Other Uses for the Website

by Barry L. Morgan, FPCM
 
“There are lots of books on theory… what managers
want today is something practical, something they
can actually use.” So here are 20 practical ways to
put your existing website to work. Websites are
becoming an important communication tool in most
clubs. However, in order to realize the full potential
of this tool, your members must return to the website
frequently, making these visits part of their daily club
routine. The suggestions below are designed to
increase traffic to your website and provide your club
with more opportunities to “connect with your
membership.” To conserve space (and prevent
information overload) only a brief description of each
concept is provided in this article. More details are
available, at www.homesteadsolutions.com.

 

Concept         Description
Member Business
Member Directory
Brand name products work because people don’t have time to thoroughly investigate every decision, they make. We must rely on those we trust when making choices. Connecting “friends” within the club on a business level and encouraging them to “keep it in the family” can bring the community closer together and increase traffic on the club website

Staff Web Center

Links to calendars, newsletters, and other staff resources can help facilitate staff communication. Pictures of staff are always popular as are schedules for staff parties and sporting events. With proper access controls, this portion of the website can be easily maintained by the staff, helping to get them more involved. Participation usually generates interest and support.
Web Based
Committee Room
Much time is often squandered just going to and from meetings. Virtual meeting rooms can be a tremendous help if used properly. Asynchronous (different times for different people) meetings will never replace the social interaction possible when groups come together. But they can provide committee members with information about what was discussed (minutes), what commitments were
made (project to-dos), and allow discussions on committee issues to be automatically recorded.
Digital Bookshelf
“Good old pen and paper” methods are quaint, but paper based information systems tend to be slow, sometimes difficult to use and they usually require considerable resources to maintain. A digital library helps reduce printing and photocopy expenses, and cuts postage, handling, and distribution costs. The cost of file folders, file cabinets, binders, and other “hard copy,” paper storage systems is virtually eliminated. The time spent maintaining multiple sets of information can be avoided. Putting the digital library on line makes it accessible and reduces the frustration of not being able to find or obtain the information you need, when you need it.
Orientation Tour
Imagine a new employee proudly taking a tour of your property, perhaps accompanied by family and friends. The new employee points out as they go where they will be working, and everyone is introduced along the way to various department managers who outline all the “benefits of working here.” Consider now that this tour takes place entirely in the comfort of the new employee’s home and that it can be replayed as often as they like. Virtual orientation tours will never replace a proper first day on the job, but they can go a long way towards ensuring all new staff understand what your organization is all about and this can help get them off to a good start.
Shop Online
A virtual store provides a convenient place to display goods for sale and it does not need to be complicated to function effectively. While access to a store may not be high on everyone's list of priorities, if it is important to some, it's reasonable to assume that these individuals are likely to be loyal customers. Set up a preferred customer signup system to reward and encourage patronage.
Member Info Centre
Filtering information has become a key defence against the “noise” of too many messages. Therefore, it is important to set up your club message board so that members need only see what interests them. This can best be achieved by allowing members to control their own interface with the website.
Step-by-Step Directions on Getting From Here to There.
MapQuest.com, MapPoint.net, and other map and location software programs offer the means to provide users with step-by-step directions to get from location to location. Easy to read maps which can also be printed in advance from the site or downloaded to a PDA device, making make your facility easier to guests to find. These instructions also make great back up to support mileage claims.

Transparent BoardRoom

Being known to the members is a fundamental responsibility of any governing body. Often however, the Board only hears a minority opinion and sometimes this minority seem to be the only ones hearing the board. Finding ways to connect the Board to the members is critical to effective representation. A virtual boardroom can help make the Board more accessible and provide a location to conduct membership polls, post position and policy statements, hold on line focus group meetings, lead discussion groups, etc. Transparency on the Board is a critical issue in today’s organizations.
Sanctioned
E-Buy & Sell
A "virtual flea market or online community bazaar” is an ideal way to bring members together on-line and keep them coming back. Boosting the listings periodically might become a popular club event that would generate considerable interest in the website. To minimize maintenance concerns, all listings on such a site would need to be set to automatically disappear after a pre-determined period. And no doubt it would probably be advisable to set-up a few operating rules in advance. 

 Information Collection Center

Collecting data on the proper form and submitting it to the appropriate person for routine handling can be a real time saver for those gathering data from disparate sources. Website forms for expense reports, maintenance requests, statistical reports, etc. can be pre-programmed and verified for completeness before being accepted for submission. Digital data also need not be input twice.

 Idea Exchange

A forum where employees can present ideas and explore proposals with peers could be a tremendous source of innovation for your operation. Documenting the suggestions and recording discussions with respect to how they might be implemented, automatically provides your club with the means to encourage employee input and reward the initiators for their extra effort and thought.

 Sales / Catering Office On-line

Based on the analogy of an actual Catering Office, this facility can provide both visitors and staff alike with quick and efficient access to information regarding your operation. Menus can be downloaded rather than mailed. Visual presentations can guide selections. Sample room layouts can guide setups. Requests for information on line can be handled automatically. Thank you notes can be displayed.

 Team Tool Bench

As employees become more specialized, our groups must depend increasingly on empowered teams. To be effective, team members must have the tools they need to work together. A framework, developed as the initial team assignment, facilitates the process of clarifying the purpose, roles, and milestones that the team needs established in order to get their bearings and then get on with the task. 

 Department Offices On-line

 Almost anything that might otherwise be stored in a file cabinet can be stored on-line ready and available to help a department function more efficiently. Lists of phone numbers, supervisory checklists, budgets and financial performance information, project plans, etc. all can be uploaded, more easily maintained remotely and collaboratively, and readied for access as required, from anywhere.

 Virtual Training Centre

Stability in the workforce can only be ensured if the employees have access to the tools necessary to gain the skills and abilities your organization will need to succeed in the future. If cost has been a limiting factor in the provision of sufficient training in the past, a significant portion of the cost can be avoided, if the training can come to the trainee rather than the other way around.

Contingency Command Centre

Inevitably, those responding to a crisis are faced with some uncertainty: Who should be called? Who has the skills needed right now? What are the priorities? What checklist should be followed in this instance? What needs to be done immediately? The correct response to these questions probably depends on the level and depth of rational planning that has already taken place, i.e. in advance of the incident. Naturally, the person responding to an emergency will rely primarily on prior experience, personal judgment, and intuition. However much of this wisdom can be assembled before it is needed in an emergency and be stored where its accessible on-line.

 Job Board

Successful applicants don't wait for the jobs to come to them. A properly constructed job board can make your organization accessible to potential applicants and by provide information about your organization that will appeal to the type of person who is likely to succeed as part of your team. Promotion from within is often a much more desirable recruitment source and certainly, it tends to be preferred by most employers. A job board helps keep keen employees informed.

 Project Management Centre

 The secret to any project is planning. The more carefully a project is planned, the easier it is to complete. Proper planning helps the project work efficiently, without wasted energy and the needless expenditure of resources. It makes sense to provide every project team a workplace where they can store vital information, track their progress and meet to resolve minor issues as

they arise. This workplace should have contact information, activity schedules, budget information, and other details needed to make teamwork easier.

 Resource Links

 The goal of this resource is to bring together in one location all the tools needed to enable others to function effectively. A useful, well-equipped tool bench can enhance efficiency and provide easy access to important information. The more useful it is, the more frequently it will be accessed. Once this facility has been established and organized, additional resources can be added on demand to increase its value to users.

 And More….

Some of the ideas above will work on your website, some may not. Many groups may already have some variation of these ideas incorporated. In most instances, once one of these concepts has been properly established as part of your system, it can be maintained with minimal extra effort. Keep in mind that much of what we post on our websites is information that we already have in some other location. By using your website as a communication centre, you simply organize what you know or what you want them to know. Your website makes the information that is available more accessible and it improves your chances for getting your messages across. The more information you can actually move with your site the more useful both are. Better information and better communication combine to produce better knowledge and if applied a better operation. And that makes the whole effort worthwhile.