December 2001

GATHERING CONTENT FOR NEW SITES can be a major headache. If the budget is too small to include a Content Management System, the gathering of text, images, button names and approvals for new content can be overwhelming. One good approach is to create a spreadsheet for each content section. Columns can be labeled with file names, descriptions, responsible writers, and approvals; then sorted by the category of interest. As a site nears completion, the spreadsheet can act as a punch list for gathering remaining content. A site map also helps, by describing visually (in PowerPoint, for example) how the pages of the site are linked together.

'TIS THE SEASON TO BE TRACKING INVENTORY levels and order shipments. Many E-Commerce sites still do not provide accurate inventory (availability) information to customers, since doing so requires a complex backend system that ties the publicly presented E-Commerce site with the company's legacy inventory system. Companies are sometimes reluctant to spend money on this, or worry that customers won't buy the product if they know how long the delivery time will be. The problem occurs when unsuspecting customers order the product and then generate numerous customer support calls as the true delivery time unfolds through numerous status emails. The cost in support and in lost customer goodwill can be tremendous.

CUSTOM CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT can be an appealing alternative to large, expensive CRM systems from like companies like Siebel. For much less money, companies can create custom CRM systems that perform customer relationship tasks specifically tuned to their particular business. For example, a Web application could prompt your customer service representatives with new add-on product suggestions, driven by the customer's information on your Web site. An OMIX favorite is to generate custom newsletters geared toward each Web customer's selected interests.

THE OFTEN UNAPPRECIATED PROJECT MANAGER is a very key person on an application/Web development team. It is common knowledge among integrators that project failures are almost always due to project management problems. It is also common knowledge that no one wants to fund project management, which (unlike the recognized value of good engineering and graphic design) is perceived as unnecessary overhead. But a good project manager is the heartbeat of a well-run project, the person who sees to it that customer needs and the site's goals are met, on time and in accordance with the specifications, milestones, and budget. Project managers, who also serve as cheerleaders for the unrecognized heroic efforts so often required for great successes, deserve a few huzzahs themselves!

SILICON VALLEY COMING BACK FROM THE DEAD, we think. Cisco, which has been a bellwether of the Net economy, showed pretty good results in the last quarter and reports that its orders are stabilizing. Also, the stock market has been down for almost 2 years, which is a very long bear market historically. OMIX is noticing a pickup in companies ready to begin investing again in Internet and application infrastructure. A positive by-product of the technology slowdown is that talent and space are available again in Silicon Valley, which really helps startups.

FOR QUESTIONS, REMOVALS, OR TO RECEIVE OMIX NEWS contact Kyle Hurlbut at 650-330-8980, kyle@OMIX.com