Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
I know for our staff, our board, our executive director, and the program team, who are in charge of editorial content, it’s definitely been beyond easier for them to update the content that used to have to go to one person and then get managed in Dreamweaver to get posted. Now, again, with the content management system, any of the editorial or program lens or donation managers can go in and make a change, and it automatically lists everywhere that change is needed. In terms of ease of publishing, our team is so grateful that we have a CMS that works for our needs.
How did MAAN Softwares Inc perform from a project management standpoint?
Inside of the Active Collab, there are different streams of work. Just to give an example, we had a theming overall. We themed the home page first with MAAN, and then we themed the interior pages, which were all very similar to one another. We found out that there were probably 10 to 15 more additional content types that also needed similar theming. Then we worked on the import of secondary sources, including the Green Business Network, the Green Pages online, and Break Up with Your Mega-Bank. They helped us input those directories into the site. Then we did the theming and integrating of the subsites into our overall content management system. Each of those had its own scope and what we needed for it and what type of graphic sizes, how the content would relate to each other, and we would just kind of cascade from the home page on downward. MAAN also enabled for us what we call a kitchen sink that has all of the elements that we could ever possibly use on the site. That will be available to us in the future because we don’t actually know some of what we want to have designed. Perhaps one of the teams will come up with a new piece of content. We have this glossary of design elements that they’ve themed for us, that we can then slice and dice as needed in the future.
What did you find most impressive about MAAN Softwares Inc?
It’s very clean. Part of our struggle is to communicate with somebody and have it be coordinated in a clean conversation because oftentimes somebody gets very muddied, or they’re not sure what this thing on the left is, or it’s not clear what we’re asking for. It doesn’t get rendered correctly. I would say that the cleanliness of communication has been very good. I asked for the Green America magazine article to show the last three related articles to that magazine, and they can render it spot-on. That reduces the amount of frustration from our internal team, and then it also increases the ability for us to iterate, because once we see a version, then we can give feedback on that. I would say that their certainty and cleanliness of the design is so helpful for us because then we can better envision what we need, and then we can better iterate what the teams are asking for. We started with a version, and they themed it like what we asked, but upon further review, our magazine editor was disappointed because we didn’t have a good design for her. They came back to us with an even better version, and then it was very easily implemented and approved by her quicker and better. The theming process and also the database importation has been very clean and quick and clear with this team.
Are there any areas MAAN Softwares Inc could improve?
Maybe we could ask for more suggestions from them on how to implement things, but they’ve always been a true partner to us in giving us options for how we might want to implement something. I would say that they’re very much a true partner, and they’ve given us constructive items, but maybe just a little bit more explanation of recommendation.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with MAAN Softwares Inc?
It’s always easier if you have your functional specifications and your content architecture at least mapped to your business process, so that when you articulate something to them, they can better understand what you’re trying to say. If I had come to them with lenses, programs, campaigns, and actions but not mentioned to them how they were all connected, they might have built something more disparate. But since I knew that they were connected in certain formats, through images or through references, then they were more easily able to implement my vision for that. I would definitely say any team needs to have a fairly good understanding of their content structure in order to build it in a way that matches their needs.
As an example, we have press releases, which are very different from media mentions, which are very different from blog posts. But all three of those are essentially Green America avenues in media. We had to explain that these were three separate items, but if you don’t go into detail on the difference between the three, it would be easy to think that they’re all the same thing. But they’re not because press releases are created by Green America, whereas media mentions is Green America in the news from other sources, so the fields associated with those are different. And additionally, blog posts are our own content that we’re pushing, so that has its own needs as well in terms of the fields associated with that content.