Getting Senior Management Engaged in the Web

    July 16, 2004

The extent of senior management involvement in the Web is a clear indication of the value of the Web to your organization. If your senior management currently don’t recognize the importance of the Web, then it is vital that they are educated as to its value.

To effectively educate senior management will probably take some time, and that’s a reason you need a five year plan for your website. The very fact you have a five year plan will likely impress senior management, as they generally like to see a long-term vision.

Don’t assume any level of expertise with your senior managers. These are really smart people who have achieved positions of power through expertise and hard work. However, they are generally older people and may have missed out on much of the computer revolution.

Sometimes they may be even embarrassed to admit that they hardly ever use the Web. Perhaps you should offer some discreet, one-on-one presentations so that you can familiarize them with the Web’s potential, and particularly the most practical features on your website.

It’s essential that you ensure that these managers are educated in the basics of web value. Otherwise they can cause you a lot of grief. I’ve seen web strategies based on casual conversations on golf courses. I’ve seen a board meeting get animated over what color the navigation should be, as they totally ignored the actual content on the page.

When you get to talk with a senior manager, avoid any line of reasoning that implies that more investment is required. Don’t focus on how big the website is because that may make the manager wonder about all the time that is being spent running such a large website.

Talk about value. Focus on something that the website does very well that has created real value for the organization. The value created needs to be as specific as possible. Show how your up-to-date staff directory is saving time, about how the support section is getting less calls because people are finding the information they need on the Web. This is how you get more budget: by showing you have already created value, and that with extra budget you can create even more value.

Occasionally, you can use fear as a driver. Even in the most decentralized organization, management doesn’t want it to seem they have lost control. Many organizations now have multiple websites that are often publishing contradictory content. I know, for example, one organization that has 40 different versions of its logo on its various websites. Gently letting management know that such disorganization could prove embarrassing if the media decided to do a negative story, can get their attention.

It’s important to isolate a champion within senior management and propose to them the establishment of a web strategy group. This group should meet about four times a year and discuss how the Web can deliver more value to the organization.

As with everything else, the best way to get people onboard is to make them look good (or stop them looking bad). If you can’t get the attention of senior management, that may be because the Web is not very important to your organization. If that is the case, then don’t overreach; don’t build a big website that has lots of volume and little value. Because one day someone in senior management will pay attention and wonder why they are spending so much money to get so little in return.

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern

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