Digital Governance Basics

Digital governance challenges are organizational challenges but, unfortunately, they manifest in negative ways on your websites and social channels—anywhere your organization operates online. Your instinct might be to fix the problem by redesigning a website, crafting a solid content strategy—or maybe you might even implement a new content management system. But none of these things will answer the fundamental question that comes alongside organizational digital collaboration—who gets to decide what we put online? Without answering that question, the work that your decentralized technology and content teams create will always be out of sync and the deep investments made in developing your digital channels will be wasted.

Addressing the fundamentals of decision-making is what digital governance is all about. There are three questions that need to be answered:

1. Who defines digital strategy?

Your digital strategy defines how your organization will leverage digital to meet broad business goals. A lot of times organizations skip considering the business aspects of a digital strategy and jump straight to the “what are we going to make” part. That’s a mistake. A good digital strategy takes into consideration the dynamics of your market and the relevant business drivers that are identified by senior leadership before it gets down to the tactics of what to build and how to build it. So, it’s important to have both digital and business leaders in the room when defining your digital strategy.

2. Who writes digital policy?

It’s important to ensure that your organization realizes all the opportunities and manages the risks associated with doing business online. It’s a balancing act. While the global, digital policy arena is always shifting as the use of online channels matures, there are some real dos and don’ts. Many organizations have not thought about digital policy deeply enough and are inadvertently operating outside of the bounds of the law or in ways that are not in their own best interest. The impact of digital is broad.  So, it is important to bring a broad spectrum of players to the table when writing digital policy—not just your marketing and IT teams.

3. Who establishes digital standards?

If you haven’t determined who decides what standards will be used for digital development, then everyone considers themselves the decider. And that’s how you end up with a mess online. In the early days of experimenting with new digital functionality, it might be okay to make things up as you go along. But before you scale functionality, it’s important to establish at least some basic standards. This ensures that your new functionality scales with integrity. Not just anyone should establish digital standards, though. Be sure that digital experts across all domains write your standards and put into place mechanisms for communicating those standards to your internal and external digital team members. That way everyone knows when, where, and how to use those rules.

Once you’ve got these basics covered, you can make ongoing investments in digital with confidence. You know that you will be building on top of a solid foundation that supports how your organization operates online.