Does your web governance have teeth?

I made a game time decision at J.Boye to attend Christine Pierpoint’s web governance talk over the Future of Web Content Management by Tony Byrne. Hopefully someone is taking notes on Tony’s session.

Most of you probably know of WelchmanPierpoint by now.

Christine and company have been on the front lines advocating for web strategy and governance for years. Fighting the good fight on how the web actually works inside organizations.

Let’s face it, web governance is tough.

It runs counter to existing silos and forces an organization to put the web closer to the center of the business. And from a CMS perspective, it’s essential to get right.

Christine argues “the notion of governance isn’t new, it just hasn’t been applied to the web in most cases.”

So how are organizations approaching web governance today? Christine outlined three status quo scenarios.

I’m guessing some of these will hit close to home.

Scenario 1: The Junior Staff Model
This includes organizations with lots of technical expertise but no authority to create and enforce policy. Governance meetings turn into group complaint sessions and anything the group creates is considered guidance, but isn’t enforced.

Scenario 2: Peace and Love Model
Many organizations run everything by consensus, to a fault. This includes lots of cross department input and a culture where folks are a bit too polite.  These organizations are often afraid or unable to make someone to the decision maker.

Scenario 3: Black Box Model
The black box model allows a small group to make the decisions. Input is limited and participation is gated. Decisions get made, but with no buy-in and a difficulty to enforce across the organization.

So how do you develop a governance structure that has some teeth?

Christine advocates for including the right mix of people and separating out the right groups. This includes separating out folks for policy making, standards setting and content.

Then, work on having clear rules of engagement. She likes to see a charter document that describes how folks are organized and how decisions will be made.

There’s a lot more to cover, but alas, it was only a half hour talk. Sorry to have missed her full workshop yesterday.

Getting this discussion started internally is the first step.  Good stuff Christine.

About the Author
Jeff Cram

Jeff Cram is Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design), a digital agency based in Portland, OR and Boston, MA. As the Managing Editor of the CMS Myth, Jeff is passionate about all topics related to content management, digital strategy and experience design.

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