Archive for the ‘project management’ Category

Site launch: Airport Jobs

At PICnet, we aren’t just about creating snazzy new websites with sleek design and fancy features. We’re also here to help with your website’s basic needs, like in the case of Port Jobs. We recently worked with Port Jobs’ database contractor to automate Microsoft Access reporting to display current job postings in near-real time on their Airport Jobs site.

Port Jobs chose us after a competitive bid process in which they considered several firms.  Our functionality and a previous relationship with the business favored us in the selection process. But the database revamping is only Phase I – we will now be working on redeveloping Port Jobs in Soapbox, under the same template.

Although this is a rare example, the project was fairly smooth in part because I already understood how their old database was set up – because I had created it when I was an employee with Port Jobs. This made it a lot easier to understand the goal of the database integration, and the limitations and opportunities moving from the current ASP driven site to Soapbox.  In the end, this prior knowledge proved fruitful in a great solution for the client.

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Stellar support, simplified systems

Recently, we helped migrate a newly designed Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to the Soapbox platform, after they were seeing diminishing service and support from their old system. The organization wanted an option to have support 24 hours a day and to build a relationship with their platform provider.

And boy, did we build a relationship! As project manager, I spoke with Ladd Everitt from CSGV almost every day – as their PR/media person, he had a great personal investment in the website, and he was very involved with the decision-making and details from the start of the project.

We originally were going  to use the eblast system Vertical Response, tied into the Salesforce CRM to manage CSGV’s contacts.  However, upon understanding the small staff they had and the technical literacy which these two systems required, I decided to look into Network for Good’s My Emma Email Now! This turned out to be both a simpler and more affordable solution for the client. Now CSGV has petitions, contact forms and surveys running through the form creation on Email Now, and they are also able to send out well-designed html email blasts through this very simple and easy to use system. I also want to give a quick shout out to Kate Purcell, the designer of the site.

The relationship PICnet built with Ladd for this site was great for overall communications and for the momentum of the project.  He was a great example of a smooth client-vendor partnership – always delivering on time and was available at all hours during the holidays for launch.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. Learn more here.


Soapbox site launch: Mercy Investment Services

We recently launched another great Soapbox site, this time for Mercy Investment Services,  an asset management program for the collective investment and professional management of the endowment, operating, and other funds of the Sisters of Mercy and the eligible sponsored and co-sponsored ministries that choose to participate, all of which are tax-exempt organizations engaged in religious and charitable activities.

The idea behind the program is that, by combining their assets, participants may obtain lower costs for the investment of their funds and access to better performing investment managers than each would otherwise have.

Here are some of our favorite, and notable features for the new site:

  • Flash maps that display where the reach of their socially responsible investing in the United States and around the world
  • Use of a taxonomy product PICnet built to classify the socially responsible investments not just by geographical area but by Type of Investment, making the information more accessible to site visitors while not increasing administrative overhead on staff to upkeep the site

Mercy Investment Services is connected to the Sisters of Mercy Communities,  for whom we’ve built several community sites. You can read more about those here and here.


Site launch: KIPP NYC is preparing students for success

kippnyc_screenshot_thumbFor fifteen years, KIPP NYC, a non-profit network of public charter schools in New York City, has disproven the ordinary about urban schools in the United States. Their goal has been to “graduate students with the strength of character and academic abilities needed to succeed in life.” They have 1,300 students and 700 alumni, with 80% of them from low-income families and 98% are African-American or Latino.

KIPP NYC is an organization focused on results and results it has shown. Over its lifetime, it can consistently grown to educate more students from low-income families and give them a true opportunity to seek higher education. Their programs have extended from kindergarten to college prep, all supported by a dedicated staff of dynamic teachers. These programs have helped 95% of students score at or higher than the state average in math, 93% of students to finish high school, and 86% of graduates go to college.

In December, PICnet launched a brand new website for the organization, encasing information on various programs, a professional design, and multimedia on staff and students.  It consolidated information from several websites on different programs onto one universal and streamlined site.

Some key components of the project:

  • A lot of content needed to be migrated
  • Information architecture had to be designed for pulling content from multiple sites onto one universal site
  • We set up a simple-viewer photo gallery
  • Plenty of videos for staffers/alumni/families/family testimonials

KIPP NYC is on track to having 50% of their graduates finish college in 6 years in the next two years. The organization’s goal is to strengthen and expand their programs so that 75% of their graduates complete their college degree, compared to national average of 10% for low-income communities.  If you would like to learn more or support these students and teachers in their endeavor, please visit them on the web at

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Client quick fix: Increased user engagement

At PICnet, once we help a client launch a new site, we make sure we stick around and keep in touch to help with any follow up and enhancements after a few months of usage. We’re always here to help with little fixes, tweaks or updates, and that’s just what we did recently with the Latin America Working Group, whose Soapbox site we launched earlier this year.

Once the site was up and running, LAWG wanted to highlight their blog better and allow for commenting on posts from site visitors. Our team worked with them to craft a low-impact strategy by implementing the following low-hanging fruit:

1) creating a new image button on the right side of the homepage called “Read our Blog” with a direct link to the blog 2) turning on the commenting tool available in all Soapbox sites 3) created an RSS feed and sign up form through a 3rd party provider to email daily posts

Easy fixes, more success for the client = happy PICnet!

LAWG brings U.S. civil society groups and citizens together to influence U.S. policy to promote peace and justice in Latin America. Since 1983, we’ve been opening doors for Latin American human rights activists to speak truth to power in Washington, DC.

Learn more about LAWG at


40 sites team up to fight cancer

American Cancer Society of California Discovery ShopAmerican Cancer Society of California does great work on one of the most vital issues of our day. To fund this critical effort, they run a network of 40 Discovery Shops that help support the fight against cancer through the sale of high quality, gently used, donated merchandise for men, women and children.

When they came to us asking if we could help create an individual home on the internet for each and every one of these Discovery Shops, we had just one question:

When do we start?

By leveraging the power of Non-Profit Soapbox and crafting a common template for consistent branding across the network, we built 40 sites to promote each individual shop – all efficiently and easily for not much more than the cost of a single site.

No fuss. No muss. Just a high quality network of easy to manage sites to further an important mission. But don’t take our word for it. Hear it straight from Steven Wirt, Director of Online and Internal Communications for the American Cancer Society of California:

“I’ve been very impressed and pleased with Non-Profit Soapbox. Wrangling 40 web sites has been a seamless, pain-free experience.”

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Worthy Wage: a worthy cause deserving a worthy website

ccw_thumbSince 1978, the Center for the Childcare Workforce (CCW) has served as the leading national organization in the call for improving childcare jobs. A program of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), CCW’s mission is to improve the quality of child care by upgrading the compensation, working conditions and training opportunities for child care teachers and family child care providers.

Every year on May 1st, CCW and AFT promote recognition of Worthy Wage Day by organizing a variety of activities to recognize and honor the dedication of early childhood educators and staff and to draw attention to their low wages and minimal benefits. This national day of awareness is just one of the many lasting effects of the Worthy Wage Campaign that CCW organized from 1991-1999.

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This project is a GO

thumb_goprojectMost kids have been back back in school for almost a month now, getting into the daily rhythms of classes, homework and extra-curriculars. Parents have their pickup and drop-off schedules down, and teachers are into the thick of their lesson plans.

But not every child and their family starts a new school year with ease- and that’s where The GO Project comes in. Many children in Lower Manhattan public schools are first or second generation Americans with parents who speak little to no English, their families are struggling financially, and they don’t have the resources to fully benefit from the public school system. The GO Project has been addressing the intellectual, social and emotional needs of children attending public elementary schools in lower Manhattan and their families since 1968. Their support services and programs help over 300 struggling elementary school children each year build the confidence and skills they need to realize their potential and succeed at school, at home and in life.

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Digital Storytelling and Community Outreach

I attended my first Community Technology and Digital Opportunity Meetup in San Francisco on July 20th and left feeling inspired about the potential of using digital media to express the realities, triumphs and work of my clients.

The purpose of this meetup is to share the work of various nonprofits around the Bay Area who provide technology access and programming to the local community through either computer labs or innovative digital literacy curricula. The week’s topic “Bayview Hunter’s Point Center for Art and Technology and Digital Storytelling!” was hosted by the titled organization, BAYCAT, and also featured a presentation by Jen Nowicki from Creative Narrations.

Jen first defined what digital storytelling is: it’s a vignette told in the first person and made up of personal images and text in a video format. Her organization helps nonprofits and education institutions empower their constituents’ voices by training them to develop their own digital story. From what I saw, their process is focused, impacting and cathartic for many of the individuals they serve. They teach the elements of how to tell a story and move their students through four stages of developing their work: Preparation, Production, Publishing and Promotion. The final stage is important to the recognition and ownership of the work, and helps ensure that the community hears the story. For resources on how to create your own digital story, you can go to Stories for Change.

Here is one of the highlighted videos: Boston YWCA:

BAYCAT is an organization that educates the underserved communities of Bayview and Hunter’s Point on various media production techniques, and then employs some of their graduates to fulfill corporate and other nonprofit media needs. This cycle from student to professional creates an incredible incentive for the students and their families to continue supporting their talents. Many of the production pieces serve as public service messages to the student’s community, so they become change agents against drugs and violence.

Here is a very creative and funny one done by a teenager:

I would love to see some of my clients start to utilize these resources. I know that the web development process is quite an undertaking in itself, but starting to incorporate video to tell stories would be a great 6 month follow up to keep web content fresh. It would also be a great case for strategic partnerships among nonprofits.


Predicting project launch dates with FogBugz

FogBugzGrowth provides an amazing incentive to work smarter. At 12 employees today, PICnet’s growth spurt has reached the point where working longer hours isn’t going to cut it. While I get few hours of sleep each night, PICnetters know that I don’t want to see the company follow down my path. It’s the “do as I say, not as I do” approach to sleep.

One of the most critical pieces to working more efficiently is better forecasting, and we’re taking a stab at a powerful tool called FogBugz to help us better track tasks as well as to more accurately predict completion dates. FogBugz 6.0 includes an amazing feature called Evidence-Based Scheduling (EBS), which our project management department is drooling over. Here’s the scenario to help understand why PICnetters are excited about EBS:

Imagine a reality where project managers and developers can agree on the release schedule of a project based on past performance data, predictive complexity data, and corporate calendars. Imagine a meeting where project managers can leave a scheduling meeting saying, “I know with X% probability that this project will launch on time”, and developers can leave saying, “man, it feels great to not have to make guesstimates that are force fit into PM’s schedules”.

As the FogBugz site says:

You can find out how realistic that official date is, so you can tell your boss with a straight face: “Yes, we can ship on time. With 4% probability.”

From what we’ve seen so far, FogBugz’s EBS functionalities has a good chance of making easy forecasting a reality. We’ll do our best to keep you posted on our experiment with FogBugz, and track our overall response to the effectiveness of EBS in project management.