Web task management is about managing your website around common tasks. Success is measured on the completion of these tasks.What is different about web task management? Traditional website management
focuses on managing the technology and/or the content. Such website management approaches are generally project-based.
Under traditional web management models, for example, launching a search engine for the website is a project. Once that search engine is launched, nobody is made responsible and there are no quality measures for success. The search engine
is simply left there.
Equally, there are various projects concerned with putting up content on websites. The focus is on getting the content up as quickly and simply as possible. This sort of approach is particularly found when new content management software is being installed. Transferring lots of content to the website becomes a big project.
These management approaches fail because they manage and measure the wrong things. If you manage purely from a technology point of view, then the technology itself becomes the focus.
Organizations have often bought overly complicated content management software
because of the belief that if you buy the 'right' software, you solve the problem. Only passing attention was given to what customers wanted to do on the website. The tool itself became the focus.
It is an equally bad idea to manage from a content point of view. Communicators love to communicate. An intranet or public website can seem like a nirvana for the avid communicator. Vast quantities of content get published, not because of a clearly defined need, but from a 'have gigabytes must fill' mentality.
The fatal flaw in managing from a technology or a content perspective is the management metrics these approaches deliver. If you manage from a technology perspective, then the metrics are nearly always volume-based. It's about the number of documents that are published, or the number of searches that are carried out.
Managing from a content perspective is even more volume-based. When I hear many senior managers talk about their websites, I am surprised that they are still quoting the utterly useless measure, HITS. (HITS stands for "How Idiots Track Success.")
Why is this? Well, many years back, probably at the beginning of the Dot Com boom, there was a request from the CEO's office for something to say about the website at some conference. The web team pored over the website log data and saw this wonderful metric called HITS. And why was HITS so wonderful? Because it was a very big number.
And so began an obsession with volume. The more volume the more success. HITS may have taken a back seat in many web metric models today, but page impressions/views, as well as repeat and unique visitors, are certainly thrown around with gusto.
This approach to measuring a website's success will surely end in tears. For a mature website, measuring the increase in page impressions is as likely to reflect the failure, not success, of the website.
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.