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Posted by Lisa Welchman March 24, 2015

3 Steps to Establish a Digital Governance Center of Excellence

More than 20 years into the adoption of the Web channel, many organizations are striving to establish a center of excellence around digital governance. A Digital Governance Center of Excellence would focus on establishing and supporting an organization’s strategic objectives by acting in partnership with executives to establish an appropriate digital strategy and by ensuring that such a strategy is effectively and consistently implemented throughout the organization. More tactically, the center would serve as a hub that would establish organizational digital standards and policies and help support collaboration and development of the full digital team.

Once put into place, the Center of Excellence will ensure the promotion of ongoing digital quality and effectiveness for the organization.

Stepping stones to a digital governance center of excellence

There are three major stepping stones for establishing a Digital Governance Center of Excellence:

  1. Establishing a digital governance framework
  2. Emplacing the framework and establishing your digital community of practice
  3. Filling policy and standards gaps

These steps can be engaged over a period of months in an organization, depending on the urgency and availability of resources.

Step One: Establish a digital governance framework

A digital governance framework establishes accountability, roles and decision-making authority for an organization’s digital presence. That means its websites, mobile sites, social channels, and any other Internet and web-enabled products and services. Having a well-designed digital governance framework minimizes the number of digital team tactical debates that arise regarding the nature and management of an organization’s digital presence. It also creates a positive environment for collaboration, knowledge sharing, training and alignment. A good digital governance framework will also provide guidance for implementation and recommendations for fostering support and advocacy by executive and senior-level organizational stakeholders.

Step Two: Emplace the framework and establish your digital community of practice (CoP)

Once senior leaders have approved a digital governance framework, it needs to be implemented and the community of digital stakeholders must be brought into alignment. You may need to engage middle management and senior leaders to engage and position your framework to be formally announced to the organization at large. For more hands-on digital stakeholders, regularly scheduled CoP meetings provide a forum to:

  • Discuss internal digital development news or policy, standards and strategy shifts that impact the organization’s digital and digital works.
  • Share information and initiatives from various aspects of the organization that aren’t “in charge.”
  • Gather input and requirements for standards and policy definition.

Organizations should establish a charter and mission, determine membership and establish a repeatable agenda structure for these meetings.

Step Three: Fill policy and standards gaps

Once the framework is emplaced and the community established, an organization is poised to address any necessary policy and standards gaps.

Policy gaps

Organizational representatives who understand and can assess risks and business objectives and who have an understanding of laws and regulations that govern the industry should form the basis of a policy development group. This group should:

  • Guide, implement and call for refinement of digital policies based on perceived risk, regulation, or strategic opportunities.
  • Drive valid community consensus around policies.
  • Not override consensus on what the policy should be.

Standards gaps

Subject matter experts on a particular digital aspect create standards, which differ from policies in that they provide tactical rules on how something should be executed on the Web. As a best practice the organization should:

  • Bring together cross-organizational staff members to form standards groups and inform them about standards.
  • Train staff on what makes a standard and how to successfully manage standards through their lifecycle.
  • Draft the standards in hands-on collaborative workshops.

Ongoing management

Once established, a Digital Center of Excellence will become an integral part of your organization. It serves as a one-stop shop for all things digital, from tactical, hands-on standard concerns to strategic digital strategy.

The Digital Center of Excellence also provides the organization with training, best practices, and tactical solutions to help individuals and web teams deliver an excellent customer experience. Oftentimes, the Digital Center of Excellence can provide mentorship and collaborates with external entities to help web teams create effective digital platforms, improve web and mobile usability, and develop engagement opportunities that enhance the customer experience, accelerate adoption, and achieve efficiencies across the organization’s offerings.

It can also play an important role in selection of marketing technology such as web content management systems, where web and mobile customer experiences must be managed and delivered in adherence with the organization’s digital governance principles.

Lisa is the leading advocate for digital governance and author of the popular new book, Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design