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In Lesson-5 of the Web Governance Masterclass, you can learn how to measure the performance of any online management system by tracking 3 broad indicators. These are:
- Online: This category represents your ability to meet the minimum needs of site visitors and includes things like content quality, usability, accessibility, etc.
- Operational: Indicators in this category show how well you can meet the needs of internal customers/stakeholders. They encompass such things as quality of communications, cost overruns, project turnaround times, etc.
- Organisational: These indicators stand for your ability to meet the requirements of the enterprise overall - where growing staff turnover or heightened business risk could be suggestive of management imbalance.
These indicators measure the features of web operations and delivery that are most susceptible to error.
As such, whenever an instability occurs, these indicators can signal where things have gone wrong and what to fix. Overtime, they provide the evidence you need to build a business case for digital management transformation.
And yet even with such evidence, senior managers are often incredibly slow to act.
Part of the reason is that there is so little advice about the web governance and management systems that work best, that the risks of getting it "wrong" can far outweigh the benefits of even trying.
The result is prevarication, delay and (eventually) complete breakdown.
The good news is that recent years have revealed examples of organisations that have finally begun to master online management and governance.
3 critical factors for successful web management
At its core, these have shown that success depends overwhelmingly on just 3 Critical Factors. In Lesson-4 of the Masterclass these are revealed as:
- Clarity of vision: Vision ensures that you (and everyone else) knows for certain how ownership, leadership and authority will work.
- Balanced operations: Balancing operations means that everyone has access to the resources needed to expedite their online burden.
- Commitment: A firm and unyielding commitment to making things happen, not only makes change inevitable - but preferable.
To see how this work, download the Masterclass to follow the story of Mom-n-Pop's Diner - a small restaurant business that grows into a regional giant - to see how it copes as it online operations expand.
The expansion in content, regional sites, an online ordering service, a mobile-specific site, a specialist ordering app, a Facebook presence, Twitter, YouTube, etc. - made things far too complex and time-consuming for one person alone.
It was agreed that Junior could hire some additional specialists to help out. This included a UX designer, some writers and an analytics guy.
The increased headcount meant Junior could step back from the minutiae of day-to-day admin and take on more of a strategic role. In addition, being freed of responsibility for technical issues allowed extra time to be spent on the user experience and improving content.
So far so good. But sadly, any benefits were short-lived.
Too much, too soon
The constant ambition of Mom-n-Pop to do more online soon soaked up any slack in Junior's team.
In fact, all the internal publicity about "remodelled web processes" only seemed to entice the business to demand more.
Before long Junior found himself back where he started; snowed under with requests for new features of ever greater complexity - but with one cruel twist.
Despite all the effort put into planning a smooth transition, the status of his new relationships with the IT Dept and new regional managers in Mom-n-Pop had never really been pinned down.
For instance, Junior found he had to often plead with IT to secure a bare minimum of coding support, as well as intervene in arguments between regional managers and his staff over who does what.
Despite all the money that had been spent on new staff and technology, it was clear that the real challenge of defining ownership and control had been largely ignored.
With little or no interest from above, Mom-n-Pop soon started to display the classic symptoms of governance dysfunction. For example:
- Ill-defined web authority, causing continual arguments over ownership
- Poor interdepartmental relationships leading to development delays
- Undocumented processes creating tension among staff and confusion over outcomes
- Inadequate leadership that leaves web operations out on a limb
- And a constantly growing gap between the demands of the business to do more and availability of resourcing to respond
What a mess!
In fairness to Junior as soon as he recognised these problems, he started to lobby senior management to restore order - in particular to clarify ownership, leadership and authority.
The difficulty was that after the retirement of his mom and dad (the eponymous founders of Mom-and-Pop), no one really cared enough to listen.
As far as the new executive team was concerned everything was going great!
They had a nice looking website, some cool apps and a busy Twitter feed. And besides it was only web! It's not like a problem in online could cause any real damage.
Never let a good crisis go to waste
The ultimate trigger for change was an incident whereby a regional manager with CMS access accidentally published Mom-n-Pop's innovative new menu three months early.
This mistake was quickly picked up on Twitter and shared hundreds of times.
Thankfully the resulting reputational damage was limited as most fans were simply excited by the new recipes.
However it badly undermined a costly marketing campaign that had planned for the new year and gave competitors plenty of time to react.
The post mortem conducted by senior management revealed that (notwithstanding human error) there was very little Junior could have done to prevent the incident occurring.
There was simply too much going on of too great a complexity for the Web Team to cope. This disaster was not a bug. It was a feature of a critically unstable system of online governance.
Failure had been designed-in.
And the executive team could not dodge responsibility. By ignoring Junior's legitimate requests for early intervention, they were ultimately responsible.
The next question was how to turn things around. If failure can be designed-in, it could also be designed-out.
Read more practical advice....
About Shane Diffily
I am an experienced commentator on web operations. In 2015, I released the web's first online training course in website management and governance. Back in 2006 I published the Website Manager's Handbook, the original guide to online operations.