The Why and How of Web Governance

March 6, 2015
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Every year, brands spend millions of dollars on content management systems to overhaul their digital strategies and create order from the chaos that has resulted from the unprecedented amounts of information they produce. Often they fail to realize that a content management system is only as good as the web governance model supporting it uses. And without a strong one, they end up right back where they started—with powerful technology done in by bad process.

Web governance is an organization’s structure of staff, systems, policies, and procedures for managing its websites. Effective web governance models inspire efficiency, control, and productivity—enabling organizations to be “well-oiled machines” with regard to creating, editing, approving, and publishing digital content. However, few organizations employ a successful web governance model—if they have one at all.

Effective Web Governance

So what makes for great web governance? It’s important to understand that it is not an item on a checklist of tasks your organization needs to accomplish. It isn’t a one-time agenda topic for the weekly staff meeting. Web governance has to be an inherent part of your organization’s DNA. And like your digital strategy, it too must evolve over time.

Effective web governance begins with a well-defined doctrine that identifies key principles and procedures and answers some key questions:

  • What’s the end game—the ideal picture of your organization’s strategy for the web and for web content management?
  • What specific goals do you want to achieve?
  • Why is web governance important for the team, department, and organization?
  • What problems or challenges will it solve?
  • How will success be measured? Based on gains in efficiency? Reduced time-to-market?

Roles and Responsibilities

The next step is to identify key roles and responsibilities, especially around web content management. Who provides content? Who reviews content? Who approves content? Who directly implements content changes? Essentially, who is on the working team that needs to be in sync and in constant communication? Having a chain of custody and command in place will make collaboration seamless.

It’s important to note that adopting web governance may require organizational change—from how teams are managed to how they collaborate. Web governance must be synergistic, but it must empower rather than hinder individuals and teams. Namely, marketing, corporate communications, and web teams must be given greater control throughout the workflow in an effort to move faster. Centralizing control with IT only increases the ever-growing backlog and causes bottlenecks and delays.

Once you have the “who” identified, you need to determine the “when.” Each person or team involved in the process must be held accountable to an SLA that defines their output and associated timelines.

Once people and processes are documented and agreed upon by the working team, get executive support for your web governance strategy. This is crucial because the only way it will be adopted is if it is blessed and backed by those at the top.

Putting Your Strategy Into Action

Finally, the fun part: putting your web governance strategy into action. Sometimes organizations plan but don’t execute. They spend countless hours in meetings planning for it and talking about it, but they don’t actually implement it. In the words of Nike, just do it.

And when you do, make it agile. There are many benefits to web governance, one of which is that it allows you to execute like an editorial team. Create, edit, publish, and share content as fast as a major media company. At first, the fast pace may be intimidating and the process in and of itself may seem tedious. But don’t underestimate its importance for achieving brand consistency, staying relevant to your customers, and transforming as an organization.

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