The building blocks of our new strategy
Having recently joined the University in the role of Head of Web Strategy & Technologies, I’ve had an intense few weeks getting to grips with the University’s online presence. In this post I’ll cover a little of my thinking around strategy, and upcoming areas of work.
My primary focus is to develop a new strategy for how the University uses web technologies to enhance our students’ digital experience, disseminate our best research, and engage with our diverse audiences. While strategy can sometimes seem to be shrouded in mystery, in truth, it’s a simple concept.
Anyone who doubts this should read Richard Rumelt’s inspirational ‘Good Strategy, Bad Strategy’ which is a great starting point to better understand how to develop strategies.
Rumelt surfaces the underlying logic of a strategy (‘The Kernel’, as he calls it) as a straightforward three stage process:
- diagnose the challenge
- establish a guiding policy for dealing with the challenge
- develop a set of coherent actions
It’s a simple and scalable approach. Applied properly, a strategy can be devised in five minutes or five months, appropriate to the size of the challenge.
Diagnosing the challenge
With this in mind, I’ve begun the process of ‘diagnosing the challenge’, a crucial part of which is understanding the size and reach of the University’s web estate.
- What type of websites do we operate?
- How many websites are there?
- Who manages them?
- Who are the users?
The new web strategy must be inclusive, both in terms of the websites and web technologies it considers and the people who contribute to it. It can’t simply take account of the core University website (www.ed.ac.uk) or the EdWeb Content Management System.
Conducting a web estate audit is instrumental in helping to diagnose the challenge. For the first time, the University will have a central register of websites and, more importantly, it’s an opportunity to engage with the people dedicated to managing those websites. Understanding the challenges staff from around the University face will be critical in establishing our strategic direction.
The website audit will help us to better manage the risk associated with a large web estate, whether that’s complying with legislation (such as the Data Protection Act) or understanding technical issues and security vulnerabilities.
For this to be successful, the website audit needs your input. If you manage one or more University websites, follow the link below and take a few minutes to input the headline information needed – the name of the website, URL, owner and anything else that’s important to know. If you manage a number of websites, there’s a simple excel template to populate.
This is the start of an exciting journey – the development of a new web strategy is a unique opportunity to develop a compelling vision for the future and a road map to get there. Conducting this audit may not seem like the most likely first step but it’s an absolutely critical one.