The value of web governance is that it can deliver a minimum level of quality for both operations and online experience. Get it right and you'll have happy users and happy staff. Yet, without a higher purpose, even the best governance system is like a Porsche stuck in neutral. A beautiful machine, but ultimately pointless. As such, we must never forget that web governance is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The real point is that it gives you the stability you need to focus on more important things - like your online goals.

No online management system ever emerges fully formed and perfect. Development, evolution, and sometimes revolution are all features of a maturing web team. Having worked with dozens of organizations in many industries, I now visualize progress in Web Governance as a journey made up of three phases.

These phases reflect how an organization - and its incumbent web manager - advance towards operational stability. Use the "Web Governance Roadmap" described here to work out the distance you have covered on this journey - and what remains to be done.

PHASE 1: Discover

At Phase 1, an organization discovers the topic of web governance for the first time. The focus here is on learning what online management is all about and seeing how to use these ideas to put order on complexity.

PHASE 2: Organize

By this stage, the organization finally 'gets' web governance and is ready to commit to doing it right. The web manager is given the go-ahead to create a proper system of control, with the manpower, skills, tools, and other things needed to build operational stability.

PHASE 3: Optimize

You are now in the happy position of having a governance system that is broadly right. That is, you have the right people in the right roles with the right tools and the right budget, etc, with few distractions like role conflict or missing leadership.

In addition, because there are so few distractions, you are able to spend time optimizing your already functional governance to make it even better, e.g. by scrutinizing the 

new Analytics of Web Governancethat I have written about before.

Revisiting PHASE 2: Re-Organize

It's worth noting that from time to time, even firms with stable governance may go through periods of turmoil that require online management to be reorganized, e.g. as the result of a merger, a major strategy change, etc.

A New Roadmap for Web Governance

Different industries progress at different rates along the web governance journey. Even within industries, a wide range of governance maturity may be exhibited. Some are leaders and others followers. Issues such as politics, culture, and leadership often influence how quickly an organization makes progress.

There is no hard and fast rule as to where you 

should be on this journey. That said, if you manage a web presence that is core to overall strategy, and you are in a mid-large scale organization,I recommend that you get to Phase 2 pretty soon. The demands of online activities are now so onerous and complex that flapping around the edges of web governance is no longer good enough. It's time to do it right.

A web team that must endure ill-defined roles, out-of-date procedures, and leadership neglect will eventually buckle under the strain. Executives who ignore this reality are putting their entire online investment at risk.

Furthermore, not only is web governance important for risk avoidance, but is also emerging as a key element of competitive advantage. Just as we have seen other online specialties (such as usability, content, analytics, etc.) become important as points of differentiation - so too is web governance.

A common question I hear is: Who is best globally at web governance? It's very hard to say. Few organizations share insights about their online management. However, the 

Government Digital Services (GDS) team in the UKis doing some amazing work and frequently publishes about it.

An organization with a governance system that is fine-tuned for stability (zero online errors, zero operational issues) will be far more agile than its peers and able to react to opportunity faster. This is particularly important in sectors where other core disciplines have already been mastered.

Online stability will only emerge as the result of a steady journey - one that builds a configuration of governance that is appropriate to the scale of your digital operations.