By Ronan Doyle, Head of Communications and Public Engagement, Dóchas, member of Forus in Ireland 

The main objective of the Dóchas Website development project was “To strengthen our online ‘Knowledge and learning hub’ for our members in order to improve dialogue between the Dóchas secretariat and its members.” Today, this objective has been realised. The Dóchas website is now up and running and our members are very happy with the end product. 

But to arrive at this point we had to be prepared for the challenges, where a pause was necessary because of either external factors or for internal reflection to ensure we were still on track to deliver what was promised. Below are some of the most significant of those moments on this journey. 

Losing key staff is always challenging for an organisation, this issue is even more acute in a small organisation such as Dóchas. This happened not long after the website project got the official go ahead and funding from Forus was finalised. The project had to be put on hold until a replacement staff member came on board. Once this happened in November 2019, the project resumed.  

However, it quickly became apparent thaa modification in the project was needed. It was obvious that it could not just be a case of “revising the Dóchas website” but that a new Content Management System and a new look was necessary. Therefore, a decision was taken to update and refresh the brand colours of the whole organisation before the web-build could even start.  

And then COVID-19 hit.  While it brought immense challenges to everyone, Dóchas included, it also presented opportunities to the organisation. Being forced solely into the online space meant that our new website was more relevant than ever as a way of reaching out to our members and keeping them informed.    

It also meant that we had to re-look at how we were going to deliver another key area of this project, which was our livestreaming capabilitiesPrior to the pandemic, experience in this area for the team was minimal. However, by summer 2020 we had built up our expertise and we were in a much better position to make more informed decisions around our livestreaming options for when we do return to that sphere (This topic was discussed in detail in our first article for Forus as part of this project. It was entitled Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Jumping into the online space, ready or not.) 

With the support of Forus’ capacity-building support projectDóchas has been able to improve our online capabilities and presence and in doing so help our members. We had a clear aim in sight and we set out a number of objectives that would lead us to this aim. However, what we also had was flexibility. In an ever-changing environment a good plan cannot be achieved by aims and objectives alone. It must be accompanied by an ability to bend, swivel and pivot where necessary, but keep the end point in sight. This was a key factor in the delivery of this important project. 

The new Dóchas website can be viewed here.