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Gilbane SF: Fundamentals of Web Operations Management

This year's Gilbane SF started with a day of pre-conference workshops. In one of them — Managing the Web: The Fundamentals of Web Operations Management — Lisa Welchman, founding partner of WelchmanPierpoint, discussed the challenges faced by today's web teams.

"Web managers tend to have the world wide web on their shoulders," said Welchman, emphasizing the enormity of complexities that go into web operations management. If web operations management is not done right, one of the outcomes is poor web experience, resulting in lost revenue. But there are ways to make your web operations efficient and successful.

Trends We See in Web Management

Executive management is disengaged from web. Lack of senior leadership and direction from the C suite is what makes the job of web managers hard to do.

The organization should own its web. Organizations need to have clear, strategic decision-making authority over web.

Many organizations often don't know (and have no clue how to measure) whether their web presence is effective.

Web Operations Management (WOM)

According to Welchman, WOM consists of the following components:

  • Web strategy
  • Web measurement
  • Web execution
  • Web governance

Web Strategy

Web strategy is used to translate org. objectives and values into management directives for the web. The two artifacts of a successful web strategy are: guiding principles and formalization of authority.

You need to have guiding principles down and you need to formalize authority, said Welchman, in order to be successful. One of the goals of the guiding principles is to articulate high-level business objectives.

Formalization of authority enables governance and execution. People who set policies need to be a different kind of expert.

Peers fight, but the C-level authority fuels execution, or as Welchman said, "The stuff doesn't get done, if it doesn't come from the C suite." Welchman warned, though, about the C-level folk, "You want them to be engaged, but not too engaged."

The more effective web teams are those that aggregated IT and communication into one team. Alternatively, if they're segregated, they communicate well and this makes them successful. They need to be in the same group, as they work on the same web product.

Web Governance

Web governance is about authoritative structures setting policies and standards for your web products. "Web strategy is the piece that hasn't happened, it's silly it hasn't happened." It is not hard to write a set of guiding principles and say this is the web team and we're gonna have some policies around our web product, pointed out Welchman.

"It's a travesty that web strategy is so messed up." If you don't have a web strategy it's a problem, but without web governance you have even more problems.

Artifacts of sound governance include policy, standards and governance framework. When there's no governance, you see very angry and frustrated (or, obliviously happy) web teams.

Web Execution

Web execution should be focused around coordination of tactical web teams with a goal of creating high-quality web presence for your organization.

As Welchman noted, it is very important to think carefully about who exactly should be on your web team and what their accountability is.

Web Measurement

What do you measure to find out whether or not you're successful? There isn't anything in an organization that doesn't improve if it can be measured. Measuring your web presence for quality, risk and performance is crucial. Being able to quantify your web is really important.

Web measurement can help you understand if the web is meeting strategic goals set by your management, and whether the dollars are spent right. "You don't just get to spend company's money… How much money is put in the web is really a business decision…" noted Welchman.

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