Planning your governance strategy

Managing a single website is different from managing several websites. Uncomplicated decisions with a single website can become hopelessly complicated when the overlapping and conflicting needs of various website properties are managed as a group. As a result, organizations have chosen to standardize their digital properties on a common platform, but struggle with the process of designing and building the platform to meet their needs, migrating disparate properties to the platform, and maintaining the platform after the build completion.

Platform governance can help speed the development of your platform, streamline its management, and ensure its success after launch. Acquia defines governance as a decision-making framework enabling an organization to assign ownership, set priorities, and define shared guidelines, standards, and processes for all platform users.


For more governance information specific to Site Factory, see Governance on Site Factory.

Properly implemented, platform governance can provide the following benefits to your organization:

  • Improve strategy and ownership: Establishing roles and responsibilities leads to clear lines of communication for enterprise-wide goals

  • Define policies and standards: Reduce risk and improve consistency by establishing enterprise-wide standards for corporate branding, data collection, storage, and content standards

  • Streamline business and technical processes: Deliver digital experiences more consistently and efficiently by establishing agile development processes to support both enterprise-wide priorities and brand-specific priorities

  • Develop a platform to meet your needs: Establish a content management platform that can scale to support enterprise-wide goals, including a common feature set and reusable components

In the series, we discuss the types of governance your properties may need, governance implementation, and how to use governance to architect, build, migrate to, and maintain the platform to meet your organization’s unique needs.

Common governance challenges

Organizations with insufficient or ineffective platform governance over their online properties can see various problems develop in their online presence, ranging from organizational challenges, delivery challenges, and user experience challenges.

Organizational challenges

Enterprise-wide initiatives and goals are often unclear in organizations without enough governance. Situations without appropriate governance create difficulties for employees and teams to work together, causing an unequal allocation of available resources. There may not be a clear definition of roles or responsibilities across the enterprise, nor visibility into what digital solutions exist to improve how teams work together.

Delivery challenges

In organizations without appropriate governance, a lack of mature delivery processes can lead to development teams inconsistently or inefficiently delivering projects. Solutions chosen may be too inflexible to meet the needs of different brands or markets. Since teams look busy, and every issue gets top priority, measuring work or goals becomes difficult.

User experience challenges

Organizations lacking governance see internal problems begin to affect their end users. A lack of governance can lead to inconsistent branding experiences, including different messaging across different touch points in the customer journey, making a more difficult experience for users to connect to your brand.

Common governance mistakes

Avoiding some of the most common mistakes and misperceptions of platform building will increase the likelihood of your project’s success. Some of the possible mistakes include the following:

  • Insufficient planning or no​ ​planning
    Agile development frameworks do not take the place of adequate planning to ensure an effective project achieves the prescribed business goals.

  • Not building a demo
    ​Building a live website and then launching, before initially building a demo website or profile, may not include features needed by other websites on the platform.

  • Building a website instead of a platform
    ​Building websites before gaining​ ​alignment​ on shared features ​among​ ​platform​ ​users increases complexity later in the project, and increases the likelihood of project failure.

  • Not following minimum viable product (MVP) approaches
    ​Starting from the minimum viable product for your demo website or profile enables you to build broad agreement for platform features. The MVP allows teams to refine and adjust features before broadly deploying the demo, which can result in lower development costs.

  • Not seeking sign-offs for demos
    ​Proceeding with website development before getting agreement from all stakeholders about the platform’s baseline can mean missing critical features. The result can affect project complexity in the short term, and adoption and use of the finished platform in the long term.

  • Not establishing rules for inclusion
    ​Recognizing certain websites (such as standalone microsites) may not belong on your platform can save you significant development costs, instead of attempting to develop a platform to meet 100% of every website’s needs, regardless of the websites’ requirements.

Understanding your organization’s needs

Establishing an effective governance model requires you to understand and document key aspects of your business and operations, including the following:

  • Your technical personnel: The groups involved in planning your platform. Know your platform’s users and maintainers. Will your development or maintenance require access to third parties, such as contractors or agencies?

  • Your business personnel: How will your technical personnel interact with other business groups, such as marketers? Technical personnel will own what aspects of your platform? Who else will own other aspects? What level of support should you expect from all groups?

  • Your goals: Goals easy to measure with a single website can be more challenging to measure on a platform. Understanding your definition of success, and how to measure success, will help you architect a platform to enable success.

Documenting your governance policy

Your governance policy should provide clear guidance on all aspects of building, maintaining, and expanding your platform. Although no two governance policies are the same, some common topics in governance policies include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Governance structure

  • Committee responsibilities

  • Legal and security compliance guidelines

  • Accessibility

  • Request and appeal processes

  • Roles and permissions

  • Editorial workflow

  • Training and education

  • Branding and messaging guidelines

  • Guidelines for visual content (such as videos)

  • Social media use

  • Mobile applications

  • Measurement and analytics

  • Change management

More information

On the next page in the governance series, you’ll learn more about the Types of governance needed in your platform.