Edited By Mary Ellen Bradley
Web Page Access To All |
Falling Short On The Web |
FORUM '96 A Success
Paperless Technologies |
November Board Meeting
"God must love the common man, He made so many of them."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Web Page Access To All
Yogi Berras non-sequitur "The future ain't what it used to be,"
may prove to be more profound than even he could have imagined. Until very
recently our future was conceived as a refinement, a continuation of the
past built upon the fundamental changes that began in the 15th century
marking the transition from Middle Ages to Renaissance.
Today we are in the throws of another fundamental change that will make
our customary ways of succeeding irrelevant. So says Oren Harari in his
book Jumping the Curve. He points to an uncharted future
that is rapidly changing. For business and government this means rising
expectations for service from the public.
Web sites are the place where this transformational change is happening
most rapidly and where the opportunity for us to build software around
the public is most immediate. If we are to remain relevant and competitive
we must design and build information systems (and web sites specifically)
for anyone to use at any time in any way they choose.
Anyone means the full range of public and their full range of both technical
and physical abilities: People with technology capable of using Java and
people using 286s in rural public libraries; people with varying abilities
- the 49 million who have disabilities, the 77 million baby boomers nearing
50, the elderly who do not consider themselves disabled but have difficulty
reading or hearing; and children, so adept and so adaptable.
Making systems accessible to the fullest range of users is not just the
right thing to do, it is good business. Our competitiveness, our ability
to deliver services and reach customers, our credibility with the public
depends upon their ability to use our services easily, and transparently.
Here are a few tips you can use to make your web pages more accessible:
- Simplify and group selection of options (buttons) together and be consistent
in their placement on the page;
- Avoid detailed backgrounds (they are slow to load and hard to read);
- Avoid using tables and text-only options;
- Test your web page with a Web Browser like Bobby (http://www/cast.org/bobby/);
- Do not use blinking text; and
- Check out the web page for Washington Assistive Technology Alliance and
AssistiveTechnology Resource Center at: http://weber.u.washington.edu/~atrc/access_index.html
for ideas on how to make your home page easy to read.
Pat McLain is the ADA Facilities Program Manager for the
Dept. of General Administration.
Falling Short On The Web
The Web is the current hot topic. At the IPMA forum, Bruce Rogow, the Wednesday
keynote speaker, said that companies are not dedicating enough resources
to customer service responses on the Web and suggested that we could learn
from their example. He cited an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ),
October 21, 1996 which showed that many companies are falling short in
responding to customer inquiries on their Web sites.
The article was titled Simplest E-Mail Queries Confound Companies and
was written by Thomas E. Weber. Weber researched several companies e-mail
responses and found that getting an answer was much harder than asking
a question. In other words, companies asked for consumers input on their
home pages but failed to keep up with their end of the conversation.
The Wall Street Journal zapped e-mail to two dozen major corporate Web
sites with e-mail capabilities and found that most did not respond. Nine
never responded, two took three weeks to respond and others sent stock
replies that did not address the query. Only three companies answered within
a day. If the Internet is a method for corresponding with customers, then
companies that do not talk back to them are not providing a service. Many
companies are courting costumers by computer now but find that providing
this service is more expensive than they realized.
The problem for most companies is that providing support is expensive.
L.L. Bean had to pull nine employees from their 800 number support to provide
e-mail support. Apple Computer Inc. responded that e-mail requires labor-intensive,
personal follow-ups. This explained why they responded to query with we
need to let you know that the webmaster cant answer these questions.
For example, the WSJ asked Duracell whether Duracell batteries will last
longer if stored in the fridge. Duracell International, Inc. never responded.
Even high-tech companies failed. IBM answered a product inquiry with an
e-mail message to call its toll-free number. Eastman Kodak responded to
a question about storing film with a brochure sent through the US mail.
There were a few companies that did well. Whirpool responded to their e-mail
within 24 hours. LL Bean Inc. (http:/www.llbean.com) provided tips on waterproofing
boots within hours. Ford Motor Co. responded to a question within a day
and even though it had a few misspellings it thoroughly answered the question.
However the more typical response came from Mercedes-Benz which said Thank
you very much for your e-mail...it would be helpful if you could give us
your post address.
The lesson for government agencies is clear. If you ask for customer input,
then respond promptly. If you provide a Web site make sure that you have
the resources dedicated to it that will insure that it is a satisfactory
experience for your customers.
Mary Ellen Bradley
FORUM '96 A Success
FORUM '96 continued the tradition of success for the IPMA. More
than 800 government technology professionals attended the two day event
to listen to the guest speakers and visit the 40 vendor displays and corporate
Dennis Laine, FORUM '96 Committee Chairman and
Joe Brown, Sales Representative for Oracle.
Dennis Laine, Chairman of the FORUM '96 Committee, reported "The turnout
was good and the attendees got an opportunity to hear about some the latest
things happening in our field." "It was a lot of work and I really
appreciate everything the FORUM Committee members, our corporate sponsors
and participating vendors did to make this a success," Laine added.
Mike McVicker (barely in the picture), Jim Andersen,
FORUM '96 Committee Vice Chairman, and Bob Marlatt,
IPMA Board Chairman.
Plans are already underway for FORUM '97, so mark your calendars for October
21 & 22, 1997.
The Olympia Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants (AGA)
is sponsoring a technical session on Paperless Technology and Process
Innovation. It will be held Friday, December 20, 1996 at the Labor and
Industries Building Auditorium in Tumwater.
The speaker is George J. Dunn, a recognized expert in the areas of paperless
technology and process innovation. He will discuss trends, risks and abilities
of paperless technology as well as how to blueprint, model, and redesign
an organization to use the technology.
Those interested in attending should call Holly Medlin at 902-7364 or Mark
Jarasitis at 753-3030. The cost for non-AGA members will be $100.
Mary Ellen Bradley
November Board Meeting
Members Present: Bob Monn, Shelagh Taylor, Phil Coates, Al Bloomberg,
Phil Grigg, Mary Ellen Bradley, Darrel Riffe, Jim Andersen, Bob Marlatt, Joe Coogan
The Board Meeting was opened by Bob Marlatt at 7:35 a.m. November 14, 1996.
ChairBob Marlatt discussed some inquiries he had received concerning
the discontinued monthly meetings. Several people had expressed interest
in having them resume. The Board discussed the possibility of having monthly
functions, not necessarily luncheons, as opportunities to discuss issues
and network with colleagues. Bob Monn will give this idea consideration
as part of the Professional Development program.
SecretaryThe minutes were approved as published in the October
TreasurerThe monthly treasurers report was distributed, reviewed
and approved. The Board agreed to discuss an investment strategy at the
meeting in December.
Business and FinanceAl Bloomberg reviewed the budget status reports
for the year-to-date. There was some discussion about development of a
spreadsheet that would track expenditures by major IPMA event/initiative.
Al will pursue this approach for the next meeting.
Phil Grigg is leading the elections process this year. Ballots are about
to be sent out. Phil shared that it was difficult to find people willing
to be candidates for elections to the Board. The results of the election
will be reported at the next Board meeting.
Communications CommitteeButch Stussy attended the meeting to discuss
his plan to include more pictures in the newsletter. The Board discussed
the current status of the IPMA Home Page, and the difficulty in getting
information added in a timely manner. The Board authorized Joe Coogan to
pursue the purchasing of Internet services to ensure timeliness in Home
Page development and maintenance.
ForumIn Dennis Laines absence, Mary Ellen Bradley reported on
Forum 96. It was noted that attendance was down this year, and that the
decline was most likely due to the fact that a brochure mailing did not
go out to all of last years attendees. Some of the vendors had noted that
they were pleased that more decision makers attended this year. The Board
discussed some possible changes for next year. Dennis and the Forum Planning
Committee will hold a debriefing in December to document lessons learned.
Forum 97 will be October 21st and 22nd.
Executive Seminar Darrel reported he has begun working on a time,
theme and location for next years seminar.
Professional DevelopmentBob Monn reported there were 14 attendees
at the Project Estimating class in October. The Project Management class
which was cancelled in September has been rescheduled for December 9th
IPMA, P.O. Box 1943, Olympia, WA 98507-1943