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

When you drill right down to it, everything to do with web management can be reduced to just 3 elements. These are:

  1. Activities: The things you do
  2. Resources: The things you need
  3. Scale: A metric that predicts how the components above take shape

It may seem surprising that 3 elements can accommodate all the detail of online operations - but as a conceptual model, it works. The first step is to quantify the magnitude of your management burden.


Scale is a measure of the size, technical complexity and levels of engagement of a site and can give an immediate estimate of your operational load.

In short, as each of these dimensions grow, your web management activities expand in both volume and granularity. The activities of web management can categorised into 4 broad groups:

  • Leadership
  • Development
  • Maintenance
  • Infrastructure

To cope with an increase in operational activity, investment in web resources is needed to keep the show on the road. These resources include:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Tools
  • Budget

The greater the operational load, the more costly and specialised the resources will become.

(Read a full description of the activities, resources and scale of web management.)

How website scale can be used to plan Web Governance

The good thing about this model is that it can be applied to any type of website or intranet. The core activities and resources stay the same—the only thing that changes is the underlying scale of the operation.

When you think about it, this type of model makes sense.

A nation of shop keepers

By way of analogy, consider management in a different domain—say, the bricks-and-mortar world of retail.

A shopkeeper in Shahr-e Ray. Credit to Kamyar Adl on Flickr

Both a huge international discounter and a Mom-n-Pop corner store both need to carry out the same types of activity to keep things going. That is:

  • Planning stock
  • Packing shelves
  • Taking returns
  • Managing tills, etc.

They also rely on the same categories of resource to make it all happen:

  • Skilled staff
  • Tools and software, e.g. till software
  • Processes, e.g. for re-ordering stock
  • A cash-at-hand budget to keep things running day-to-day

The only difference is the difference in scale between the two. But what a difference it makes!

While 1 guy with an abacus can probably do everything needed to run a corner store—the very same activities become much more complex and require massive resource investment for a big retailer.

It's the same for web.

A web of shop keepers

Imagine our 2 retailers move online (we are still in a pandemic after all).

Mom-n-Pop opens a simple website—just a dozen or so pages of brochureware content. Because it is aimed at their local community, it is not very busy and is mainly used to publicise opening hours and special offers.

In contrast, MegaStore runs a huge site and several social networking presences. The website contains thousands of pages of sophisticated, interactive content and attracts tens of thousands of visitors per month.

While the high-level activities and resources needed to run both websites are the same, the management burden differs enormously—and this can be predicted based on the Scale of each operation.

For Mom-n-Pop, the size, technical complexity and levels of engagement of their site is very low.

This means we can predict that the operational load will also be low, and so very few resources will be needed for upkeep. Indeed, their management can be as straightforward as asking their son to update the site using a few freeware tools each weekend. Easy.

Meanwhile, MegaStore maxes out on all dimensions of scale (included additional dimensions of geographic spread, multi-language, strategic ambition and more).

This means they will experience very large volumes of highly granular activity. And this allows us to predict they will need a very sophisticated sophisticated resourcing model to cope, including lots of highly skilled people, structured teams, documented/auditable processes, specialised tools, etc.

A framework for web management and governance

So, now you see why I put these 3 elements—activities, resources and scale—at the core of framework I use for planning online control.

The framework allows you to recognise and (more importantly) actually predict the type of management and governance you will need for your website, based on just a few factors

Of course, the framework cannot tell you exactly how many people to hire or precisely what skills are best for you—there are some nuances only you can capture.

But it does give you very clear roadmap of what to expect as you grow in scale—and how your online management needs to adapt.

Download the Web Manager's Masterclass to learn more about the framework for web management and governance. Includes 8 lessons, 4 videos, editable templates and a free copy of The Web Manager's Handbook.

(Image credit: A shopkeeper in Shahr-e Ray. Kamyar Adl on Flickr.)