Most organizations consider their website to be critical yet web teams rarely have respect, power or resources. Here's how to change that.
You change how your website is seen within your organization by changing how you measure it. Up until now most websites are measured based on inputs (content, technology, traffic). To measure real value you must focus on outputs. What does the intranet help employees do? What does the website helps customers do?
Web teams are sitting on a goldmine but they're managing and measuring as if they had a clapped out coalmine. According to a McKinsey report, "From 2004 to 2009, the Internet's contribution to GDP in mature countries averaged about 20%." That's quite astonishing. Really. We really are talking about the engine of the future.
So why do a great deal of web teams lack power, respect and resources? Why are a great number of people who create content for websites the most junior employees the organization can find? Two reasons.
The Web is still relatively new. Most managers are not trained in web management. They're an older generation. They see the Web all around them but still don't allocate nearly enough time to thinking strategically about it.
Secondly, most managers who want to get more involved don't know how to. They don't have the right metrics. Talk to a typical manager about technology and their eyes glaze over or they get scared. I once talked to a senior government official and he told me that whenever the word "technology" came up in meetings his colleagues' first impulse was to crawl underneath the table.
These managers felt bullied by the techies with all their fast-talking, fancy jargon. And invariably the deliverable was a way over-budget, way past deadline, unusable system. But they were afraid to show their ignorance so they just kept signing off on the budgets. That attitude is changing. Managers today are much less cowed by the technology complexity sell.
Senior managers in particular have no respect for content. They see it as a low level commodity and I see no sign of them developing respect anytime soon. Content is strategic but it is not a strategy. Content is critical to the success of any website but it is not something to communicate to management. They don't care about content. To them it's nothing more than a cost.
We have to communicate value. You've installed SharePoint. Big deal. You haven't created any value. In fact, you might end up destroying value. You've bought Google search. Big deal. You've achieved nothing. You're now on Twitter and YouTube. So what? No value creation. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.
You've a 10,000 page website and you're adding another 200 pages every month. That's not an achievement. That's a tragedy. Until we move away from measuring the inputs we have no hope of either achieving value or communicating it. As web professionals we have to earn respect in the rough and tumble of organizational politics. Respect follows value and value must be measured based on what our customers do on our websites.
Don't measure the technology. Don't measure the content. Measure the use. That's where the true value of any website lies.
Related Reading: 3 Key Elements of Task Based Website Management