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Website Governance Convergence: When Web Work Worlds Collide

by Robert Jacoby (February 5, 2015)

Have you experienced this?

You're working on a large website migration project for a client. They're asking about multiple work (functional) areas, each one of which you need to be managing concurrently. (Everything needs to happen now, at once, right?) It might be training new users in the CMS (and figuring out who should be trained); or trying to assess content development workflow processes outside the CMS (and how to get them into the CMS); or supporting activities like developing a content strategy.

You're talking through all these issues with the client, maybe even drawing all the interacting areas of work out on a whiteboard—how training impacts your strategies (content and business); how “outside CMS workflow” impacts what you’re hoping to build for “inside CMS workflow,” and how that affects training; how documentation needs to be revised to reflect some new reality; and what new organizational reality (change management) is being planned and needs to be communicated?—and suddenly it hits you: There are a lot of governance areas that are converging here; and these governance areas are converging fast.

If only there were a handy way to illustrate (for yourself, your colleagues, and your client) individual website governance areas and how they’re impacting and interacting with other areas around them….

Functional Work Areas Drive Website Governance Issues

I introduced the Website Governance Modeling Tool in a May 2012 article in CMSWire, “Website Governance: New Modeling Tool Puts You in Charge,” showing how the Tool helps users analyze, map, and explain website governance work for any size site. At the time I was working as a Web content manager for a large federal agency website (, now

The Website Governance Modeling Tool Case Study

Fast forward to today, and the things I’ve learned over the past year in my new position working on another large and very different federal agency website are informing how I think about and work with website governance issues.

Using our scenario above—different website governance areas fast converging—I started to work the Tool, first removing all of the website governance work areas except the ones on which we wanted to focus, then adding detail to those areas remaining. This was a way for us to use a common language, gain new insights into our project’s challenges, and share all of our ideas around complex and interacting website governance areas. To show how CMS user roles and workflows would impact training (who would get trained? and for what?); and also how workflow outside the CMS needed to be brought into the CMS (with clearly defined user roles and workflows); and how documentation should be created to support newly defined CMS functions; and how the client’s business model was changing and how that needed to be communicated….

Once we had all of the pieces of the puzzle before us, we were able to develop a document tailored to the needs of our client. This included:

  • a website governance convergence map (simplified for the figure shown) to illustrate relationships and interactions between and among governance areas
  • discussions of the defined website governance areas, related governance areas, and unique challenges (such as interactivities and interdependencies)
  • strategies for goals and solutions, and measuring outcomes
  • draft work plans

Illustrating the enterprise-wide website governance areas in this way helped make real the risks, assumptions, issues, and dependencies for our project. They were, literally, staring us in the face.

The Website Governance Modeling Tool Retooled

I’ve made some tweaks to the Tool to enhance it for your—and your organization’s or your client’s—use and benefit.

First, I’ve added a new block space for Documentation. Here I’ve included such things as a Web style guide, templates, user manuals, and tracking sheets. Any SOP you can codify, you should. Working with large teams on large websites is challenging enough; don’t make it more difficult by not having policies and processes around website governance and management documented.

Second, I’ve revised text in the Content block to include workflows both inside and outside a CMS. This is an important distinction to make, I’ve learned, because either or both may have serious impacts on other governance areas.

Third, I’ve added a “Note on Use” to the tool. As a reminder, for myself and others, that the tool should serve a specific need by helping to provide practical solutions.

The revised tool is available now.