July 31, 2013
Everyone has heard of the adage, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Never was that truer than with organizational governance of website optimization. For organizations new to testing and optimization, as well as those for whom this isn’t their first rodeo, giving some quick but critical forethought to the teams and process can accelerate successes and avoid the pitfalls that come from lack of both structure and guiding principles.
So you have (or are considering) a mechanism to test on your website. What do you optimize, and what defines success? Who determines the concepts that are acceptable and their priority? How can an organization best position itself for self-sustaining success?
Every test has a lifecycle, so examining the lifecycle steps below can inform how to best assemble your governance structure for the optimization team (or even the optimization individual):
1. Assembling a steering committee
2. Obtaining or reaffirming executive support
3. Gathering ideas
4. Vetting ideas into tests
5. Developing tests
6. Launching tests
7. Monitoring / analyzing results
8. Documenting learnings and iteration
Let’s focus on the first two steps in this post, since they will influence the rest of the governance structure.
• Assembling a steering committee, large or small, is essential to ongoing success of the optimization program. It’s ideal to have the following stakeholders represented and able to join a monthly meeting: 1) Optimization Manager, 2) Executive Champion, 3) Business Stakeholder(s), and 4) Technology Stakeholder(s). The first two are critical components of any steering committee since they will drive the process forward and give it organizational clout, respectively. While the latter two are ideal, they are sometimes not needed, especially in smaller organizations.
• Obtaining executive support is the next primary key step. The importance of this step cannot be overstressed. As you get into the details of vetting, prioritizing, launching, and analyzing tests, knowing that the optimization team can act with a fair amount of autonomy (within reason) and is licensed to fail (within reason) allows the process to move with much greater velocity, which provides more chances to succeed. As you build guide rails for the operational steps ahead in the optimization/testing program, executive support gives those guide rails some much-needed heft.
Once you have laid a foundation by defining the key people who will be involved in the program and their roles, it’s time to set parameters for how test/optimization ideas will be developed, vetted, and prioritized. In my next post on website optimization governance, we’ll discuss the ideation process and options for how to structure these steps so that they work well within your organization.
Will Harries is a Strategic Services Director at Monetate. He is an ecommerce specialist with substantial experience in end-to-end retail operations, consumer market research, strategy development, and P&L improvement.
People in a Business Team image courtesy of Shutterstock.