User login

Blog Posts

Displaying 1 - 5 of 480
Enter keywords to search the current selection of blogs
Dec
1
 

For years, public broadcasting stations have used software to track and manage constituents. Like most other nonprofits, stations have need to be able to track all sorts of data points, including members, donors, and contributions; direct mail efforts and pledge drives; e-newsletters; the underwriting sales process; traffic management; finances; facility management; and volunteers. In the past, all this information would live in different systems. But now, a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) strategy supported by systems that can integrate this data can help the station recognize its most engaged supporters, target them in personalized ways, and find opportunities for growth it didn’t even know were there.

 
Still, most stations face the problem of siloed data systems. The largest stations have begun to transition to a more integrated approach, but a CRM strategy need not be prohibitively expensive—it’s within reach even for small and medium-sized stations. That's where we come in. This free report, funded by Greater Public (formerly DEI) and Integrated Media Association (iMA), and created by Idealware, provides an apples-to-apples comparison of nine CRM-styled systems that can meet the membership and fundraising needs of public media stations.
 
Idealware researched and wrote this report over the summer of 2013 for distribution to members of the Integrated Media Association. The funders, Greater Public (formerly DEI) and Integrated Media Assocation generously allowed us to share the report with our own audience after an agreed-upon period of time. Since 14 months have passed since the initial publication of this report, neither Idealware nor the funders can guarantee that the information it contains is up to date. However, we’re confident that it still provides tremendous value to the sector.

Register on Idealware's website to download this resource for FREE!

Nov
26
 

LSC has promoted the use of technology to expand its grantees’ provision of legal services to the low-income population and to develop a library of accessible self-help materials for unrepresented persons. The Technology Summit Report outlines a vision for how technology can serve as a vehicle for access to justice across the United States. LSC has also updated the document Technologies That Should Be in Place in a Legal Aid Office Today(2014 Tech Baselines) that was first issued in 2008.

To build on and enhance this work,  LSC has established a new Technology Fellowship Program. The Fellowship program allows employees of LSC grantees to apply for a fellowship to implement one of the five strategies from the LSC Technology Summit or one of the capacities/functions from the 2014 Tech Baselines not currently in place at the grantee program.

The 5 target areas outlined from The Technology Summit Report are:

Statewide Legal Portals: A single, statewide mobile web access portal to which a user will be directed no matter where he/she comes into the system

Document Assembly: Users will answer questions regarding their legal matter and a forms system will use the information to generate the appropriate forms

Mobile Technologies: Access to justice services will be location-independent and accessible using smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. (e.g. smartphone scanning for document submission)

Business Process Analysis: Involves mapping of how tasks are performed using standard conventions for depiction processes ensuring complete understanding of how to perform tasks at all levels.

Expert Systems and Intelligent Checklist: Clients enter information into an expert systems which generates legal information tailored for them or legal advocates. Intelligent checklists guide clients and legal advocates through processes.

 

 The LSC Technology Fellowship Program includes:

  •  A scholarship to attend the 2015 TIG Conference, as well as a special pre-conference session for fellows.
  •  A mentor from within the legal aid community to assist with the implementation of the project.
  •  At least three webinars over the next year sponsored by  the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (LSNTAP) to support the fellows in their project implementation.
  •  A final project presentation at either the 2015 NLADA Conference or the 2016 TIG Conference to showcase the projects.

Applicants must complete a short online form and propose a project that either implements a strategy from the LSC Tech Summit or helps their program implement a baseline or tech capacity not currently in place in the program.

 LSC will sponsor the scholarships and attendance at the 2015 TIG Conference and will provide travel expenses for the final project presentation.  All remaining expenses to support the project will be the responsibility of the grantee, including the time of the fellow for working on the project and project expenses.  The number of fellowships offered will be determined by LSC based on the funds available, but the fellowship class will likely be around 10 to 12. LSC will select all fellows.

 

To assist LSC with providing fellows appropriate support and resources, LSC will partner with the Technology Section of the NLADA on this initiative. This section has been a valuable partner for LSC with planning and conducting the Technology Summit and with the revisions to the Tech Baselines.

Please share this opportunity with your staff. The application deadline is Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST. If you have questions regarding the fellowship, contact David Bonebrake at dbonebrake@lsc.gov or 202-295-1547.

Apply Now!

Nov
25
 

Cloud Computing is  an emerging computing technology that uses the internet and remote servers to maintain data and applications.  I'm assuming that most of you already cloud compute at some level professionally, personally, or both and reap some of the many benefits including:

   Image by elhombredenegro |CC BY 2.0               

hacker
  • Reduced spending on technology
  • Allowing employees to work remotely anywhere in the world with internet access
  • Improved accessibility
  • Project Management
  • Access files on any computer/tablet/mobile device
  • Many more!


With these benefits, however, come many concerns primarily related to keeping  information safe, accessible, and secure when it is stored in the cloud (on remote servers).  Safety and security concerns are definitely not unfounded. Massive data breaches related to large established companies are becoming  everyday news, and users should be cautious when using the cloud especially for sensitive information.   I highly  recommend checking out this interactive infographic about the World's Biggest Data Breaches. The visualization allows you to filter the data by year, how information was leaked, number of records stolen, data sensitivity, and more. It is also just really neat looking.   

 

 I don't want to make you paranoid about cloud computing or to think that putting your information on the internet is less secure than keeping it in house. If you are not  regularly checking your systems, conducting penetration and recovery tests, and training employees, you are likely to improve your security by moving to cloud based storage.  That being said, keeping your information safe in the cloud is a two-way street between vendors and end users like you. Here is what you can do to keep your information safe.

 

One of the  best ways to keep your information safe is to understand how data breeches happen and how to prevent them.

 

 According to the Infographic, the methods of leak include:

  • Accidentally Published
  • Hacked
  • Inside Job
  • Lost/Stolen Computer
  • Lost/stolen media
  • Poor security

 

You don't need to be a network administrator to take precautions. Here are 6 tips to help keep your data safe in the cloud!

 

TIP #1 Passwords & Two-Factor Authentication

 

Your passwords for accessing sensitive information need to be strong and secret. Don't give your passwords out.  This may be a no-brainer, but people are scammed into giving hackers their passwords everyday. Don’t give up your passwords.

 

Create strong passwords: Microsoft has a tool for testing the strength of your passwords. I used to struggle with creating and remembering strong passwords, but now I use mnemonic  tricks to help me create difficult passwords that are easy for me to remember.  Here is an example from makeuseof.com

Take a phrase: Little Boy Blue, Come Blow Your Horn. The Sheep's In The Meadow. The Cow's In The Corn.

 Replace: the "s" with a 5 and "L" with a 7

Create your password using the first letter of each word and your replacement numbers: 7bbcbyht5itmtcitc

 

Use 2-Factor Authentication:  by requiring more than on log-on factor, you increase the level of difficulty required to break into your account.  Google has a 2-step verification sign-in option which sends a code to your mobile device after you enter your password. The code is then used as the second form of authentication which means that a hacker would have to have your password and mobile device to break in.  There are several different methods used for 2-step authentication, and if you are dealing with sensitive information, 2-factor authentication is critical.

 

TIP #2 Choose The Right Vendor

 

When looking for a vendor there are several important factors you want to keep in mind to make sure security is a priority:

  • Encryption: find a vendor that encrypts your data at all times including when it is in transit.
  • Uptime: How much of the time will you be able to access your information. This information typically comes in 9's and doesn't include planned maintenance. 99.99 or 99.9% is what you should be looking for here.
  • HIPAA Compliance:  If your cloud provider is HIPPA Compliant, using the service is probably safer than keeping sensitive data on paper or local servers which can easily be stolen. Other regulatory compliance certificates to look for are SAS70 and SSAE16 which are processes that a vendor goes through to be certified having a high degree of security.
  • If you’re storing credit card numbers, you vendor needs to be compliant with PCI DSS

TIP #3 Educate and Train  Staff

Your staff might think that  because they work at a small non profit, they are not at risk for a data breech. This isn't true. While larger companies have a broader appeal to professional hackers, most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Educate your staff to make sure they are following all safety procedures especially when dealing with sensitive information. According to an article about the inevitability of data breaches,  "One open port or bone-headed password is enough to get 'owned'."  Everyone in the office must make  security a priority in order to keep your data and your client's information safe.  Employees should be trained regularly and updated about all new security risks and procedures.

 

TIP # 4 Track Inventory

 

Data breeches often occur when computers or other media are lost or stolen. Keep track of your organization's computers, USB's, hard drives, and other hardware that could, if stolen, result in a data breech. There was just a conversation on our LSTech Listserv about Hardware Inventory Management. Here are a few of the software programs that other legal services programs are using:

DELL Kace: Free trial available, Inventory management, software distribution and more.

System Center Essentials: Cheap licenses available on Tech Soup.

Spiceworks: Free application.  The IT manager who sent this one seemed really enthusiastic about this free program's capabilities.

 

TIP # 5 Network Security

 

Make sure that your network is protected with firewalls, intrusion prevention, intrusion detection,  anti-virus protection and malware-detection. Also, make sure these programs are up to date. Turn on automatic updates to install important updates on all computers in the network.

 

TIP # 6 Control Access to Information

 

This step is often overlooked, but critical to take into account. One of the best ways to prevent data breeches is simply controlling who has access to information. Temporary staff and Interns probably don't need to have access to client info. This also includes access to the servers which comes in when choosing vendors. Make sure your vendor controls who accesses you information.

 

Prioritize your data in terms of document type from most to least sensitive. Make sure you take extra precautions for highly sensitive information like medical history, documents about abuse of a minor, social security numbers, donor information etc. For sensitive information, a layered approach to security encompassing these 6 tips is the best way to keep your data safe. 

Nov
17
 

Creating and Building a Legal Aid Dashboard

Laura Quinn, Executive Director, Idealware, who will lead the class.

Peter Campbell, CIO, Legal Services Corporation

Kristin Verrill, Attorney, Atlanta Legal Aid Society

 

  1. What is a Dashboard?
  1. 7 Steps to Your Own Dashboard
    1. Define who and what it's for
    1. Understand what your users want
    1. Map metrics to your needs
    1. Choose your dashboard platform
    1. Design charts and displays
    2. Implement and roll out
    3. Plan to iterate
  1. Some Dashboard Case Studies

 

Dashboards consolidate information to help measure monitor, and manage the way you work.

 

What data does a dashboard track?

It depends on the organization, but it could include:

  • Operational data: day-to-day data. for example: the number of open cases assigned to each attorney, average time that a case is open, or time spent per program.
  • Program spend and budget
  • Program impact: client satisfaction.
  • More Specific: ie, calculated metrics like the average time that a case is open or the time spent per program.

 

STEP 1: Define Who and What you Dashboard is For:

Who will be the highest priority users?

Who are you designing the dashboard for?

Will there be additional types of users?

Is your goal to Centralize key Metrics? Do you want everyone to be able to seethe same set of metrics, to help keep everyone on the same page. Is this for the board, the ED, the public, etc?

 

  • Or will staff choose their own metrics. Will they be customized to help people with their own jobs, but don't necessarily get everyone on the same page.
  • Is data self-service a goal. Do you want to allow staff to look up data themselves rather than requesting it from a central team.
  • Define what success looks like: resist the urge to make something that's all things to all people.

 

"The more you know going into it, the more success you will have -Peter Campbell"

 

STEP2: Understand What Your Users Want From the Dashboard

Find out what they currently do: convene staff members and talk about their current processes for decision making. Pay more attention to gaps and workaround than to what they say they'd use.

 

Consider the "Magical Dashboard": ask people to draw out the information they'd like to have can be useful.-- often desires are surprisingly simple.

 

Define what they really need

  • Simple summary of key data
  • Complex indicators
  • Ability to tailor their own need
  • To be able to drill into details
  • To do scenario planning

 

STEP 3: Map Metrics to Your Needs

Find overlap in what you want to know and what you can collect.

What data will help you make decisions?

Where will the data come from?

  • Do you have the data.
  • How easy will it be to pull it for your dashboard.
  • What kind of transformation will it need.

Don't Underestimate this process: for many orgs, designing the right metrics-those that are both useful and practical-is the hardest part of a dashboard process.

 

Kristin: Start with information you already have in your Case Management System

 

STEP 4: Choose Your Dashboard Platform

What Platform will work best?

Your Existing Legal Case Management System: probably has a lot of your data.

An Excel Spreadsheet

A plug-in reporting or dashboard tool.

Such as:

Conceptually similar to an excel spreadsheet.

Or an external reporting tool

Or A Custom-Built Dashboard: more flexibility, but likely requires more time and effort.

 

STEP 5: Design Charts and Displays

Match your metrics to visuals-let the data itself take center stage.

Keep your data clean.

Beware the glitzy graphic: how much are you taking up with glitz rather than information

In many instances, display the data in different ways. People like the big picture, and to drill down into specifics.

 

STEP 6: Implement and Roll Out Your Dashboard

Bring the data together with your visuals and platform to let the magic happen.

Obviously, the effort and process will depend hugely on what you are doing

Roll it out thoughtfully:

Don't forget about training and the process of getting people on board

It doesn't matter how great it is if no one uses it.

 

STEP 7: Plan to Iterate

Start with baby steps

It's much easier to figure out what's needed by iterating than through a huge design process

 

Refine Your Data as Well

Your dashboard is only as good as your data-but making it more visible can often inspire improvements in data quality.

 

Some Dashboard Case Studies:

 

 Atlanta Legal Aid Society

  • Awarded a TIG in 2012 to develop and Executive Dashboard in their existing case management system, LegalServer.
  • The dynamic reports allow the executive team to both see a high-level overview of programs and services, and drill down to see outcomes for a specific program or individual.

Blue Ridge Legal Services

  • Static charts and graphs built in Microsoft Excel, displaying performance metrics to compare individual offices, programs, and case handlers
  • Used for  individual performance reports for staff or offices
  • Displaying results more more
  • Long-term goal is to create a template file in Excel, allowing staff to quickly create dashboards from custom reports or queries.

Utah Legal Services

  • Awarded a TIG in 2010 to develop dashboards in Kemp's Case Works to provide a clearer and more user-friendly version of their quarterly performance reports.

 

 

Pages