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panFora Evaluation Guidelines

Use of technology consultants weigh the following criteria most heavily: ease of use, ease of administration and value for money.

"Ease of use" can be defined as software that does not require extensive training by users in order to reap the benefits of the software.

"Ease of administration" can be defined as software that does not require extensive training by company administrator prior to being really able to administer the software.

"Value for money" means not only the cost of the software but the related costs of deploying the software. Can it run on the company's current network infrastructure or will new servers be required? Is there a separate workstation and server fee? Is everything included in the base price or do certain pieces, such as the ability to use the software remotely on a laptop, cost extra?

Regarding efficient knowledge management, the search capabilities of a discussion and document management system can save companies a significant amount of time and money. "A Gartner group study estimates that professionals spend as much as half their time searching for documents, but only 15 percent of their time reading them." [Logan, R "Document Processing" Computing Canada JAN 18 1995]

Planning a panFora Discussion Forum

panFora's Planning Guide is designed to assist you in creating and implementing a discussion forum for your organization. Why? Plans add focus and direction to your implementing a panFora environment with the greatest chance of success.

  1. Look at your goal
    If your goal is to provide a sense of community and a way for your site users to interact with each other, a panFora discussion forum is an excellent option. But be sure to consider who your users are and what they need, and make sure that an interactive panFora discussion forum, and not an info dissemination mailing list, is best to meet their needs. The difference being that participants are freely able to have party-like conversations with, and talk directly to one another in a public forum such as panFora.

  2. Get Organized
    What we're doing and who's doing it. Before you begin planning or implementing a discussion forum, you need to identify who will be the members/users of the forum, articulate a clear goal for the forum, develop a plan of action in implementing your discussion forum, and create a communication plan to tell folks about it once your panFora exists. In particular, you need to be able to give an elevator pitch as to what the discussion forum is for (what topics and what activities), who should participate, and in what way (i.e. how each would participate).

  3. Implementation
    Two things to be sure to include in your implementation of your discussion forum:
    • Usability (to make sure it's easy to use):
      There are a number of options for forum design, including how the forum topics, threads and messages are structured. Consider your users' comfort level with computers and the Internet carefully when making decisions about the structure. Before you give users access to the forum you are creating, try a number of different looks. It's easy to do with panFora. And whatever organization, look and feel you choose, make sure it's easy to use. In addition, panFora has great help sections for new users.

    • Usage (to get people to use it)
      You built it, now will they come? You may need to start some discussion threads to get your forum really going. To kick off your forum, consider starting a discussion thread in the feedback topic area, asking people what they think of the forum
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