Wednesday, 26 September 2012

People & strategy over technology

Reading a brief  and spot-on post by Paul Boag (Invest in people and not just technology) set me off reflecting on our situation at the University of Edinburgh. I also did a bit of digging deeper into articles on web governance and how if organisations are really going to have online reputations that match where they are offline, organisationally things really need to change.

Invest in people and not just technology - blog post by Paul Boag

Hear hear Paul. While our corporate content management system has its fair share of detractors and gripers (and fair enough - I have to use it too, not just train and support!) when we surveyed our users, the support and community element of our work was pretty much universally valued.

So while Paul is talking about core web teams staffed with professionals who are web full timers, my focus has always been on the majority of University web publishers - the non-specialists with little time and limited authority and influence. In my view, helping them do the best job they can has been the key factor in raising the standard of the University website. While a CMS is undoubtably essential, it's nothing if the people aren't empowered to do a good job with it. So my view is the same as Paul's - investing in people brings the real results, ahead of the technology.

But this approach is just making the best of a not-very-good situation. We'd be so much more effective online supporting the business if there were more people with more time and therefore able to develop better skills.

Again, Paul Boag has some ideas in his post suggesting ways in which we get senior management to recognise the problem with how their websites are being managed.

I recommend everyone takes a look at his difficult questions in the following article, and comes up with a list of their own.

Web strategy: Dealing with management - blog post by Paul Boag

And some related articles:

Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change - article by Jonathan Kahn for A List Apart

Web Operations Management Primer - Welschman Pierpoint article

How to build a successful Web Team - blog post by  Shane Diffily  (thanks to @beesman for the tip off)

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