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  1. #1
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    Thoughts About Corporate IT Input on Internal Website Design

    I work for the banking division of major fashion retailer, which manages the company's credit operations. I've been working over the past couple of years to develop and design an internal website for use internally within my company. Part of the process involves our corporate IT team reviewing the site and giving feedback about whether or not the design and implementation strategy is feasible.

    It's been a long journey to get to this point (obviously) and I want to make sure that I'm properly prepared to address any questions or issues that might pop up. I've developed websites for personal use and small, private companies on other occasions, but have never done anything on a corporate level before. Can anyone give me an idea of what the IT team might look at as far as coding and hosting concerns for an internal website that contains a vast amount of proprietary data? Any thoughts would be greatly welcomed.

    Obviously, I can't post any specific code here (though I know it would be helpful). I can tell you that my development tools have been limited to notepad, what I can find on the internet and MS Paint. My site uses basic HTML, CSS and Javascript-- nothing more advanced than that. All of my code has passed validation with no errors.

    Thanks!

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    I've worked with a company with an internal site. I can tell you that the site was more than just simple html/css/javascript.

    Concerns that may be brought up are:
    • Maintenance
      • How is the site going to be maintained and by who?
      • Does the person who maintains this site need o know HTML/CSS/JS?
      • You may want to consider a CMS.
    • Security
      • Will any one on the internal network be able to access this site freely?
      • What about user authentication/authorization?


    I don't think your IT department is concerned about being able to support this. They can set up a web server relatively easily, but their concerns may be security and compliance with company policy and trying to maintain company information secure.

    Also, why have your development tools been limited to notepad? Why not a proper IDE like Netbeans or Eclipse? I'm sure it would save you some time, and your company some money.
    Last edited by theTortoise; 12-18-2011 at 04:50 PM.

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    dougcollins02 (12-19-2011)

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    Nice reply, tortoise.

    In addition, I'd mention that this is really late in the game for IT involvement. As a guy that used to be in IT doing security, it would continually amaze me that parts of the organization could spend years developing tools, knowing full well that IT had standards in the space of tools, infrastructure, supportability and security, but wait until their product was "done" to go synch up with IT. Many times we would run into fundamental design changes that were needed, that should have been figured out up front.

    In any event I would recommend getting a bit of communications going with the IT group, and seeing if they have some documentation on what your expectations should be for such a web site. Reviewing this in advance could save you quite a frustrating discussion later on.

    Dave

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    dougcollins02 (12-19-2011)

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    Thank you both, thetortoise and tracknut, for your responses. Both of them are tremendously helpful and give me some good things to think about when setting up a presentation on the internal site for our IT group.

    Dave-- there's some worry that IT in my company may want to take the project over (they've done this with other projects we've had in the past) and that's what we're trying to avoid. I'm in agreement that we need some IT support before we get moving further with this, but that's where we are right now. We want to have as much of a finished product is possible before we present to them to nip any ideas of a project takeover in the bud.

    Thetortoise-- here's a bit of background as far as why my tools have been limited:

    Before I started working for my current company, I gained a fair amount of knowledge in HTML/CSS/etc. and worked as Web Content Producer and in website management for an NFL franchise. As harder economic times fell and the management of the team turned over, the decision was made to let some of us go. I'm not bitter about this, mind you, but as they let the whole marketing department go (of which I was technically a part), I had to change careers and take a job that was a significant change in salary, position, and sector.

    In my new job in 2009, I was working on the phones in a call center for the banking side of a well-respected nationwide retailer in the fashion industry. When I first started, I was surprised at some of the web-based solutions the company used to make my position easier. We have about 300 people working in two offices across the country, all of whom were using the same systems that were under-documented and under-powered.

    I began to make some of my own solutions for my own personal use, including a website that I used that helped me organize and streamline my job. Since it was all basic HTML/CSS/Javascript code and our PC's are secured to the brim, I kept everything in my personal secured drive on my PC and ran it from there. The only tools that I had to build were notepad, my secured drive, and my knowledge of web building. My supervisor saw the website and thought it was great, and decided (unilaterally) to try it out with our team. The managers of the call center caught wind of what was going on and, perhaps rightfully, shut down the trial. That was in June of 2009, and since then I've been pushing to get this website approved for corporate use. A number of different things slowed it down, and looked like the idea was dead for some time.

    After a couple of years working my way up the ladder, I managed a move to the training department in August. Now as part of the training department, I was able to revive the idea and after a couple of successful presentations to my manager and other internal components we're now finally moving forward. In some way, the long break was beneficial-- I was able to continue developing simple solutions to complex problems we faced, and by my estimates the site could save us about $150,000-$250,000 in unproductively spent salary annually.

    I'm still limited to working with just Notepad for the time being, but I have more access to online resources and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get more complex web tools for the future. I'm sure my company already has licenses for them in some capacity, but in general my division of the company (the credit banking side) does not.

    Thanks again for the help, y'all. Any other thoughts about what to keep in mind would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by dougcollins02; 12-19-2011 at 04:02 PM. Reason: Just fixing some grammar.


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