Web governance - Ask 10 people to define it and you'll get 11 different answers

Many raised handsWeb governance. Such a flexible and malleable term.

Just like the old joke, if you ask 10 different people to describe it, you will get 11 different answers.

  • "It's how we set strategy"
  • "It's how we make decisions"
  • "It's how we manage operations"
  • "It's how we do ... you know ... stuff"

Part of the issue is that for a long time governance was simply a convenient label for just about any operational or leadership problem on a site.

If you had interpersonal issues on your team, governance was all about roles and responsibilities.

If your challenge was establishing high level direction, for you governance concerned strategy and leadership.

Thus, governance has been defined not in any unified way, but as a woolly catch-all for the many disparate elements connected with running a digital service.

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In 2021, those who are best at web will be those who are best at the boring stuff

That's right. Not those who can create the slickest interface or most click-bait-y content.

Engine roomThose who are best will be those who can do all that AND everything else needed to deliver stable operations.

They'll be the ones who can react most quickly to new circumstances, in a repeatable and predictable way - and at the lowest cost.

A well-tuned engine?

Good web management is a means to an end. It puts order and control on operations so you can get on with important things, like online goals.

Good operations are like a well-tuned engine. You take it for granted that when you turn the key, it will just work.

Clunking wrecks

Rather than being graceful machines, many systems of online management are in danger of seizing up.

The reasons are twofold.

First, there has been an historic inattention to the principles of good governance.

Through no fault of their own, many teams are underfunded and left to "make do". Without senior level interest, they have to rely on informal systems of control to get things done.

Second, there has been a huge expansion in digital ambition.

A decade ago the only thing a web team had to worry about was perhaps a single corporate website.

Today even the smallest organization maintains a wide variety of digital presences (including apps, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) aimed at a growing array of devices and each with a large assortment of internal stakeholders clamouring for attention.

Strategic imbalance

The difficulty is that this growth in volume and complexity has not been balanced by a corresponding growth in resources and leadership—causing huge instability.

The scale of demands placed on many teams far outstrips their ability to deliver. There is simply too much to do and not enough to do it with.

Teams are worked so hard and have so little redundancy, that almost any problem can bring things crashing down:

  • Quarrels over online ownership
  • Shortages in skilled manpower or the right tools
  • An inability to coordinate

Yet, despite such issues, web staff remain steadfastly dedicated to the job at hand.

I continue to meet people who go above and beyond the call of duty to keep the show on the road, like working weekends or postponing holidays.

Web people want to do a great job. But just like everyone else they have a legitimate expectation that senior executives will provide the resource needed to get on with things.

The problem for many is that this expectation is ignored.

There are solutions. Explore the Web Manager’s Masterclass.