It seems a little strange in this day and age that an organization may not understand the value that a Web Strategy brings to them. At a time when the web has become such an integral part of any business plan, the web strategy process still seems to be lacking in focus.
J. Boye (news, site), a vendor neutral analyst firm, is offering some support to web managers to get their Web Strategy off the ground and headed in the right direction. Whether you want checklists, steps, a list of deliverables, common pitfalls or just some "been there, done this" real world examples, this report will serve as a good guide.
Best Practices for Creating a Web Strategy was written by Dorthe R. Jespersen and Peter Nissen, analysts for J.Boye. It's not a long read -- only 35 pages -- but it does provide the critical steps necessary to get started on your Web Strategy, including a discussion on whether or not your organization is open to developing strategies at all.
A Quick View of the Contents
Like most best practices guides, this one starts off by explaining what a web strategy is and what makes one good. It also discusses why you need a Web Strategy and how it benefits you, as a web manager, and the organization as a whole.
You will also receive guidance on whether or not a Web Strategy will work in your organization and how you can proceed even without management support -- if you absolutely have to (and sometimes you do).
The meat of the report is focused on best practices for developing the Web Strategy and the deliverables that need to be produced. It ends with a review of six common pitfalls, how to recognize them and what to do to not fall into them.
Best Practices You Can Bank On
There are a lot of important points in this report, some key ones include:
- Prioritizing: One of the advantages of a Web Strategy is that it assists in prioritizing tasks and new features for the website. As you probably know, there are often political battles happening internally over who's functionality or section of a website gets done first. A Strategy can help make this very clear.
- No Support From Management: You can do a Web Strategy without management support, but it is possible to get them on board after the fact. The best way to do this is by chunking up your strategy into phases and convincing key managers of the real business need.
- Establish a Burning Platform: You have to clearly demonstrate that there is an urgent "business need" to improve the website and that you have the ability to meet that need. The consequences of doing nothing must be understood in a way that doesn't require people to be web-savvy. This is said to be the hardest part, but often the shortest phase of your Strategy.
- Don't Be Too Negative: Yes, you are trying to get people to buy into that "burning platform". But keep in mind that being too negative can have the opposite effect you are looking for. Focus on business scenarios that can be supported on not the problems directly.
- Phases Are a Good Thing: Chunk up your Strategy project into phases. Address only one part of the burning platform at a time, making communication easier and success come faster.
- Document, Document, Document: Really, this is a given, but many do think they understand the issues best and don't need to go to the users to understand their issues and needs. Big mistake.
- Do Not Develop a Strategy in a Vacuum: A Web Strategy must align with the Business needs, not run separately alongside it. It is supposed to be a piece of a greater strategy, so be sure you have aligned it with the organizations overall strategy (or some associated strategy) and goals.
- Get Decision Makers: You need these guys and gals to fight the political battles and keep things moving forward.
- Deliverables: Keep them short, make them readable, be visionary and tangible, include success criteria and don't forget the roadmap.
- It's Not About the Technology: If you find yourself diving into details and technical solutions, you aren't writing a Web Strategy. Time to back up and re-focus on the business needs.
- Read the Six Pitfalls to Avoid: Guaranteed you will find yourself slipping into at least one of these before your Web Strategy has been defined.
What's good about this research report is that J. Boye interviewed a number of web managers from global organizations on how they did things, gleaming best practices and pitfalls to avoid, in addition to getting information from conferences and their 250 member Community of Practice. The report has a number of quotes direct from web managers who have implemented, successfully and unsuccessfully, a web strategy.