When you are working on a business website or online programme, how do you establish a successful framework for sustained success in terms of who will be responsible for ongoing activity?There are two main ways you might want to do this; have a dedicated person or a team of people, dependent on the size of your organisation, who is responsible for all aspects of online activity; or you can allocate out discrete portions of the work to different people across all areas of the organisation.
The first approach might be an initial step, where you have a step change to make as an organisation or where a big new project needs to be launched. You can have someone be the expert, evangelist or champion who can create a centre of excellence for the work that needs to be done, establish some successes and set the pace for ongoing change.
Issues with this approach include the risk of that person being seen as totally responsible for the failure of any activity (though plenty colleagues would be quick to claim its success), and a siloing of activity that means an isolation of the activity – if the ‘expert’ is dealing with it, no-one else needs to.
The second approach can work well in a larger company where several people in different departments take on part of responsibility for online – marketing might be responsible for website content, PR for promotion, customer services for online service, and so on. This can be a great way of breaking down silos and introducing cross-discipline teamwork, minimising the suspicion or distruct of a new team being set amongst many others. Often a painful issue with this approach is whether people across different departments can be focused on a single set of objectives, given differing pressures and priorities from contrasting directions.
The most successful approach can be to form an initial central team who can be focused on early wins and win confidence across the company, at the same time sharing successes and being focused on a single direction. Once some traction is gained, the central team can redistributed back across the company, which will reinforce that team spirit and extend it right across departments that need to own online activity.
This approach certainly worked best for me, when I ran a European online editorial team for a US company. There were editors in each country who came together on a regular basis to share ideas and processes that were working well for them, and to raise issues that were common across a range of countries. Once the teamwork was good and the knowledge and education was high, the editors were absorbed back into their local countries where they then went on to educate colleagues and expand the awareness and ability to address online issues across the company.
Admittedly this was a large company blessed with many resources, but a similar approach can be applied in a smaller company situation, as lessons can be learnt about appropriation of resource and ownership of activity that is common to any size of team.
How do you organise your online team? I would love to hear what has and also what maybe hasn’t worked so well for you; leave a comment below.