Like Jan. 1, the fiscal new year is a time when many of us have an opportunity to start fresh. And I’m sure that many of us are approaching it in much the same way—with tighter budgets, greater pressures, and a drive to meet the demands of an increasingly clear and increasingly challenging vision for Johns Hopkins Medicine.

On the Internet Strategy team, we often end the previous fiscal year with a flurry of intense projects. In June alone, we launched a new device-friendly, responsive version of Hopkins Medicine magazine, integrated the Suburban Hospital site onto hopkinsmedicine.org, leveraged new online marketing techniques to drive more than 40,000 visitors to the new Healthy Aging Web presence and created seven other websites, including J-CHiP, endocrinology and the Gastric Cancer Center.

Apart from the long Fourth of July weekend with friends and family and one very celebratory happy hour with as many team members who can make it, we won’t be taking too much time to reflect on how far we’ve come. Like each of you, we’re rushing headlong into the coming year. We’re laying out project plans to meet our goals for fiscal year 2015 that support the Strategic Plan and that allow bandwidth to support projects we may have yet to hear about from stakeholders across the institution.

But first, I’d like to share one of our team’s resolutions, and I’d like to ask that you make a resolution of sorts, too—right now, while it’s still fresh on your mind. Our resolution relates to one of our greatest challenges—the need for our approach to the Web to become increasingly integrated despite the highly decentralized nature of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Our Resolution: Training and Support

One of our team’s most important goals for the coming year is to create training and support opportunities for anyone with Web responsibilities within the organization. We want to identify:

  • The strongest contributors, so we can help them grow their skills and understand core strategies
  • Stakeholders who have Web responsibilities but may lack time to keep pace with general trends or technologies, so we can determine ways to better meet their needs

In both of these scenarios, the most important things are that we build or rebuild relationships with people who are under pressure to deliver Web solutions within our organization and that we find ways in which we can utilize the strengths of our systems to achieve common goals.

During the last year, we had a great deal of success with this approach. For example, we achieved funding for the first dedicated support position to ensure that when you send a Web request for service, it will be followed up on in that same day. Our support specialist is dedicated to working one on one with many of our editors to make daily updates and improvements. She also worked with additional team members to update the Web Center website with style guides and documentation and to expand our online training resources.

Additionally, we conducted workshops on:

  • providing and managing an effective faculty profile for visitors and search engines,
  • publishing images to the Web (including the use of Photoshop),
  • and advertising strategies for search engines, LinkedIn and Facebook.

These support and training opportunities were critical, because they helped everyone involved better meet the pressures of their day-to-day Web demands. And more importantly, we achieved outcomes that leverage core strategic strengths more frequently—further propelling hopkinsmedicine.org in search engine rankings, creating more consistent experiences for Web visitors, and increasing efficiency in both the short- and long-term.

We’ll offer updated sessions of the faculty profile training this year. Additionally, we’re planning a number of new training workshops and materials for the site. If you would like to participate—or even better, if you’d like to share ideas and help us to shape these offerings—please get in touch.

A Resolution to Plan Ahead

I know that one of the biggest complaints about our team is how long it can take to get things done. And it’s true that we’re not yet positioned to fulfill all of the expectations and needs of the entire organization.

As I look to the next year, I know that one of our biggest challenges is planning for all the surprise projects and needs that come our way. Some, we’ll be able to handle quickly, but some are more complex. They’ll require that we get the right people in the room, experts from our faculty or staff, the right specialists and resources from the Internet Strategy team.

Today, I had a call with a few members of one of our core facilities who are seeking new solutions for online marketing. We talked about the challenges they are facing—widespread NIH funding cuts that affect all of their customers, the evolution of similar service providers at other universities, a visible increase in marketing resources among competitors and the overall low visibility of core facilities across Johns Hopkins Medicine, even for our own internal audiences.

We spoke early in their process, and both teams left the call with their own homework—research to conduct, knowledge to share, conversations to have.

Our strongest opportunity to be successful is the fact that we’re talking so early. We’re not just focusing on launching a website, and we’re not operating on a short deadline. We’re facing significant challenges, and we’re doing it with the time and space to make informed decisions and to line up the best resources.

So one thing that I’ll ask of you this year is to contact us as soon as possible. If you’ve got a problem that requires an online solution, let’s talk while we’ve got time to consider options, approach the problem strategically and share our limited resources.

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