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Three Challenges for 2011-2012

  1. The Intranet will be a challenging and important project — not only because of the technology involved but also the political and spiritual wins at stake.
  2. Develop and document a single, unified practice that combines Project Management, Application Development and Usability Analysis that can be performed by one person in an efficient and effective way. I want a process that consistently yields quality results but is stil light-weight and speedy.
  3. Elevating what we do from tech support and coding to real-world problem-solving that results in useful, usable, enjoyable AND SUSTAINABLE solutions.
  4. Continue to explore and exploit the possibilities of the iPad, Google Apps, FileMaker Go and WordPress.

Major Accomplishments 2010-2011

Client/Server Database Systems, Web-Based Database Systems

Updating of Current Solutions

Provide Website Consultation

Connectivity to Existing University Enterprise Data Warehouse System

Other Duties As Assigned

Other Initiatives

  • Half-way toward Certification as a Usability Analyst
  • Teaching myself WordPress and how to use it as a CMS

Performance Review: Part I

1. Work with OIP IT Manager to analyze, implement, and document system solutions including:  client/server database systems, web-based database systems, UofM-provided technology tools, and others (55%)

Last year I wrote:

Though I have no shining examples of a complete web initiative based on the new templates, I've been laying a solid foundation for rapid development in the near future.

Indeed. I hit my stride in my second year. I completed several projects that featured both a robust FileMaker client back-end and a slick web front end. To list a few:

  • Orientation Registration: This project both improved the user experience for our students and erased hours of busy-work performed by EA staff.
  • Support Tickets: A real game changer for how IT serves the units. While quality service had been there all along, this project brought a new level of accountability and transparency to the relationship.
  • Confucius Institute Online Catalog: This project provided an opportunity to build a solution for the public not just staff. We created a simple online shopping cart and integrated it with the existing database.
  • WIV Tracking: This tiny two-page website forced us to add Central Authentication, file uploads, and complex data validations to our skill set.

2. Updating of current solutions (15%)

A few victories, more to come. I recently completed LCTL for CARLA and Lib Ed for LAC. Both solutions existed before with the same functionality but relied on outdated technology (CDML in the case of LCTL and IWP in the case of Lib Ed). Updating old technologies will be a priority in the coming year.

3. Provide website consultation and complete project work relating to website management and/or development for OIP units (15%)

Competed, though perhaps not in the way we intended. I think we anticipated I would assist units in updating their websites. We were never asked and instead the units relied on their own expertise. One exception is LAC, which until recently wasn't on a sure footing with regard to ownership and direction.

As an achievement in this category I would point to the research and documentation I did for CARLA. I posted it online in order to serve the entire FileMaker community. There are nearly 30 articles with supporting sample files that document how to build a custom solution with FileMaker and PHP. It serves as a getting-started guide for CARLA and a reference for me. I continue to add, correct and expand the articles based on user feedback.

4. Work with OIP IT Manager to establish and maintain connectivity to existing University enterprise data warehouse system (10%)

Great developments and exciting potential for the coming year. For the sake of two projects — Orientation Registration and DW Connect — we struck a connection to the Data Warehouse. My inchoate queries succeed in pulling data but they're inelegant and inefficient. The challenge ahead is to expand the range of fields we pull and do it in a single pass.

5. Perform other duties as assigned (5%)

The mother of all "other duties as assigned" was stepping into the Peoplesoft project to collect and prep historical data for upload. All-consuming for a month or more, my contribution kept the project on track, ensured data was as accurate as possible and lightened the load on OIT.

Performance Review: Part II

Your objectives for development on the job and/or career development (e.g., training you would like to receive, new responsibilities you might like to try, etc.)

I want to continue working through the backlog of projects. I'm looking forward to my class later this month. The exposure to Usability and Information Architecture may spark an interest in a career focus.

Is there anything more your supervisor might do to help you? (e.g., provide more frequent feedback, consider reorganizing the work, etc.)

I feel I get all the support and guidance I need to be successful in my job.

Bonus Question: What else do you want to add?

  • I'm happy with the training and career development opportunities at the University and grateful to have support from Christopher to pursue my interests.
  • I'm proud of starting, with Elleni, a FileMaker User Group. I'm disappointed in myself for not studying to get my FileMaker Certification.
  • I'm satisfied with the progress I've made toward bringing a project management rigor to my work. Nailing requirements with a written Statement of Work means I'm delivering closer to expectations. Using this blog to communicate is engaging stakeholders. Concluding projects with a Close-Out meeting is building confidence and good will.

Professional Dev: Networking

Career Development: Looking inward, looking outward, going forward.

Top 3 things important to me in making a job change.

  • career development - a promotional path
  • salary and benefits
  • nature of the work

Positions with grant funding can be unstable. Keep informed where the money and grants are flowing. Do I say it? Follow the money.

Think about how you stand out in a field where there are lots with the same qualifications. HR people prefer referred resumes rather than unknown.

Note to self:

  • What's the tag cloud of my resume look like?
  • Update my professional development entry.

People want to be able to help you. Let them know how. People are flattered to be asked to give an informational interview. People love to talk about themselves and give advice.

Networking Examples

  • Attend seminars or workshops hosted by the department
  • Subscribe to and read department newsletters.
  • Join associations.


Hi, my name is Sonja Froyen. So and so suggested I contact you because I'm interested in bla and you have a lot of experience in bla.

Currently I'm working in the Office of International Programs as a FileMaker, PHP and web developer with a dash of project management. I've been working in FileMaker since version 2 and have kept up my skills as the software moved to the web. I recently completed a mini masters in Project Management from the University of St Thomas and since then, bring a project management rigor to all my projects.

My strengths as a developer are not simply knowing the tools really well, which I do. It's pulling them together in ways that not only satisfy the business objectives but delight the end user. I'm easy to work with, always looking for ways to improve, curious about new technologies, and a stickler for details and deadlines.

I would love to learn more about opportunities at ______ and how someone with my skills may fit in.

30 Second Infomercial:

Hi, I'm Soni. I'm a geek. I build database and web solutions that users actually like! I'm schooled in project management, easy to work with and constantly expanding my skills.

Three things I will do to expand my network.

  1. Attend MinneBar on Saturday and make a point of meeting people.
  2. Explore getting a minor in Sustainability by getting department materials.
  3. Connect to people on LinkedIn.


I read the University State of Emergency: Human Resources Implications of Pandemic Influenza. These are the responsibilities of the employee:

  • Provides department with current emergency contact information, and updates it on an on-going basis.
    To whom do I provide this info?
  • Discusses alternative work arrangements such as working from home or another location in case of a State of Emergency with the responsible administrator supervisor.
    I can work remotely. I have my own laptop loaded with many of the same applications. I can check email, voicemail and connect securely to the servers and network. I would not be able to connect to user computers because I do not have my own copy of Apple Remote Desktop. Nor would I be able to process Contribute updates and make them live on the website because I do not have my own copy of Contribute.
    The nature of my work is well-suited to working remotely. I can load my computer with all the raw materials and crank away.
  • Contacts department to determine need to report for work.
    Just tell me who to contact and with what frequency.
  • If approved by the department, reports for work when able and appropriate, whether on campus, at home, or at another location.
  • If unable to report to work, updates department of condition or whereabouts as soon as possible.
  • Communicates specific requests and needs to department.

Contingency Planning for H1N1

| 1 Comment

"Stay home if you are sick" is the number one directive from the University in dealing with the H1N1 flu virus. Then, "stay home until you have been fever-free for 24 hours." Even if you don't catch the flu, perhaps your child will. Even if you and your children don't get sick, your child's school or day-care center may close. The chance that you will need to stay home at some point during this flu season is extremely high.

What does this mean for the OIP? It says to me a lot of people will be working from home. Doing your job remotely on a different computer doesn't always go smoothly. How can a 3-person technology department deal with an increase in support calls on computers we don't support?

Prevent the Spread

  • Put Purell bottles where people share computers. (LAC Resource Center, Confucius Institute Resource Center, student worker computers on Heller 2, Heller 6 and Dean's Office)
  • Encourage technology staff to use remote technology (Terminal, Apple Remote Desktop, iChat screen sharing) to trouble-shoot computers.
  • Encourage all employees to use the phone or internet (Skype, iChat, GoogleTalk) to communicate with co-workers.
  • Allocate space and resources for a quarantine where infected employees can work.

Plan for Absenteeism

  • Find out the typical absentee rate during the flu season and model for an escalating rate of absenteeism.
  • Identify critical and non-critical job functions then focus on the critical ones.
  • Have each employee prepare an individual contingency plan for how they would do their job remotely.
  • Identify resources employees need and how those resources will be allocated. (We only have so many laptops to lend. Who gets priority?)
  • Tell employees about the tools they need to work remotely (VPN Client, Remote Desktop Client, Skype).
  • Train employees to work remotely (connect to servers, check email, forward their voicemail, start a video chat).
  • Plan for a different kind of stress on the network. Do we need more computers to accept RDC connections?

Other Concerns

  • What about FERPA? If employees are working outside the network, they cannot email unencrypted private data!
  • We need to make clear we cannot support employee's home computers.
  • Read these guidelines for businesses on the CDC website.

Resumé Spring 2009

FileMaker developer with strong web and project management skills. Demonstrated ability to bring creative solutions to complex requirements. Can define projects, build consensus, communicate with stakeholders and deliver solid products that are popular with users.

Information Technology Specialist, University of Minnesota [2008-Present]
Create and support existing FileMaker solutions for the Office of International Programs.

  • Developed popular solutions that may be sold to other institutions
  • Founded campus-wide FileMaker User Group

Web Application Developer and AdDept Liaison, Macy's North Marketing [2005-2008]
Responsible for creation and maintenance of web and database applications. Primary query and report builder 
for AS400-based financial system. Liaison among users, system administrators and third-party developer.

Buyer Turn In

  • Designed, built, and launched advertising strategy and inventory-management system
  • Conducted training sessions for hundreds of users
  • Reduced shortage by implementing barcode tagging system
  • Increased efficiency by streamlining creative process


  • Developed easy-to-use application for managing projects, teams, deadlines and correspondence
  • Enhanced solution with charts, calendars, reports and personalized project lists
  • Advanced business knowledge and empowered individuals and managers to plan and balance workload

Marketing Intranet Site

  • Introduced secure, wiki-like intranet site with news, events, classifieds, polls, birthdays and blogs
  • Promoted a sense of community among remote employees
  • Provided a platform for management to reinforce department's mission and focus

Freelance Database Developer [1999-2005]
Created custom solutions for businesses, non-profits and schools. Managed multiple clients, budgets and deadlines.

  • Demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit by launching and marketing my own business
  • Improvised solutions for clients with small budgets and aging equipment

B.A. Latin and History; Saint Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota
Mini Masters in Project Management; St. Thomas University, Minneapolis, Minnesota

FileMaker Pro, PHP, XHTML, Excel, AS400, project tracking and diagramming applications

FileMaker User Group for University of Minnesota, co-founder
Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (
Twin Cities Social Media Breakfast (

Keywords: problem-solver, innovative, collaborative, analytical, creative, detail-oriented

Job Description

  1. Code, test, and implement web initiatives and solutions in coordination with office systems plans. Work with the OIP IT Manager to plan, test and implement database solutions for both client-server and web application. (40%)
  2. Though I have no shining examples of a complete web initiative based on the new templates, I've been laying a solid foundation for rapid development in the near future.
  3. Research, test, and implement new technologies that will aid in functionality of the LAC website. (20%)
  4. The new technology I'm working on is a database backend to the website. We're still in the research and planning phases. I've launched other initiatives intended to aid in functionality that aren't so much new technologies as scrubbing what we've got. I'm cleaning up the code, the rewriting the css, updating the information architecture, improving the navigation and bringing order to the back-end.
  5. Perform project work, website updates, internal consulting, server administration and staff training on web-related technologies. (15%)
  6. I have several small web projects completed with more on the way. Along with Jeremy, I trained staff on Contribute. I'm demonstrating how to use blogs to collaborate.
  7. Work singularly and with staff to determine functional specifications for additions and/or enhancements to reports or web sites. (15%)
  8. I've been working hard to bring a project management methodology to my work. Most projects now begin with written statements of work, including functional specifications.
  9. Document solutions and position procedures. (5%)
  10. Many solutions are launched with a companion online help system. I'm also working on new process flows for getting content on the website.
  11. Assist in various administrative duties and other learning abroad projects. (5%)
  12. I'm willing to pitch in wherever I'm needed.

Performance Review

| 1 Comment
Update your resume and make note of any changes to your job description over the past year.

I updated my resume. There were several changes in the past year. My position changed from contract to permanent. I've taken over web responsibilities from the departing Terry. Just last week, I learned my position will move to OIP from LAC, expanding my customer base so-to-speak. I'm looking forward to meeting staff from, learning about, and completing projects for the other OIP departments.

List your main accomplishments for the past year.
  • Learned about my department, the Learning Abroad Center, OIP and the University; beginning to understand my job and how to work here
  • Authored a style manual for FileMaker programming
  • Built a template for rapid FileMaker development
  • Developing a project management approach to technology projects; created a project tracking database that supports the methodology
  • Completed several projects including the Confucius Institute Lending Library, the Incident Abroad Database (with online training materials), and the Curriculum Integration database (including online event registration form)
  • Along with Jeremy, wrote and conducted Contribute training for staff; configured each workstation after upgrade
List your professional goals for next year.
  • Continue to develop databases and web solutions that improve productivity
  • Complete the Searchable Program Database project
  • Get my Business Writing Certificate
  • Get my FileMaker 10 Certification
  • Along with Elleni, start and grow a FileMaker User Group on campus
  • Build and deploy an intranet
  • Conduct a UThink blogging workshop for interested LAC staff
  • Attend a Myers Briggs or similar workshop to better understand my working style and how to work with others
What I need?