Sunday, October 6, 2013

Changing My Dissertation Topic From 'Organizational Commitment' to 'Web Governance in Higher Education"

I'm currently enrolled in RES/724 at the University of Phoenix where the title of the course is Qualitative Methods and Design. The purpose of the class is to help doctoral learners better understand qualitative research and how to design our research projects according to accepted standards. It is an interesting course that helped shed light on my own study. 

A few weeks ago, one of our assignments was to select a new research topic. Using that topic, we would practice developing a problem statement, purpose, research questions, and defend data collection methods. This week, we're looking at hypothetical themes derived from those methods.

It was during the process of selecting a new topic that I decided to pick something that would benefit my career in information technology and web development. At first, I thought about researching the path to Chief Information Officer (CIO), but realized that I would need to talk with the elusive senior leaders and quickly decided against it. I want like to graduate this year.

I then looked at something more specific to web services. What issues are we having in my field? Without a moments hesitation, the idea of web governance came to mind. 

What Is Web Governance?

According to Lisa Welchman, as cited in Johnathan Khan's Web Governance: Becoming an Agent of Change, web governance consists of four components:
  • Web Strategy
  • Web Governance
  • Web Execution
  • Web Measurement

Web Strategy

The web strategy is a formal document that outlines guiding principles for the web. It involves an alignment with the business objectives and the business strategies. It further establishes authority, funding sources, and metrics based on the aforementioned business strategies.

Web Governance  

Web governance involves the establishment of web policies, procedures, and standards for content, design, and technology. 

Web Execution 

Web execution focuses on staffing and resources in support of the overall web strategy. 

Web Measurement

Web measurement is related to the overall metrics outlined in the business objectives and strategies. While it may involve web analytics, web measurement is more about the performance of the web and its contribution toward organizational success.

Why Is Web Governance Worth Studying?

With over 14 years experience developing web pages and applications for institutions of higher learning, I have personally watched how company web sites transformed from a digital brochure to an important resource for conducting business. According to Welchman, the web is a "digital manifestation of the organization." When the organization is healthy, so too is their web presence. Interestingly, the opposite can also be true, when the web presence is healthy, so too is their organization. Either of the two can lead the way to health.

In my effort to help North Carolina Central University improve its web presence, I believe conducting a study on web governance within higher education will help universities deal with issues like: 
  • Content silos
  • Multiple designs
  • Multiple logins for applications
  • Poorly integrated data
  • Poor navigation
  • Broken links
  • Lack of direction
  • Poor collaboration
  • Power struggles
To many, the company web site is a mess and few know how to fix it. Believe me, it's less about technical prowess and more to do with aligning people, processes, and objectives together. With this study, I plan to explore the idea of web governance within higher education. What are the shared problems? What are the potential solutions? What's working? Where do we go from here?

In Closing

I anticipate writing more posts about web governance and encouraging a healthy conversation, too. As I continue to research the literature and become more involved on campus, I will share those findings here. 


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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