So – you invested in some great CMS software like Sitecore, had design made, trained editors, administrators and developers, implemented your first web site(s), went live and – now what?
Are you clear on what you want to do with it, where you are going forward, why you are doing the things you are doing and in general, what does the future look like for your web site?
Many organizations make it through their first project or projects with great vision and energy and often with good results, but after that things tend to fade out, “the job is done” and innovation tends to slow down drastically.
Without proper web governance, chances are that your web solution doesn’t follow a clear course, that your activities are somewhat random, that the web site doesn’t perform as expected and that it doesn’t keep up with the ever-changing needs from your customers and ultimately you will not get the full potential of your investments and risk falling behind your competition.
While all clients and solutions are (somewhat) different, there are also a lot of things they have in common. Below you will find some of the main web governance activities XCentium typically help our customers with to regain control over the web and stay ahead of the competition.
Be aware that none of these activities are really specific to a particular system or technology, but many of them benefit significantly from being based on a high quality foundation such as Sitecore or other highly capable platforms with the right tools to support the governance.
The web strategy must specify what your purpose and goal for web activities are. It should be clearly defined what the web site(s) should accomplish, when this should be accomplished and why.
The strategy will provide the overall guidelines for all other governance
The roadmap should cover at least 12 months into the future and preferably up to 24 months to give a clear picture of the projects and other activities that are planned or expected regarding your web properties.
The roadmap will help you prioritize projects and activities, assign or book relevant resources ahead of time allow for scheduling new projects while knowing the consequences for other planned projects.
The roadmap should outline all known or expected projects with assumed start dates and duration. Each project should also have general priority information to help guide prioritization.
The architecture for the main solution as well as future projects should be clearly defined so it is known to all actors what the “outer frames” for a project are. This is very important for your whole organization, as new projects will be much easier to execute and with far better results, if they fall within a solid overall architecture.
If a stable base architecture is not followed, the overall Sitecore solution is at risk for being built from a number of one-off projects, which reduces the possibility of reusing code and other components and eventually will make solution maintenance and upgrading difficult and very time consuming
For a large and complex solution with many different interest groups it is essential that a number of fundamental workflows are defined and used across the solution to support the intended work processes for managing sites and content.
Typically 2-5 base workflows will cover the needs for most organizations and these fundamental workflows can then be modified to match special requirements if needed.
For constantly growing and changing web solutions it is important to define and maintain a set of solid programming standards to ensure consistency in both current and future development.
Programming standards, and the enforcement of these, will result in a more stable and homogenous code base, it will make it much easier for new or occasional developers to get quickly up to speed producing quality solutions and it will make maintenance much simpler and effective since all code follow the same standards
In larger solutions there is typically great potential for implementing reusable components that can be utilized in multiple projects. While the first time implementation of a component will typically be slightly more time consuming that implementing for just one specific project, the longer term benefits are more efficient development, easier maintenance and a simpler and better performing overall solution.
Components typically don’t just appear on their own, but require planning and insight in the overall strategies for the solution, as the solution architecture and future goals must be taken into account so a reusability strategy is essential to identify which components are necessary and how they should be made reusable.
To make sure all web projects are executed smoothly, a clearly defined project organization should be established so all actors and interest groups are known together with their responsibilities for the project.
It should be clearly defined who is responsible for e.g. requirements, facilitating the process, delivering design, development, QA, hosting and deploying the web solutions.
While all projects are slightly different, even though they belong to the same organization and overall solution, it is important that the organization for the individual project is specified based on the general project organization document.
A modern web solution has many different interest groups and actors and it is important to be aware who are involved and which responsibilities the individual actors have. This naturally follows the project organization, but is targeted towards the time after the solution is initially deployed.
The solution organization as a whole will cover many different aspects and among the most significant are management, maintenance, editing, monitoring and determine future requirements and development.
One of the key factors for successful web projects is to have a well-defined process in place, to identify which activities are necessary, in which order they occur, which dependencies there are between activities and in which order activities must be carried out.
A solid process will help guide all actors safely through the projects, make sure the necessary decisions are made at the right time by the right people and ensure that the necessary assets are in place for the individual phases.
The correct QA strategy will ensure that the project’s individual components as well as the project as a whole is tested and validated to meet the quality requirements the organizations defines for the web projects.
The QA strategy will include the definitions of overall quality goals, main QA process approaches and general acceptance criteria for components as well as projects.
The strategy needs to be closely integrated with the project process so QA is a natural part through the process from inception to delivery.
UX / design / style guides
This or these guides will assist all design and development related actors stay in line with the overall company design decisions and guidelines
The guides will not only assist the web designers following the company standards, but also the developers as well as external parties.