Thursday, January 19, 2006

Strategic Planning Is Common Sense

Good web managers spend time every week thinking about their strategies. The Internet changes every day, and you have to be re-evaluating all the pieces, all the possibilities, all the priorities constantly and be ready to make changes.

Strategic planning isn't rocket science. It’s common sense. A good web management plan has 4 major parts:

  • Content
  • Technology/delivery systems
  • Organization
  • Management

Content: Planning web content has to be number one in the strategic plan. It drives everything else you do. What do people want when they come to your site? Do you know? Do they get it? What can you do to connect the dots - within the agency; among federal programs; and among federal, state, and local programs? How can you create continuums – present logical sequences of tasks, events, and information? How can you “package the goods,” anticipating what the reader wants and what they may need next. Where are the voids in your content, and what can you do fill those voids? What could you do to create opportunities for citizens to be involved in their government (government of and by the people - not just for the people)? How can you control the content, to make sure good content doesn't get overwhelmed by "junk?" What can you do to clean up, consolidate, prune, improve the writing on your site? How can you improve customer service?

Technology/delivery systems: Look at the way your customers use your content, both now and in the future; and be prepared to deliver it to them in as many ways as they want. If you're investing in a content management system, find one capable of feeding all forms of content delivery: Internet, intranet, kiosks, PDAs, call centers, faxes, and new technologies that may come down the pike. Think ahead. And be sure to make use of current technologies in new ways: real time chats, virtual teams, intelligent searches, knowledge bases, etc.

Organization: How do you need to be organized to manage your website and achieve your goals? As web capabilities and customer needs change, the organization needs to adapt. What knowledges, skills, and abilities do you need to be successful, and what is the most efficient and effective way to add those KSAs to your organization? Do you need additional full-time content management positions? Do you need training programs? Do you need new or different contract support? Do you need to do something new to improve your customer service through marketing, outreach, usability, e-mail? Staff resources don't grow on trees, so are there people in the agency that you could enlist to help you, without creating new jobs?

Management: What are your goals and objectives for managing the web, and how are you measuring their achievement? How are you ensuring that your organization gets appropriate return on investment? Do you have adequate management controls over your web content and management? This is so important. How do control who posts? How do you make sure content is current? How do you ensure quality of your product?

Make sure your strategic plan addresses each of these four areas. Do reality checks regularly. Don’t be afraid to make changes – even radical changes – when new information or new capabilities present themselves. Above all – make sure everyone in your agency knows what your plans are, so they’re on the same page and can work with you toward achievement of your plan.

Strategic planning isn't rocket science. Just use common sense. George Bernard Shaw said, "Common sense is instinct…enough of it is genius.” Apply your common sense to your strategic plan, and you’ll look like a genius!

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