Disappointed at Blackbaud

For those who don’t know, Commonground is a donor management system, formerly owned by a company called Convio. Convio was acquired by another (larger) company called Blackbaud earlier this year. At the end of August, Blackbaud announced their decision to retire Commonground…

It wasn’t only their business decision to pull the plug (here’s an excellent post about this), but the way it was handled, that makes me so deeply dissapointed at Blackbaund (and by extension at Convio) for showing so little care about the customers they had on this platform… indeed, for continuing to cultivate new customers for the platform at conferences earlier this year (read: we, at the Diabetes Hands Foundation) while not being certain of the future of the product.

As of today, there’s no searchable way to find information about their decision on the Blackbaud web site. Someone got an email from them and has made this link to the announcement from that email communication public… shameful that they don’t own their decision in a visible way and face the criticism it deserves from the 700+ customers that use the product. A streamlined version of this email found its way to the Commonground page of the Convio web site after we heard the news early last week:

It’s not just me, criticizing this decision (I am just a customer, and certainly not an expert at these kinds of software product). Robert Weiner, one of the world’s most knowledgeable people about donor management systems, wrote a very insightful post on Blackbaud’s decision to kill Commonground.

For what it’s worth, I as you to please sign this petition:

and I share below, the email I sent out to Melanie Matos, Senior PR person at Blackbaud. I know she cares, so I know she will pass this along to the right people. What will they do? We can only hope they think a bit more about their customers and this decision will do to them…

Hello Melanie,
I am reaching out to you as the Senior PR person at Blackbaud.

I was very disappointed at the way the announcement of the discontinuation of support for CommonGround was handled:
1) At the NTC event in SF, we were told by people at the booth, when I specifically asked about the future of CommonGround that there was no overlap with existing BB products, and CG was indeed one of the main reasons why Convio was being acquired by BB.
2) The way we learned about the discontinuation of the product was not directly but by way of the consultant we worked with in the implementation, several days after some people (who knows who) received a communication from Blackbaud about the decision… how about involving the customers and informing them first? You know who were are and we deserved at least that courtesy.
3) Last, although I copied BlackBaud in a recent tweet about this, I received absolutely no acknowledgement from the company.

We spent $4,000+ in the implementation of CG and dozens of staff hours in researching systems, finding that CG was the best option, getting the system up and running… and now we will have to budget for changing to a new system. Most likely, given this experience, it won’t be a Blackbaud solution.

I will be blogging about this. The way the decision was made and he announcement was handled shows very little care for the customer on the part of Blackbaud. Indeed, if you try to find information on the announcement through the web site… there’s none!

I am profoundly disappointed at Blackbaud and hope you can convey this to the higher ups.

How I Use Google Wave

Reading this great article about Google Wave by Chris Brogan made me think it would be a good idea to share my own views about the latest piece of the Google Puzzle to become unveiled (well, there have been others but this one seems like the most relevant new tool to come out of Mountain View, CA in a while!)

Like most people you can talk to, Google Wave has been a tremendous help in collaborating remotely with others in project work. Specifically, working with David Edelman around the World Diabetes Day USA initiatives last year became A LOT easier thanks to Google Wave. We’d both be on Wave and speaking through Skype as we wrote on the same wave, creating content together, correcting each other on the spot, literally crafting the entire campaign while saving ourselves rework, follow-up emails and tons of replies/replies/replies.

So, in that respect, conference calls and meetings can turn into work sessions, increasing productivity big time. By having users be on the same Wave they can be more on the same page (that came out a little cheesy!)

What are the big shortcomings I am seeing with Google Wave?

  • It’s still a bit rough on the edges: it’s definitely still an early adopters space, kind of like Twitter back in 2006-early 2007. So not too many people (at least not ALL people) are there, which makes it challenging if you want to collaborate seamlessly.
  • It still is very isolated from the rest of the Google suite of products. The two specific products that I MISS seeing it connect with are: Gmail and GTalk. Connecting it with Gmail (notifications about updates on Waves, etc.) is a no-brainer to me (I don’t mean easy to implement, but valuable to the user). Connecting it with GTalk, supporting video and audio while being on the same wave would make the use of other complementary tools like Skype or iChat unnecessary, since you have all you need to host your collaborative work session within Google Wave.
  • Bots that let you do interesting things within Google Wave besides straightup content co-creation are still a mystery to most. Getting by useful Wave Bots (such as the bot that lets you tweet from within Wave) is still more of an art than something structured, reminding me at times of the dark early days of the web, back in 1994-96, when directories like Yahoo! were the way to find good sites…

In the meantime, while Google Wave continues to evolve and become more robust, check out this useful 101 put together by LifeHacker, to help people make the most of Google Wave.

Useful Firefox Add-Ons to Gain Space

Or should I say, for people who absolutely need to have a ton of tabs open at the same time?

I’ve recently found two very useful Firefox add-ons:
-One, called Tab Mix Plus, I learned about as a result of starting my work here at Ning, which lets me organize tabs much better, stacked in two rows, highlighting the current tab, etc. It’s called
-The other one, which I learned about thanks to this post, called Vertigo. It lets you open your tabs vertically, thus gaining you back the room at the top and letting you more easily scan the titles of the open tabs.