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It’s not a job for Public Affairs or IT, but who’s got a Web Management Department?

I think we all recognize that successful web strategies cannot be achieved by technology alone. But we also need to realized that they cannot be achieved by the Public Affairs team and that they will not be brought about by the IT department. Although these efforts often get placed in one or the other of these departments.

Public Affairs and IT are two very necessary, and equally important, parts of any organization – however what we need is the person (or dept) to unite the efforts and responsibilities of each in order to make them most effective on the web. This person or department is charged with understanding the goals and limitations of both public affairs and IT, to unify their purposes and strategies – with neither taking precedence over the other. This is a huge job, but it’s a necessary one.

Components of Web Management:

–Identify key themes and messages, recommended topics – from search analytics, web analytics, web conversations (both on an off your site), from mgmt goals, etc.
–Define content purpose (i.e., how content will bridge the space between audience needs and business requirements)
–Perform content gap analysis,
–Define metadata frameworks and related content attributes
–Manage site search – internal and external (SEO) – make content findable
–Manage IA – make content findable
–Manage organizational content not on the organizations web site (e.g. twitter, facebook, etc.)
–Define, support and enforce rules of content creation, publication and governance on the organization’s web site and externally.

I’m sure that all of these activities take place at all organizations (at least to some degree) – but do they happen in the same office? If they do, I’d love to hear more about it. Especially if any of you have web management offices that oversee all other offices (including public affairs and IT)?

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Jeffrey Levy

At EPA, we don’t have a single place, but we do have two well-defined places. Within Public Affairs, I’m the Director of the Office of Web Communications. And within our CIO’s office, there’s one Branch that we work with.

Together, we cover everything in your list, either directly or by working with EPA’s Web Council and broader Web community. I’m also pretty savvy about the IT side, and my counterpart is pretty savvy about content and meeting visitors’ needs.

If we were ever to reorganize into a single Web Mgt Office, these would be the two groups going into it.

Andrew Krzmarzick

Hi Jami – I wonder if Web Manager University over at GSA would have some insight as to any Federal agencies that have a web management office. Of course, if anyone would know that they exist, it’s Jeffrey (highly active in the Federal Web Manager Council). So if he didn’t mention any, then you may have to create the model! They may be interested in helping you though…either Jeffrey or I could connect you to folks over there.

Jami Haskell Ansell

Andrew – thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been looking over there a little. Haven’t found anything so far, but I’ll keep looking. Or maybe I’ll start writing… 😉 Thanks!

Scott Horvath

At USGS, at least for the bureau-level site (www.usgs.gov), we have our “Internal and Web Team” within the Communications Office. Our team is small though. Our degrees of “web savyness” vary as well. Some people are editors with solid web experience and understanding. Some are strictly internal focused writers/planners. Two of us, including myself, are the developers. I’m the lead developer, but my educational background is Communications…and I have over 12 years of experience in development. Many of the people on our team also have a range of graphic development skills.

So, although our team is small, we do what we can to cross-train enough to understand each others’ responsibilities, requirements, and roles. We also perform as backups for each other depending on the situation. Additionally, we interface with the IT and Legal sides of the organization. We act as the liaisons between the Communications/IT/Legal offices and the rest of the employees in matters related to Web (internally and externally). We have a big job and high expectations. It’s not easy, but surprisingly enjoyable.

Unless you’ve got millions dollar web budgets and your a very centralized “Web Help Desk” then you need to do what you can to get the job done. Fortunately, I’ve worked in both centralized and decentralized web teams in organizations (both Government and private sector) so I have a lot of experience with how things are run, and don’t run, when it comes to web groups.