Well, it is what it is. I hope the conference will be rescheduled. But in the meantime, don’t sit around and wait for GSA to create opportunities to collaborate - do it yourself! How? Well, here are a few ideas.
1. Call some other web managers in your geographic area and set up a meeting. You can choose agencies whose missions are related to yours or a variety of agencies. You can (should) include state and local government web managers. Agenda ideas?
- Invite speakers – there are savvy web experts everywhere or you can do it as a group webinar
- Create a seminar series or brown bag lunches on specific topics. Share expertise and figure out ways to work together.
- Do “show and tell,” allowing web managers to showcase things that are working well or things they have in the works. But don’t just talk at each other. Work together. Could you adopt common methods for organizing content or helping customers who get stuck on a task that crosses agencies? The more we do things alike, the easier it is for customers to use all our sites. Could you work together to come up with better sequences of related content, so customers can move between agencies seamlessly?
- Do usability testing – pick two or three sites from your meeting group, come up with some typical (top task) problems, and use 3 members of your group as guinea pigs (Steve Krug says you can use just about anyone to test your site, and you’ll still get worthy results). Work together to fix the problems. Or watch a First Fridays session together. Learn how GSA does usability testing and then do some yourselves.
- Include managers of other delivery channels – call centers, correspondence units, publications, in-person customer support. Figure out how you can work together to make customer service seamless and effective, no matter how customers interact with the agencies.
2. Set up local or regional conference calls to supplement or follow-up on the Government Web Managers Forum calls. Focus on opportunities for collaboration. How can you work across agencies to share resources or conduct training or measure customer behavior when a task cuts across agency boundaries?
3. Use the Government Web Managers Forum listserv to kick around ideas. Don’t just look for best practices – look for ways to collaborate together to solve problems and improve customer service. Think big.
4. Get involved in one of the Sub-Councils of the Federal Web Managers Council. Collaborate with your peers to come up with tools and resources everyone can use.
5. Use Ning or GovLoop or LinkedIn or Go to Meeting or any number of technology tools to set up task groups around particular issues or initiatives.
Be creative. And whatever you do, share the experiences and outcomes of your collaborations with your colleagues, through the Government Web Managers Forum. Success begets success, so let others know how you’re working together to improve customer service.