Knowledge Network Gets Organized, 21st-Century Style

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Tell us about your organization. Knowledge Network is British Columbia's public, educational television broadcaster, similar to PBS in the States. We offer television programming that's commercial-free and children-friendly. We've got 60 full-time employees and we're publicly funded. What problems were you facing? One of the issues that we had was trying to look at a way to better manage our projects. We do a number of television productions and new media productions throughout the year and I think, in the past, a lot of us used email to manage projects. Email of course is not a system to manage projects, it's a system to communicate. We had to find a system that would help us to take our documents and consolidate them in a single repository--be able to schedule, be able to create tasks--but all in a consolidated environment that was going to be online.
How did you select InfoStreet StreetSmart? The first thing of course is that it's entirely online. It provides that flexibility so that anyone can log in from anywhere. [Its] calendaring system is also very sophisticated: It not only allows you to set up personal calendars, but [also] calendars for projects and calendars for resources. The other aspect was being able to consolidate all your documents within a single repository. You can have PDFs or any Office documents, you can have movie clips up there, dump them in this virtual library and have anyone access those documents from there. It seems like [InfoStreet] thought about a lot of these things up front, so [the application] gives the user a lot of control, and a lot of flexibility. And it's inexpensive, which is great, [with] us being a not-for-profit organization. For 60 users it didn't cost a lot of money to get this launched. How did the implementation go? We piloted the project first with a production that we were doing, so we got about 16 people to use it and they said, "This is a product we're interested in using." Then we set up a test system and went ahead and did entire-staff training, to get everyone to move from the old environment of just using email or writing stuff down on paper and actually put them into the new millennium. We've had the system now in place for coming up to two years in April. The real strength of the product is the usability of it, so from that perspective, it's gone really, really well. What have been the main rewards? Let's focus on efficiency: People couldn't tell you before [where information was]. Now, it's a system of, "Yeah, you just go and get that document." It's become so [much] a part of how we work every day now. Our old systems were internal systems and they didn't have a Web presence, so if I was at home and wanted to check my schedule? Couldn't do it. With this, I log in and look at my schedule and I'm set. I think the cost was another benefit. Really to the praise of InfoStreet, it's a relatively low-cost solution that allows you to do tons of things. That ROI is magnified right away: You make your ROI, like, immediately. What are your plans for the future? We want to change certain things around the use of uploading to the portal. We think that could happen in a bit of an easier manner. The most recent thing would be the CRM. We have just started using CRM, so it's really right in the test phases. We've got about four or five databases that don't talk to each other at all, and some of them are in fact quite old databases. We have a huge audience base of people who write to us and we also have a donor base of 30,000 people that donate to the Knowledge Network. So we have all of that, but at the same time, none of that information has been consolidated, so we don't know what we're doing with it--we just have it. We want to begin to populate our CRM with that kind of information. 5 Fast Facts age of the initiative? Two and a half years. who was involved? Myself, the director of television production and new media, a piloting team of various staff--13 people total. best idea? It's allowed us to do things with projects we weren't able to do before--to organize and to have that documentation centralized. biggest surprise? That it was all online! You could actually have a non-Web publisher publishing stuff online. biggest crm mistake made? There are things with a smaller company--the product might not be as sophisticated--so there have been some minor sophistication issues. The weakness has to be the fact that you're dealing with a fairly small company, not to say that the product isn't good.
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