REVIEWER: Virginia Ramsey, director of technology for Student Life, Inc.
BACKGROUND: Student Life is a 12-year-old Christian organization founded by president Randy Hall. Student Life offers more than 70 youth and children's summer camps and will host more than 50,000 kids this coming summer. In 1997, the company started a conference spring tour in 12 U.S. cities. In addition, Randy Hall recently began a publishing company which has transformed into Student Life Bible Study. The organization now has more than 1,400 customers.
PLATFORMS: Most employees use Macintosh-based systems with an OSX operating system.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Student Life is a leading Christian organization that hosts camps and conferences and produces Bible study curriculum for youth and children. As the publishing company was being formed in 2004, the decision was made to deliver teacher materials online - not in a printed book that would sit in a warehouse. Octane8 from SunGard Workflow Solutions became the answer to our problem. Our operations are more efficient, and we've saved a lot of time and money. Technology is now a centerpiece for our growing international organization.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Octane8 has many features that are beneficial to Student Life. Octane8 easily manages multiple Web sites, portals, intranets, extranets and content. While Octane8 has many built-in features, it was designed for customization. Specifically, we have been using the product for custom applications and the Web top for building new Web sites throughout our organization. Octane8 is used for churches to manage their youth Bible study teachers, weekly Bible study lessons, and posting of daily activities at each of our 72 summer camps. Presently, we have 48 Bible study Web sites and an additional 60 for summer camps. Over the next six years, we will grow to have 300 weekly Bible study sites and, potentially, a Web site for each customer, which could yield as many as 3,000 sites. Octane8 allows us to manage all of this content and information through one centralized solution.
STRENGTHS: The product is very easy to use for our staff members. The formatting capabilities and creation of internal and external links are very user friendly. It is simple to import graphics and pictures. Another key feature that is easy to use is the copying from one of our Web sites to another. A user can copy a page without copying a site. In addition, we've made great use of the pop-up windows that open in an existing frame to help the user better understand page content or direct the viewer to a more detailed explanation about a particular topic.
WEAKNESSES: We had problems at first because we were focused primarily on Octane8's Macintosh version and found the integration of the Macintosh product to be a bit difficult. This initial difficulty also affected the importation of some of the business templates. All of these issues were sorted out and fixed by SunGard's technical staff.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Student Life went through proposals for other products but found that Octane8 was the best selection due to the product's capabilities, staff support, our personnel needs, scope, ease of use and product pricing.
DELIVERABLES: SunGard's Octane8 manages two facets of our organization. Parents are able to go to our Web site and view what their children are doing during camp activities, and our Bible study programs for our teachers and their students are all coordinated through our site.
VENDOR SUPPORT: SunGard Workflow Solutions has developed a close working relationship with our staff here at Student Life. Upon installation, the company spent a lot of one-on-one time with us on the phone to walk us through installation and implementation and to answer our questions. The technical staff is available and has been here at our office to help us with the process.
DOCUMENTATION: Because we were one of the first companies to purchase Version 5, an updated users' guide wasn't yet available. However, we were provided several hours of training that taught us everything we needed to know to run the product smoothly.
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