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In the first post in this series, we talked about the value of digital analytics and why establishing structure and governance to your digital analytics program is absolutely critical to success. In this second post, we will focus on the specifics of how to govern the program – namely, the creation of a Digital Analytics Governance Council.

From Digital Analytics Projects to Program Governance 

Who “owns” the website in your organization? Who “owns” web development? Who “owns” digital analytics? How about digital marketing, content strategy, content creation, social media, paid search, and content management? 

In other words: which individual or group will oversee, manage, mediate, and prioritize the digital measurement, testing, and optimization needs of the different strategic areas and business units throughout your organization? 

Who are the key stakeholders as your organization undergoes the transformation necessary to thrive on data-based and data-backed decisions? Who are the people that should be involved as you build this digital decision-support system to help manage your continuous improvement opportunities? Digital analytics governance should align with general organizational governance, setting expectations and defining standards. 

Are we really investing time in high priority projects, or are we just spending time on whatever has our attention at the moment? 

Keeping digital analytics strategy, tactics, priorities, and projects aligned with the overall business is one main benefit of a successful governance model. The greatest potential value lies in enabling your digital analytics specialists to invest more of their time on high-value activities like user education, advanced analysis, testing and optimization. This means more time invested in high priority, high potential return projects, and less time spent on low priority work. 

The Digital Analytics Governance Council 

If the executives of your company are stressing the need for improved measurement and accountability, then digital analytics governance should not be a new concept for them. Appropriate governance of your digital data supply chain will ensure that the right people have the right information, in the right format, at the right time. This means they will be empowered to make better, faster, and more accurate strategic and tactical decisions for your business and your customers. For many large businesses, this requires business leaders from each relevant area of the company to participate in a digital analytics governance committee or council. 

A council like this demonstrates clear ownership and accountability for digital data and the people, processes, and systems supporting these projects. Digital marketing, merchandising, human resources, finance, web development, digital analytics, content strategy, user experience design, advertising, information architecture, content management, project management, strategic planning, technology infrastructure, mobile teams, social media, and even sales management should each be represented at this council level. Remember that one of the main functions of this group is to ensure clear and timely communication, analysis, and reporting throughout the organization, so it’s best to invite as many areas of the company as possible to participate. 

The Work of the Council 

Documenting the strategies, tactical projects, data collection requirements, systems implementation, analysis, and reporting processes will ensure that your digital decision-support system is complete, current, and accurate as your site grows and changes. Since these processes involve a wide variety of business units, it’s a good idea to appoint an Executive Sponsor to act as Chairman of the Board of the Digital Analytics Governance Council. This provides critical leadership and executive support to the committee, its actions, standards, and communications. The top-down emphasis and support this lends to the entire governance program cannot be overstated – it’s a tremendous benefit. 

Structuring the Council 

Once the committee is in place and the Executive Sponsor / Chairman is appointed, the planning can begin, and structuring the group should be one of the first actions. Most large companies will appoint a Board to serve as the management team for the broader Council. Board members are generally more senior executives and managers who provide oversight, direction, and support. The Council itself should have as many or as few members as you need to manage your digital analytics and web development programs. As mentioned above, inviting participation from as many relevant areas of the company as possible is strongly recommended. 

Once the Council Board and membership group is in place, the real work can begin. To start, the group should discuss and consider the following areas: 

Accountability: Defining who does what, when, how, and why, within the scope of digital analytics and related processes. Assigning roles, responsibilities and duties. Who will set measurement priorities? Who will maintain the measurement infrastructure? 

Availability: Ensure that business requirements, data collection requirements, analysis findings and reports are accurate, timely and available to the right people at the right times. Ensure appropriate access to data, integration with the appropriate systems, and access controls for tools and data are all in place, monitored and managed. 

Community: All relevant business units and teams should be represented in meetings, processes, and communications. 

Standards: This includes policies, procedures, processes and definitions for all teams, systems, analytics and analysis reports. Key metrics, KPIs, calculations, reporting cycles, and scheduled review of improvement opportunities should be set, documented, and communicated to all relevant participants. 

Prioritization: Requests for data, analysis and reporting are growing exponentially. These requests need to be prioritized based on strategic value, project feasibility and potential return on investment. Which requests get fulfilled in which order, by what set of standards, and when? How will you prioritize between new requirements, existing recurring requests, and ad-hoc requests? 

These are not easy questions. Don’t expect to answer them in just one meeting. This will take time and effort, but it is important to remember that this work is absolutely worth it.

In our next blog post in our Governance Series, we’ll talk about how a Digital Analytics Governance Council is a form of change management program, and how that can guide your organization’s approach to building and maintaining the Council.

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