David Hobbs, senior consultant at Welchman Consulting, interviews his boss, Lisa Welchman, about the discipline known as Web Operations Management and why organizations need it.

DH: Hi Lisa, you and I talk about Web Operations Management all day, but some readers of The Content Wrangler may not be familiar with the term. So, what is Web Operations Management?

imageLW: Web Operations Management (WOM) is a discipline which provides a framework for organizations to effectively manage their Web sites. Currently, organizations manage Web site in all sorts of haphazard ways. This is mostly due to the fact that most Web operations practices grew organically over the last 10 to 15 years. Now, Web sites have become so large and strategically important to organizations that they must better harness and guide their Web development practices. WOM, in particular, touches upon 4 specific areas that are common in business management: Strategy, Governance, Execution and Measurement.

DH: Why should people care about Web Operations Management?

LW: Low quality and poorly managed Web sites expose organizations to various types of risk. Sometimes the risk is associated with loss of revenue or market share, and sometimes it’s a loss of credibility due to outdated or inaccurate content on sites. Other site quality issues may arise from poor Web Operations Management. Sometimes, the risk is just internal resource waste—many organizations have no idea how much they spend on their Web sites.

DH: Who isn’t paying attention to Web Operations Management that should?

LW: C-level executives for the most part are only concerned with the superficial look-and-feel of their sites. They’ve delegated their organization’s approach to WOM to web masters and mid-level managers who might be good executors, but have no idea about the longer-term strategic objectives. The strategy for the use of the Web ought to be the primary driver which guides the more tactical execution—and that strategy ought to spawn from the C-suite.

DH: You recently gave a talk on Web Operations Management and Web 2.0. What were some of the main points of that talk?

LW: Well, I only had one main point. The more collaborative and free you want to be on your public facing Web sites (or intranets, for that matter) the more operational controls and policies you need to have in place in order to ensure quality. While sites like Wikipedia may foster an atmosphere of collaboration, they have one of the most rule-drive publishing environments on the Web—that’s why it works. Business entities need to learn from that.

DH: How does Web 2.0 make Web Operations Management more difficult (as if it wasn’t difficult enough already)?

LW: As I was saying, there’s sort of of a yin yang that goes with Web 2.0. More authors on the Web will necessarily require a more structured and rule-driven web publishing environment. I like to say to folks—the Web is supposed to be fun for the people visiting the Web site, and not necessarily for the folks who run the Web site. It’s time for us Web cowboys to grow up!

DH: What do you think of the Web 2.0 Expo coming to NYC? 

LW: I think it’s great to the the West meet East here in the US. NYC is the seat of good old fashioned business. And, Silicon Valley, the seat of new-fangled technology. Should be an interesting party showcasing the best of both worlds and providing an opportunity for both sides to learn from the other.

DH: Thanks for your time, and, after I come back from the Web 2.0 Expo, I’m sure we’ll have more fodder for discussion about Web 2.0 and Web Operations Management.

For more information on WOM, see Web Operations Management: A Primer

Wom Primer
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