for WEBSITE UPGRADES and GOING ONLINE
"Going Online" means enabling members
to access their accounts via the internet to update them and carry
out transactions, and providing additional access for management
group members to oversee their own special functions. It involves
installing software which has been designed specifically to run
LETS either as a self-contained site or as the back-end of an existing
site - if the group already has one.For an existing group the process
involves transferring membership data, and ensuring continuity with
the management of the group. On the basis of the projects undertaken
so far, we have identified a series of essential steps.
Our first consideration is
the 'health" of a LETS. Groups vary in the level of resources
they have amongst their membership and how well the managent group
is operating. Difficulties may have arisen through key people leaving,
lack of technical or management ability, conflicts, failure to outreach,
or just loss of enthusiasm. We have found some groups operating
without a constitution, which makes it difficult to know what to
do when things go wrong. Unless the group's membership package remains
attractive, members may drift away into friendly cliques, and lose
interest in supporting a formal scheme. Organisers may approach
us for support when there is confusion or apathy, or when when one
person is doing all the work. The good news is that web-based systems
enable LETS to be managed more easily and effectively.
Some groups are reluctant to change their administrative
methods, and if they are coping well with the system they already
have, we will not press them to go online. It may require a real
crisis and a change of management before there is a will to go through
the necessary steps, and this may require detailed "group process"
work. We can do this, but because of pressures on our time, we need
to know that the group is ready and willing to take advantage of
software before taking on the work, which may require an extended
consultation process within the scheme. Groups may carry out a modest
form of self-appraisal and communicate the results to LETSlink,
by filling in an extended version of our renewal
form. This may provide sufficient background, but in some cases
we won't know what's needed without a visit.
Some organisers will want to proceed one step at
a time. Others will want to complete as soon as possible. The table
below summarises the process. It can be customised for each group
to become an Action Plan, with an agreed Timescale and a Project
Budget. Once we have agreed the action plan, and the group has carried
out any consultation deemed necessary amongst the membership, we
will invoice the group and request payment in advance either for
the total, or by negotiation we may agree payment in stages or on
the basis of shared income - see below. Once the project has begun,
the Core Group undertakes not to entertain controversy about it
amongst the wider membership but to focus on successful implementation.
|1 Telephone Contact
Numbers are updated free of charge on the relevant county
page on the LETSlink UK website as a free-of-charge emergency
procedure at any time. This is seen as a way of establishing
friendly contact pending any further commitments being entered
upon. We link to the website of any genuine LETS group in good
faith on a reciprocal basis.
|2 The group becomes
a member of LETSlink UK - more
details are on this page - and agrees to work within its
guidelines, sending a current subscription - plus arrears in
sterling to the extent that it can afford -
any gaps in back-subscriptions will be put on record on the
account for the group, so that the lack of sterling funds
do not prevent groups from participating.
|Minimum £25 p.a. plus
optional donation of £25 per year for "lost"
|3 LETSlink updates
the Referral Form on the foot of the county page to include
an email address for the group, if this has not already been
set up for other known groups in the county. Any
back-log of local referrals is then forwarded to that email
address. New referrals will go to all groups in the county whose
email addresses are included in the "Local" form.
|4 A Domain name and
Email address may be set up for the group if it doesn't
already have one. This could be based on
an existing or new domain name which we may obtain on behalf
of the group, or a letslink address. Either way, we will manage
the email addresses.
||£10 or £20
p.a. including emails.
|5 An initial web-page
may be set up for the group, incorporating the group's logo,
and a contact form which sends messages direct to the relevant
person/s in the group. This may be developed into a brochure
website incorporating the group's existing documentation, or
where this is lacking, a standard form of constitution and rules
will be provided. The group may be happy
to pause here, and continue with existing systems, until they
are ready to proceed further.
we will quote based on the group's requirements.
|6 Consultation by phone, or at meetings
may be carried out at appropriate points in the process,
the aim of which is to find out how the group does things, identify
any issues, demonstrate the software, and inspire confidence
amongst members that the system will enhance the functioning
of the LETS and/ or to provide individual training to the core
group. The group undertakes to cover all
travel expenses and accommodation in addition to any set fees
depending on length of time needed, and whether travel is involved.
|7 Roles of Core Group members
are analysed to clarify how they will engage with the chosen
online system: this is the basis from which any special requirements
for the software site are derived, and LETSlink will make recommendations
regarding existing roles, or new ones that may be needed. LETSlink
may need access by email and phone to members of the Core Group
individually in order to achieve this analysis, and will in
effect need to become a memer of it.
depending on whether a visit is involved and how much debate
|8 LETSlink sets up and hosts
the software site, making it compatible in appearance with
any existing brochure website, or as a self-contained site.
Either way, it will be customised to the particular requirements
of the group, including the groups documentation if not already
incorporated into a brochure site. The site
may be installed in a hidden space requiring a group password,
or may be partly visible to the public, according to the preference
of the group.
depending on number of non-standard requirements and alterations.
|9 The Group sends their
current data in the form of a spreadsheet exported from
their updated database. This will normally include account number
and contact details for all past and present members, plus join
date, renewal date or date last traded where relevant, and balance
of account. Directory information (Offers
& Wants) will be added by individual members or the Directory
Editor on their behalf once the site is up and running - having
adjusted the directory headings if required.
|10 LETSlink transfers the
Member Data into the database behind the site, and initiates
the Core Group accounts. LETSlink keeps this
data confidential, and will nornally communicate only with the
Core Group. For new groups, the data may be largely derived
from new applications direct to LETSlink UK, who will manage
the initial enrolment procedure on behalf of the group.
depending on quality of the data received.
|11 LETSlink provides training
to Core Group, at the appropriate level so that they may
carry out their particular roles and assist members to access
the site. Once the site is in place, it is
essential that training of Core-Group members and initiating
members takes priority over all other work, to minimise the
period "between systems". For most groups this will
also involve setting up a buddy system (ie one-to-one support
and training) to ensure that all members are included.
depending on length of time needed, and whether travel is involved.
12 LETSlink maintains hosting of the site and
resolves any problems arising with the existing system. Renewal
fees for the site hosting and email addresses are added to
the annual group membership fee. We will update the site periodically
in respect of new developments at our discretion, and give
very favourable rates in respect of new specific features
which may be requested, but will aim at the outside to enable
core group members to add new information to the site independently.
- per annum.
The software we are using is opensource, which means that it is
made available to the community at no cost by enthusiasts who are
motivated by working for the common good. Amongst the LETS community
there were be numbers of people who are interested in software and
can assist not just your own group, but others to go online. If
you are interested in the technical side, we are building up a community
where the information about different types of software can be collated,
and discussed, see: CXSS.INFO.
LETSlink is not just interested in the software, but in building
up a community of understanding about management and political issues.
Because of resource constraints, we can only engage with groups
who are paid-up members - which still only costs £25. We
aim to keep costs low and accessible to groups who have low sterling
income. Groups can use accumulated funds if they have sufficient,
so we have quoted low minimum costs. However if funding is available
we will be able to quote rates which are more compatible with market
Please note that trustees of LETSlink do not receive payments,
other than expenses, eg travel and hosting costs. Any payments requested
for websites relate to work carried out by contractors, and at the
moment are our only source of funding for new start-ups. We are
likely to be using local currency for any work we do within our
own LETS groups.
At the national level, in order to make it fair between groups
who are in different financial circumstances, we will use our own
trading currency "links" to make up shortfalls in sterling
payments, and we hope that a skills base of technical support will
become available to member groups via: www.localexchange.org.uk
Travelling fees to meetings for analysis and training.
Payment for consultations in person, or by phone, or by email.
Design and installation of Brochure site, including Events page,
Enquiry Form, Constitution & Rules, etc.
Customisation of and installation of Software site.
Data transfer into Software site.
Backlog of Membership fees: @£25 per year - this is the cost
most likely to be accounted for in "links".
Recurring costs for existing groups:
Annually: Membership £25, Domain: £10, Emails £10,
Hosting £20 for either or both sites: = £25 to £65.
Where groups have not been able to raise money in advance, or with
new start-ups where there is no existing funding base, we may be
prepared to wait for payment, or to receive an agreed percentage
of annual sterling income, which enables some sharing of income
over different sizes of group, and supports LETSlink UK as an otherwise
MF/mf/ 2009 draft updated March 2015