Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Web Manager Certification

Web Manager University has come a long way since we dreamed it up, more than a year ago. As I skimmed the course list for the fall semester, it occurred to me that there are consistent themes – courses that come up nearly every semester: “Writing for the Web,” something on usability, something on metrics, something on governance or training, and something about current or coming web technologies. So I wonder…could we come up with a list of courses that all government web managers should take? Is it time to come up with a web manager certification program? Is it time to institutionalize this job – governmentwide – and develop standards that define what this job is?

Think about it. Certification could do a number of very good things. Probably the most obvious advantage is that it would enhance your credibility, both within your own agency and within the web manager community. It says “this person has taken a core set of courses that give him/her a well-rounded grasp of government web management.” It says, “this person cared enough about the work to take this series of courses.” It says, “this person is ready to move on to greater responsibility.” Bosses love to say, “my employee is certified.” Even if the courses don’t increase your knowledge or skills (and it’s hard to imagine that you won’t walk away with something you can use), the certification will bolster your bosses’ perceptions of you.

But there are other good reasons that a web manager certification program could be beneficial.

1. In designing a basic curriculum, the web manager community will have to come to agreement on a set of KSAs (knowledges, skills and abilities) that all web managers should have. Those KSAs could be used if and when OPM ever classifies a web manager series. It could give web managers some input into their destiny.
2. Everyone can learn something by taking courses. It’s good for all of us to get out of the office now and then and to sit down with a group of our peers to listen and learn. Even experienced web managers who may be fairly expert in a subject area undoubtedly will get tips and tricks from their colleagues that they can use. I was a web manager for 10 years, but I learned something new from my peers every time I sat down with a group of them.
3. It will create a cadre of government employees that agencies can tap into, when vacancies occur. Wouldn’t you feel more confident hiring someone who has completed a basic web management curriculum? I know I would.
4. It will strengthen the web manager community. Web managers will get to know other web managers; and when you know someone, you are more likely to exchange ideas and successes and lessons learned with him/her. The more we share across agencies, the better we all become.
5. It will raise awareness of the fact that being a web manager is not the same as being a public affairs specialist or computer technology specialist or writer/editor. It is a complex job unlike any other, and it is not a job that just anyone can do. There IS a specific body of knowledge that you must have to be successful. Those of you who struggle to get your bosses to understand what you do might find that a certification program could be an eye-opener.

So I wonder…is this an idea whose time has come? You have the vehicle – Web Manager University. The question is: are you ready for the challenge?

Related links

Why Don't Web Managers Have Their Own Job Series?

Contracting Out Web Manager Duties

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Hi Candi - I'm a Web Content Manager at a small liberal arts college, and I ran across this entry while doing a Google search on "web manager certification." Even though the Web Manager University site you linked to is geared towards government site managers, it looks like I will be able to learn a lot from it. Thanks for this!