In this field report, I list the priorities I have accepted from my beneficiary organization, the challenges I currently see, and my accomplishments to date against the priorities.


  1. Recover the organization's ability to receive e-mail at its normal e-mail addresses. This seems to have broken in the process of moving the web site to a different hosting company.
  2. Make sure two particular notebook computers can print over the office network, and that they have the latest updates of the operating systems and office software they are running. Investigate and resolve reported issues with documents being written on one computer and not being able to be edited on another (my work on the notebooks has to happen at the convenience of the computer owner/users).
  3. Database issues, all aspects: We need the capability of multi-user simultaneous update of contacts list. Enlarge data schema to understand concept of who gets credit for recruiting another person to donate. Support ad hoc queries. In recommending a choice of contact management system and its underlying DBMS to support all the above, pay attention to ease of use. In particular, it must be possible to enter the data on forms rather than for example something so difficult as SQL.
  4. Website: be able to post some documents for a limited audience to read (this should't be hard).
  5. Simultaneous editing of documents by multiple coworkers, including not only content, but also control of style and navigation in web site.
  6. Digital stories. Put all existing stories in a single master repository. Compile groups of them onto DVDs, with fancy DVD features and extras, for distribution to various audiences or in various types of event or circumstance. Study and report on any cost tradeoffs that would affect the judgement of whether for having a DVD "burner" in the office, we should buy a burner to hang off one of the existing computers (seems likely), or whether to get a computer with a burner in it (seems unlikely; why get a whole computer just for a peripheral? (especially given that office space is very tight)).


  • Seemingly random, intermittent, failures of access to Internet and to local shared file server, over the office network, from the notebook computers. The notebook computers and the office computers are all running Microsoft operating systems. In the most recent instances, rebooting the notebook computers seems to have corrected the failures. I advised one of the owners to keep the computer configured not to suspend itself to memory or disk (so long as it is plugged into the wall).


  • Made contact with the consultant who controls the web site (and presumably who can help me solve the e-mail issue).
  • Configured the notebook computers so they could print on the office network. Started downloading and installing Microsoft updates on them and on the office computers. Advised the owner of one of the notebooks to contact Dell for a solution to inability to check the disk. Loaded OpenOffice.org on one of the office computers (thinking to gradually get it on all the workstations).
  • Printed the web pages in triplicate to support review and revision of content of web site by three people (traversing the web site manually). Collated the copies by hand.

Comment from Morgan Sully on August 6, 2007 - 6:48pm

Hey Jack,
this looks great. I like this format for writing about what you are doing and needing.

I'm of course a big fan of CiviCRM for a database/CRM solution synced to MySQL accessed through nice forms (which you can configure - particularly if you are not a coder).

  • You can create 'smart queries and save them to be accessed by other users later.
  • Can create relations between records.
  • It's 'relatively' easy to use, depending on which options you enable for which types of users.
  • You administer your site though your browser and through the same interface as your end users.
  • Has functionality for shared file uploading that can be permission based to limit who can have access to what.


Here is a demo:
http://demo.civicrm.org/drupal/ (also available for the Joomla CMS)

There are other options out there though I have not tried them and none of them (as far as I can tell) have as tight an integration with your website and content management as CiviCRM does.

Other options include:





nice that you went the 'old school' route too of actually PRINTING UP THE WEBPAGES for folks to go over. Makes for some nice PHYSICAL documentation.