Lisa Welchman's keynote speech on Web 2.0 and Web Operations Management was one of the top five sessions of Web Content 2008 (according to evaluation forms). Her message was simple, yet profound: you can’t do anything cool on the Web if you lack mature Web Operations Management practices. These practices can be divided into four categories: strategy, governance, execution and measurement.

Practice 1: Strategy

According to Lisa, strategy refers to the visionary direction from senior management and is directly related to the strategic mission and goals of the organization. This vision and mission is what should guide the tactical execution of web products.

Practice 2: Governance

Governance, Lisa emphasized, is really “the crux of everything.” What she means by governance is having an appropriate framework for making decisions, and policies and standards that dictate who’s responsible for what. Although the idea of governance is rather anti-Web, it greatly increases the efficiency and effectiveness of any Web-related efforts.

Practice 3: Execution

The main problem with execution that Lisa identified is that people see tasks as individual projects instead of considering the bigger picture product. For example, updating the website’s look and adding a new feature are too often seen as separate projects instead of constituent parts of the same product -- the website.

Practice 4: Measurement

Lastly, it is important to tie website metrics back to strategic business metrics in order to have a better idea of how exactly the website is serving the mission and goals of the company. Just looking at the number of visits alone is not going to be very useful. Too sum it all up, Lisa said, “You can’t get soft, gooey, collaborative stuff on the top without some serious Web infrastructure.” I thought Lisa’s wealth of experience working with many government agencies that have massive websites not only gave her credibility, but also really helped to illustrate the points that she made. And while I felt the speech was more what upper level executives needed to hear, talking to one of the conference goers revealed otherwise. He pointed out that precisely because so many companies lack strategy and governance with regards to their website, a lot of the decision making does in fact end up on the shoulders of the marketing and technology professionals at the conference. Lisa’s speech spoke to many of their pain points and provided a sense of validation for how they feel. The solution? “Educate up,” Lisa said. It’s definitely easier said than done and requires a certain amount of skill, but Lisa addressed everyone’s concern by saying that they had to educate their bosses by “telling them what to tell you.” While I see the value in “educating up,” I also foresee that it will be a long and hard process for many.