Technology Decision Makers

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A group for those in nonprofit IT decision-making roles to connect with peers and share best practices. This Technology Decision Makers group is for nonprofit IT or MIS Directors/Managers as well as CIOs and CTOs to connect with their peers and share best practices. Topics for discussion include, but are not limited to: hardware and software management, product reviews, emerging technology, best practices, collaborating effectively with other departments, and management conundrums. Membership is restricted to IT staff at nonprofit organizations.

Video conferencing

  • 1.  Video conferencing

    Posted Jun 24, 2018 20:03
    Hi,

    Well, I've been lurking on this list for the past month or two ... then I end up posting 2 consecutive days! Hope I don't wear out my welcome ... :-)

    I just got one of those "this has to be your top priority right now" emails.

    Our president wants us to have video conferencing capabilities in place by September 1.

    From what I understand, he wants enough bells and whistles s that all 35 people in our monthly meetings (at least half of which will be physically located in the conference room with the others joining us via video conference) can see and hear one another, as well as be able to view slides/etc. from a PowerPoint presentation and/or screen share.

    So far, he is recommending Zoom because others he knows use it in their organizations.

    I'm looking for help/advice ... this is a new process to me, so I'm gradually picking up the jargon regarding the technology.

    Has anyone used Zoom in this capacity? If so, how has it worked? Anyone have success with other products?

    How about setting up a video conferencing room? I see some places sell a full "kit" with all the hardware and software - anyone been through that process?

    What does this type of thing do to your bandwidth during the meeting?

    Thanks for any advice/help you can provide.
    matt

    Tech Accelerate


  • 2.  RE: Video conferencing

    Posted Jun 25, 2018 05:58
    Matt,

    I think Zoom is a fine choice.  A lot of people use it, I'm an attendee on many zoom calls and it works well. I also have a single account I used for testing.  The outlook plugin works great. The barrier for me was getting a toll-free number for dial-in seemed a little to pricey for what it was. The licensing can be expensive as well, when looking at your head-count.  When you look at the costs, it grows quickly based on number of hosts.  Some orgs go the "share" route, which certainly keeps costs lower, but then you do need to manage who is using it when.  Otherwise, the technology is very sound and I really like it.

    With that said, I'm also a big fan of Microsoft and Office 365, which at certain licensing levels gives you Skype for Business.  That is my default video conferencing solution for NAMI.  We have 90 employees, 20 are remote and we have frequent meetings that involve remote staff.  The cost of a toll-free number is based on usage so I'm only paying for minutes used.  We use Skype for Business both internally and with external users.  Our favorite feature is being able to control "mute" for attendees.  But sharing content is a close second.  Skype also provides a whiteboard, and we have some staff who like that feature.

    We've outfitted are larger conference rooms with the Logitech Group Conferencing devices, which is good for people sitting at the table... for people who might be further away, we do ask them to come to the table to speak to ensure remote staff can hear... Remote staff also complain about side conversations, mic's pick those up and it sounds awful to remote staff.   For connectivity, we use Dock Bars in our conference rooms so staff can just bring their laptops in, plug in, and start a call using the in-room equipment.

    I also noticed that remote staff who complained about audio quality were either on bad wifi connections or had older computers.  Where we had older laptops with SATA drives, they often had issues... compared to staff with newer SSD drives didn't.  One thing you'll want to consider, making sure staff have sufficient machines to support this.

    Good luck with your endeavor and keep posting questions, that is why this forum is here.



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    James Stewart
    NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness
    Arlington, VA
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 3.  RE: Video conferencing

    Posted Jun 25, 2018 07:36

    Matt,

     

    My org uses Zoom for all of our video calls.  We have it setup in conference rooms ranging in size from 10 chairs to 100 chairs plus several individual offices.  For the smaller rooms we're just using a standard PC/TV.  For the larger ones it's critical to have a good camera/microphone system or you'll never make out people and voices.  I think it also takes time to get people comfortable with remembering to look/talk at the camera when in a conference room and to sort of feel the room to know how to participate

     

    For setup our internal IT team did the small ten person conference rooms and then they hired an AV company to come in and setup the big rooms with projectors and high-def video and fancier mics.  Not sure on bandwidth as that's not my area but I know we have a lot of it and there are often several video calls going on at the same point and I've never noticed issues.

     

    I think the biggest call I've been on had 9 different connections to it, though I know our BOG has been experimenting with bigger calls (50-100 connections).  From what I've heard those have been working well, but you have to have order to start with because there's just no way 100 people can all speak at the same time.  For those only a select few on are speak and they use the chat for people to raise their hands to speak and someone monitors.  It's tricky.

     

    Hope this helps.

     

    -Andrea

     

    Andrea M. Chempinski, Esq.

    Associate Director of Online Services

    Direct: 202.507.7608 I Email: achempinski@aila.org

     

    American Immigration Lawyers Association

    Main: 202.507.7600 I Fax: 202.783.7853 I www.aila.org

    1331 G Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005

     

     

     




    Tech Accelerate


  • 4.  RE: Video conferencing

    Posted Jun 25, 2018 10:37
    Zoom works great for us too, easy to use, has all the features we need, and the price is reasonable. With that said, there's no shortage of video conferencing options available these days. Use whatever option fits best for your organization

    We also utilize this awesome device called a Meeting Owl, which revolutionized our capability to host video conferences where there's a group in a room. And that works with any video conferencing platform.

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    Jason Samuels
    IT Operations Manager
    American Craft Council
    Minneapolis, MN
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 5.  RE: Video conferencing

    Posted Jun 25, 2018 12:20
    Another +1 for Zoom.  We transitioned from WebEx and GoToMeeting two years ago and haven't looked back.

    Our staff calls have 25-30 people in a large conference room, and another 20-25 or so folks on Zoom from remote locations.  I'm the one who monitors these calls and the pieces I'd advise on is mute all on entry if possible (it's not for my org most of the time), and ensure folks calling in via phone but also using the computer sync their phone audio with their video connection, otherwise you essentially have two connections for that person (read: a big PITA).

    The breakout rooms feature is fantastic and I've actually used the Remote Support tool to assist a few remote folks with other computer issues.  The drawback to this is you have to toggle between these two features, both cannot be activated at the same time.

    We recently shifted to all connections on Zoom and have had no bandwidth issues in the office, and I've found bandwidth with Zoom in general is better than our previous vendors.  That said, if your participants have a crappy connection, or are trying to Zoom on a hotspot, expect to see some embarrassing frozen facial expressions. :)

    Hope this helps!


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    Amber Hobbs
    Technology Manager
    Center for Community Change
    Washington, DC
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 6.  RE: Video conferencing

    Posted Jun 26, 2018 08:59
    We also use Zoom and recommend it. We moved away from GoTo Meeting a couple of years ago. We tested a few other solutions and Zoom worked best for us. We have 1 account for each department and the departments share their accounts with each other. It seems to work well for the most part. We are also in the process of testing and using Zoom Webinar and it seems to be a good product too.

    I think the organizational adoption has been easier with Zoom. People picked it up pretty quickly and embraced the change. It is pretty user friendly.


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    Contessa Siegner
    IT Director
    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    Matthews, NC
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 7.  RE: Video conferencing

    Posted Jun 27, 2018 13:29
    ​Quick question to add to this.  How do you manage, or do you manage, the folks that are video conferencing in?  Is there any support to provide?

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    Melissa Berrett
    Director of IT
    Oregon Health and Science University Foundation
    Portland, OR
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    Tech Accelerate


  • 8.  RE: Video conferencing

    Posted Jul 25, 2018 16:22
    Sorry, I was on vacation when this came through originally!

    I also recommend Zoom, which has a discount available through TechSoup for about 50% off list.  https://www.techsoup.org/products/zoom-meetings-pro-plan-bundle--1-year-subscription-%E2%80%93-access-to-discounted-rates--G-50363--

    We recently went through a fairly in-depth analysis of about a dozen possible options and landed on Zoom and GoToMeeting being pertty close to tied.  We decided to use Zoom because they can be used in a HIPPA compliant fashion if you have that need.  We have several clients using it currently.  Generally, they are smaller agencies (<20 people) who only bought 1 or 2 hosts; we then create an Outlook shared calendar for people to go and reserve the host so it can be shared with minimal effort.  We hope this will also allow us to see when we have conflicts and might want to buy more hosts.

    Thanks,

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    Tom Anderson
    Founder
    IT4 Causes
    Midlothian, VA
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    Tech Accelerate