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Masterclass for Web Managers, incl. editable templates ($29.99)

A clear indicator of this is the huge growth in tools to support online operations and decision making - from QA to site auditing to analytics and more.

(Read more in the article "Why weaponizing web tools improves decision making")

But if these tools are so useful - why does adoption seem so slow?

Our own worst enemy

The problem is that historically digital managers have been very poor at making the case for investment.

We digerati are so flexible that rather than looking for justified increases in funding, we simply find ever more creative ways to make do with what we've got.

The inevitable result is that the work keeps piling on, making a bad situation worse

For example, web governance vendor Sitemorse has shown that old legacy content accounts for over 30% of quality issues on many websites, eg broken links, missing elements, etc.

Sitemorse logoFor an organisation that has grown a lot and been through several CMS migrations, this adds up to a huge content bucket that needs sorting out.

And responses like we have never had any adverse reports simply denies the impact that poor quality can have on SEO, task completions, user satisfaction and more.

It's time to stop making excuses. It's time to get better at making a business case for investment in digital governance.

It's not just what you do. It's how you do it

The main benefit of good governance is stability.

That is, when you get it right you can take it (mostly) for granted that things will go as planned - with the right people doing the right things at the right time.

This shift from what you do to how you do it is already clear in organisations like

The effort they put into supporting teams easily matches the quality of the services they create for the public.

This shows that digital transformation will be driven as much by investment in operations as by investment in online experience.

Highlight benefits & expose risks

But knowing that you deserve more cash and actually getting it are two separate things.

Merely complaining about your workload is unlikely to get you very far.

What you need to do is highlight the benefits that new systems can bring, as well as expose the risks of avoidance.

For example - using the most simple of web tools - I was recently able to show a mid-scale organisation that although it's web operations saved it €250k+ in printing last year, thousands of calls & emails were generated by out-of-date content.

This helped build a case for investing in digital capability.

The narrative

A good place to start is to build a narrative about how investment can contribute to the bottom line, including:

Saving staff time & improving productivity

By removing the need for laborious and time-intensive activity (link checking, spell checking), new web tools allow staff to be allocated to higher-value tasks.

Improving decision making & resource allocation

By automating data-gathering and improving insight about performance you can make more targeted allocations of limited budget.

Repairing instabilities in operations

By giving your team the insight they need, things can happen more quickly, with greater certainty and better outcomes.

Enhancing staff skills & value

By training staff in new tools, the overall value of your people will increase because these new tools represent the new normal of digital governance.

Of course, there is always the chance that such benefits will be ignored, perhaps in a misguided effort to keep costs down.

The sad fact is that many management teams only take web operations seriously following a major incident - like a security hack - that results in a public humiliation.

They then discover that this breakdown was not a bug but a feature of a governance system that is so under-resourced and so lacking in necessary tools that catastrophe was inevitable.

The embarrassment this creates usually prompts some type of funding, if only to avoid a repeat incident.

Never let a good crisis go to waste

Yet, the truth is that many management teams only take this issue seriously following an incident, like some embarrassing, old content that suddenly resurfaces on Twitter.

The discomfort this creates usually prompts some type of funding, if only to avoid a repeat incident.

Naturally, it would be better to get investment without need for a calamity. But as the old saying goes, never let a good crisis go to waste.

Anyway embarrassment has a curious way of making people sit up and take notice.

As such, it can be useful to actually draw attention to such risks and connect them with a shortfall in investment. This includes:

Risk to reputation

Manually intensive tasks (combined with limited staff availability) mean that in the event of absence or illness, important activities cannot be completed. As a result, embarrassing, inaccurate and out-of-date content remains online.

Risk to opportunity

The absence of data provided by automated tools will undermine decision making and cause your organisation to achieve fewer direct savings, fewer indirect productivity gains and cause much slower responses to user needs.

Risk to business continuity

Manually intensive activities that depend on staff attention to detail will result in site breakdowns from time-to-time. In addition, lack of automation means that repair will take much longer than otherwise and distract from core activity.

Risk to business ambition & staff morale

An inability to deliver minimum standards in the face of growing demands will undermine business ambition & web staff morale.

Pursuit of pleasure & avoidance of pain

So we see that these twin motivators of pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain can go a long way to bringing people on board.

And best part is that - compared to other types of technology - many of the tools of digital management are low in cost or even free.

Nevertheless, it could still take a long time for a complete understanding of the need for change to get through. In the meantime all you can do is keep plugging away ... and if it seems you are getting no where, just recall the long standing advice about communications used by politicians.

Once you know what you want, say it clearly.

Then say it again.

And then say it again.

And then again.

And then again and again.

And then again and again and again and again.

And then again and again and again and again and again and again.

And then by the time you are absolutely sick of saying it, your audience is hearing it for the first time.

A photo of Shane Diffily

About Shane Diffily

I am an experienced commentator on web operations. In 2015, I released the web's first online training course in website management and governance. Back in 2006 I published the Website Manager's Handbook, the original guide to online operations.

Find out more about me or download slides from my recent conference talks.