How to Handle Web Governance With a Small Team

howard-web governance with small team August 16, 2023 By: Kim Howard, CAE

In many ways your website is your organization’s calling card, so it needs your care and attention. Though it can be a challenge for organizations, having an effective web strategy can help. The EMDR International Association shares how it redesigned its website by taking an intentional approach to its web governance policy.

Ah, the website. It’s the first stop for potential members and the one place where everyone on staff wants a piece of real estate. What does a good communications professional do? How do you manage all the departmental requests to ensure they align with the organization’s mission while providing the information you all need to share is there?

At the EMDR International Association, we redesigned our Gold Circle award-winning website in spring 2020 with the help of our outside partner, Yoko Co. After the redesign, we wanted to ensure the new website did not become a mishmash of colors, fonts, text sizes, and random information. We wanted a website strategy, but more critically, we wanted a website governance policy.

RACI Matrix

Thanks to Yoko Co.’s recommendation, we instituted the RACI Matrix for governing our website content. Our website is decentralized, so our 14 staff members have backend access. This approach currently works for our team.

RACI stands for:

  • Responsible. People who do the work. They complete the task or make the decision. A team can be jointly liable.
  • Accountable. People who “own” the work and must sign off when the work is complete. One person should be accountable. The buck stops here.
  • Consulted. Stakeholders who need to give input before the work can be done and approve the work.
  • Informed. Stakeholders who need to be kept updated but do not need to be formally consulted, nor do they contribute directly to the task or decision.

These are the roles that stakeholders might play in your project. And your website is an ongoing project.

Assigning Roles

Even though all our staff have backend access to the website, a smaller core team manages the website pages regularly.

Yoko Co. manages our complex website issues, such as our Find an EMDR Therapist Directory not functioning correctly, designing our custom posts for our magazine or resource library, or reinstalling our blog when I accidentally deleted it (yes, the entire blog).

If your team doesn’t outsource your website work, hire a web expert who can do the backend developer work but also knows about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Educate staff about how to use your website platform to do basic web maintenance: updating content, adding a page, removing a page, etc.

Our director of information systems and support manages all our platforms and lends a hand when the non-tech-savvy staff members bungle something on the website. So, the website pages and their content are the responsibility of the rest of the core team.

Your Assignment Is …

Deciding who gets assigned what in your RACI matrix can be daunting, but not impossible. The team must cull down who needs to be involved and the stakeholder’s role. I recommend performing this task with the team to ensure buy-in and accurate assignments. This approach also helps manage expectations.

Here are some parameters to keep in mind:

  1. List all project stakeholders in your RACI matrix. These are the team members who will be involved in the work.
  2. Ensure every task has at least one stakeholder responsible for it.
  3. No task should have more than one person accountable for it.
  4. Do you have too many Rs—people responsible—assigned to one stakeholder? Don’t overload one staff member with too many tasks. If you find that some staff members are overloaded, but no one else can step in, prioritize their workload so that they can get the work done well, on time, and within budget.
  5. Don’t leave cells blank. Are you over-assigning your stakeholder to too many tasks? Should their role change from responsible to consulted or from consulted to informed? Discuss moving staff members from responsible to consulted or from consulted to informed. Don’t over assign staff roles if they don’t need to be involved at that level.
  6. Try to avoid too many “in charge” stakeholders when what happens is that no one is “in charge.”
  7. Do you have buy-in from each stakeholder in their role?

Website Standards

Define policies and procedures for adding new web pages, new content, and proofreading. Your standards should include your association style guide with everything from which fonts to use, to color schemes, the style guides for copy, how your logo should be used, the writing style approach, and more.

Website Ownership

Who on staff is considered the owner of the website content and backend performance? Your core team should consist of someone on the communications team, your backend web technical expert, and the subject matter expert(s) who will create or review any technical information related to your members’ areas of expertise.

Ultimately, creating a governance plan for your website will avoid miscommunication, internal turf wars, and less headaches for staff.

Kim Howard, CAE

Kim Howard, CAE, is director of communications and marketing for the EMDR International Association.