Morphing into Web business managers

FCW's DotGov Thursday column explains the evolving responsibilities of Web managers

As the World Wide Web becomes increasingly woven into agency programs, the character of the Web community continues to "morph." Community members evolve from Web heroes, to Web teams, to Web managers and to the final destination—Web business managers.

The Web business manager thinks in terms of a Web organization as opposed to a Web site.

Significant trends in policies and reports are encouraging Web managers to take a larger organizational perspective. Indeed, the Capability Maturity Models published by Carnegie Mellon University have established a perspective of "organizational maturity."

This theme also recently appeared in a General Accounting Office report defining organizational financial maturity and a CIO Council Security, Privacy and Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee report defining organizational security maturity.

Collectively, the many congressionally mandated reporting requirements imposed on agencies define a federal version of strategic management. Subsequent guidelines from oversight organizations spell out responsibilities for capital planning, performance measures, budgeting, information collections, modernization of transactions with the public and more.

Another significant trend calls for integrating Web activities to offer a horizontal look across government. Clearly, FirstGov is the ultimate first step in this effort.

But interoperability at the technical level is not enough—functions delivered on the Web must also work together at the business level. The role of the Web business manager is to seek and facilitate business and technical collaboration.

This role becomes further complicated as the worlds of government and commerce collide.

The public benefit model calls for prioritizing projects based on services that provide the greatest public good. The private competitive model calls for prioritizing projects based on maximum profit and growth. Government projects have attributes of both to varying degrees. The Web business manager walks a middle ground in the relationship of the federal government to the public and to industry. This means, more often than not, Web projects have some attributes of both models.

As mentioned in previous columns, the Web business manager's activities have seven attributes, or dimensions: architectures, business, leadership and culture, management, policy, electronic relationships and technology.

These dimensions require the Web business manager to develop a broad set of skills in accounting, appropriations, budgeting, capital planning, intellectual property, business management, marketing and sales, procurement, performance measures, project management, security and Web technologies.

The e-relationship dimension is especially important and guides many other activities. The first priority of the Web business manager should be managing the life cycle of the customer relationship, which extends from attracting the customer to your Web site to fulfilling the customer's request for your product or service.

Marketing and sales plans should incorporate internal and external relationships, keeping in mind that collaboration across agencies enhances success and improves service. And projects should be organized around customer themes with business and technology architectures that are customer-centric.

See these links for more information about managing in the federal context:

The seven dimensions for Web business managers

Top skills for federal Web business managers

Customer-centric architectures

Summary on e-relationships

A primer on architectures

GPEA resources

E-Sign resources

Information Collection Budgets resources

Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of the Federal WebMasters Forum and is director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies Division.