting for a meeting to start can be boring and frustrating, especially when nobody shows up. Was the meeting canceled? Was there a memo? Are there still going to be bagels? All of these questions have been asked by literally millions of project managers, workers, contractors, and clients since, well, the building of the pyramids in Egypt. Finally, after 5,000 years, the cloud and Office 365 has come to help. A major key to the success of a project is communication. Projects where everyone sends updates and changes via email has, at times, been sufficient, but most of the time is riotously inefficient. Particularly if there are more than three people involved. Delivering a form and having everyone make changes and send back updates at the same time in different copies brews a colorful spreadsheet, sure, but it is really just a giant waste of time. Muddling through the confused has now prompted savvy managers to declare, “To the cloud!” Some companies are already using their servers and/or some form of the cloud to share documents. That’s a start, but giving contractors, subcontractors, and clients’ access to your servers may cause some companies to feel uneasy. Not to worry, there is another way. SharePoint Online offers users a way to easily launch a project-specific site, manage permissions and share, communicate, and update the project team with relevant information. The Project Site in the Cloud Building an internal project site for each and every project allows owners, managers, workers, contractors and clients to all access the process at varying levels is easier than ever before. It makes the client part of the team and draws them into the project. It also gives contractors a place to communicate and be accounted for. A project site gives control and can break through some of the chaos that can delay projects and throw it over budget. Document Sharing – If you have ever been an admin on a project in charge of collecting all of the documentation for post mortem and audit, then you know the tremendous amount of paperwork that can accumulate through the course of a single project. First off, don’t waste the paper. Secondly, the benefit of document sharing is that anyone can access it at any time. Keeping documents organized, showing changes by who and when, and allowing access to those who need it – when they need it – is what the cloud is all about. Timeline – No matter how your project manager prefers to control the timeline, that timeline is always adjusting. Clients add things, contractors get delayed, workers...

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Getting Ready for Office 365

Office 365 is the next generation of productivity-based cloud services from Microsoft. It is geared towards all business, from a one-man show to a global organization. As a small business, it seems a little unreal at times to grasp the concept of having access to the same tools as Coca-Cola, but therein lies the beauty of Microsoft’s services – scale. Cloud technology helps your business easily scale up or down and relieves your staff from making ongoing technical decisions about servers and bandwidth. What cloud services are offered with Office 365? Exchange Online E-mail, calendar and contacts with current antivirus and anti-spam solutions. Includes the ability to get email on virtually any mobile phone and options for voice mail, unified messaging and archiving. SharePoint Online Create sites to connect colleagues, partners and customers. Includes enterprise social networking and customization options. Lync Online Instant messaging, presence and online meeting experiences with screen sharing, voice and video conferencing. Microsoft Office Professional Plus The desktop version of the favorite productivity tool in business is now part of the complete Office 365 offering. Office 365: A Few Plans to Consider Small Business Solution Microsoft’s cloud services plans are customizable based on your business needs. Enterprise Solutions Microsoft’s cloud services plans are customizable based on your business needs. Need help choosing the right plan? Contact Aaron Nettles anettles@vorsite.com (206) 781-1797 Resources Find out more information about the Microsoft Small Business Plan Discover more Enterprise Plans Share...

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7 Steps to Organizing a Fundraising Campaign with SharePoint Online

Fundraising is all about teamwork, organization, and imagination. Ignite your team’s drive for communication and accomplishment by focusing some strategic energy on building an organized and efficient fundraising project site. Creating an Organized and Efficient Project Site 1 – Define the Audience Decide who needs to access the fundraising project site. Write down all the possible groups of people who may need access to all or just a portion of the site. Will it be internal staff only, volunteers, partners, and/or board members? Deciding who needs access not only helps with organization, it will also give your IT staff time to prepare technical feedback on your concepts. If you have some spare time, learn how to develop personas on Usability.gov 2 – Establish Goals and Objectives Now decide what you want your SharePoint site to do for your audience. SharePoint can easily be setup to accomplish multiple tasks, but each section should have a specific purpose. Think about what you need each audience segment to do and map these to goals or tasks. This becomes your audience goal matrix. Example: Volunteers need to do a call down to potential donors. In this situation you might want to have a section dedicated to communicating with potential donors with supporting documents like a telescript, mission statement, common questions, and a link to the secure list of donor names and telephone numbers where they can update status. 3 – Create a site map The size of your organization will influence  the size of your fundraising project site. Based on the newly created audience goal matrix, begin listing the content needs and decide how the information will be categorized. One technique to accomplish this goal is to write down potential content categories  on notecards and group them together as a team. Remember, the site map should contain broad categories. Get more information on Sitemaps from Usability.gov Perform a card sort with Optimal Workshop (there’s a free version, up to 30 cards) 4 – Set up a Taxonomy to Organize Files Taxonomy is simply information about the information and helps organize files across the organization. Taxonomy makes it easy to find and display documents regardless of its physical location within SharePoint. This essentially allows the same document to potentially be in two places at once. Taxonomy areas to consider are: Document keywords (or metadata) Document naming convention In a fundraising campaign, one might create a specific document taxonomy around the campaign name, campaign stage, and audience type. You are likely to come up with more! Note: Even if you haven’t identified a taxonomy for your entire organization quite yet, deciding on categories now for...

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Vorsite Delivers New Cloud Service: vorApps for SharePoint Online

Commercially available cloud service from Vorsite leverages the power of Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite and provides users with email enabled information management. Today’s ever-changing marketplace requires organizations to increase efficiencies and react swiftly to opportunities and challenges. Many companies are held back by their reliance on manual processes to store and share information, resulting in lost productivity and delayed results. A trusted application that allows information flow and real-time collaboration with co-workers and decision-makers is the most sought after solution in business today. The Evolution of Information Storage vorApps for SharePoint Online delivers an email enabled information management solution leveraging the power of Microsoft SharePoint Online. Through simple automation, knowledge can be captured, searched, and accessed through SharePoint. Instantly your workers create an alternate secure location to shared inboxes. Whether team members are in the next room or on the next continent, the powerful combination of automation and storage drives business efficiencies and builds a more agile organization. Information Interaction at your Fingertips vorApps makes everyday tasks easy and efficient. Public folders have been around a long time and employees are used to interacting with them. Imagine storing your communications in a public folder experience directly from your e-mail solution. Imagine sending a fax directly to SharePoint instead of information going directly to your desktop or lost in a shared inbox. Give your team members the freedom to focus on strategy and core tactics to keep your business evolving in a hard economy. vorApps for SharePoint Online features the ability to store incoming and outgoing emails from familiar SharePoint lists and document libraries. This means when a team member receives or sends an email it is instantly stored within SharePoint and securely accessed by anyone on the team. The experience will provide your team members with streamlined processes, which ensures document security and promotes collaboration. Benefits E-mail enabled information storage E-mail automation Fax automation Public folder experience Archiving Key features include: Email Services Incoming/outgoing emails are stored and accessed from familiar SharePoint lists and libraries Incoming/outgoing emails are stored in Windows Azure and accessible from SharePoint Online lists and libraries Administration Reporting Download more information about vorApps for SharePoint Online [ PDF ] Share...

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