E-Commerce is a Correctional Industries Program

E-Commerce is a Correctional Industries Program

In the rapidly changing e-commerce market there are three important factors in the assessment for developing a web site. Colorado Correctional Industries Web Design has found flexibility, functionality and portability to be essential for survival. CCi’s Web site is developed and maintained by a Web design team of inmates and a CCi supervisor with input from the CCi marketing staff. Development and testing are conducted on a local server located in the Web design shop at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Crowley, Colorado. Content is thoroughly tested inside and uploaded to the World Wide Web by a CCi Supervisor.

A view of the Offender Workload Report. Authorized CCi personnel have the ability to access ADA report directly from the CCi website and enter information pertinent to their program. Information is sortable and printable.

Flexibility is a must for any e-business planning to withstand the test of time. New technologies arrive every day and claim to be the solution for everything. Unfortunately, not-so-old technologies fade into oblivion and are promptly forgotten by those not depending on them. We have been an on-line presence for a decade and a half now and have had to remain flexible and open-minded to change. This allows us to not only provide electronic services to our customers, but also to our own employees. CCi’s e-procurement provides service to more than 500 government agencies, as well as over 2,100 registered customers. We receive over 50,000 independent hits a month to our web site, with our on-line sales at over $1.9 million a year and growing by leaps and bounds.

Should our customers require follow-up after the sale, customer service requests are submitted on-line by our customers and a reporting system for these orders is tracked on our web site. Over the last three years 1,506 customer service requests have been submitted, responded to and tracked. Our organization’s diversity encompasses 22 individual industries from 12 separate facilities. The ever increasing requests for mandatory reports and web site updates requires our organization to be flexible and has prompted the CCi Web Design team to develop a personalized electronic reporting and updating web site program accessible to authorized staff . This includes authorized CCi staff having access for American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation reporting, as well as being able to create reports for inmate Average Daily Attendance. CCi staff also have the capability to upload current web data and graphics.

Functionality is the ability to offer the customer extended services that meet their demanding needs. This is extremely important as most correctional industries offer a diverse array of products and services from different locations where on-line orders can be split between multiple shops. It is vital that the foundation of the Web site be solid and functional. We accomplish this with extensive specialized scripting at the client and server side, thus reducing the load time and increasing productivity. Our team of programmers use open source, eliminating the need for specific software, which provided us with the stability that we require in a demanding market. In layman’s terms, what does this actually mean to the customer? It’s a Web site that provides quick adaptability, an electronic catalog that is easily customizable to our customers’ requests, and the ability to feel confident with e-procurement. It works … it is user friendly … it answers their needs. It equates to functionality for the customer.

View of CCi home web page. Information on organization, customer service, contact us, services and products available (e-catalog) is available. The entire website was created and is maintained by the CCi Web Design team.

 

Portability is the final important factor we wish to highlight concerning correctional industries’ specific Web needs. Growth, policy changes and new contracts continually plague a correctional industries Web presence. As a correctional industry with an on-line presence for many years, we have had to migrate several times. Platform independence, open source coding and W3C (World Wide Web consortium) compliancy has made these transitions effortless. CCi provides up-to-date hardware, training materials and programs to assist the offender web design team in discovering great designs that withstand these tests of time. Our recent expansion in the multi-media arena is three dimensional product representations, and DVD marketing aids created and produced by our offender web team.

 


The challenges our correctional industry has faced in the world of e-commerce have proven beneficial to our organization, offenders and customers. Our flexibility, functionality and portability have allowed us to inform our customers on an immediate basis of the benefits and capabilities of CCi. E-commerce has offered an avenue in which to grow product sales and services; thus increasing our revenues. Technology is an ever-changing world and it is our responsibility to continue to grow with it. It is also our responsibility to provide an opportunity to allow offenders to better their world. The CCi Web Design program provides that chance. The knowledge they gain in computer language, web page development and graphic design will assist them when returning to society. For now, their knowledge and skills gained through the program are true indications of how open our e-world is….visit our inmate designed web site at www.coloradoci.com. All inmates working within the CCi Web Design program have NO access to the World Wide Web. All work is accomplished and tested in-house through an intranet. All access to the outside World Wide Web is through CCi personnel only.

For additional information, please contact Sandy Gray, CCi Webmaster at
sandra.gray@doc.state.co.us or 719-267-5142