Building eGovernment Websites


WHOM will you make responsible for the site?

Although it may be designed to help you reduce administrative work in some areas, you should always consider that a website will create work for your agency.

Staff resources will be needed not only to produce and launch the site at the start of the project, but also to maintain and review it in the long term, and to respond to the extra flow of enquiries through different channels it may generate.

However you decide to allocate the necessary staff resources for developing and running a website, you should make sure you think in a long-term perspective : i.e. you will need to find staffing solutions that fit with the agency's priorities and budgets in the long run, to make the project viable and sustainable.

Roles and Responsibilities

There are three main areas of activity in the development and maintenance of a website, for which you should assign responsibilities:

Staffing Solutions

To cover all these functions you will need to allocate resources and identify the people who will carry out the work, both in the short and in the long term. In order to do so, you should ask yourself the following questions:

In-house or outsourced?

For every aspect of the production of a website, you should choose whether it is more convenient and efficient to address it by using internal resources that can be made available within your organisation ( in-house ) or by hiring another public agency or a private company to do it ( outsourcing) . This depends very much on how important the website is for your organisation. Outsourcing can be expensive, as private companies generally charge hefty amounts of money for web work. If the website becomes a constant and essential feature of the agency's work and requires a constant input of resources, you would probably be better off using internal resources. You may also decide that you want to outsource some of the work, and keep in-house the rest. A typical example: the first stages of the design and implementation of a website are often assigned to professional web designers outside the organisation. The maintenance of servers, which can be complex and rather expensive to run, is also very often outsourced, unless the organisation is very large or needs to control their servers directly (e.g. for security or legal reasons). Content management is instead often done in-house, as it requires knowledge and expertise that can be found more easily within the organisation than outside it.

Existing or new staff?

In the case of in-house solutions, you should evaluate whether it is possible to assign tasks to existing staff, or if you need to employ new staff. This depends on the workload generated by the website: if this can be sustainably integrated into present workloads, then you may choose to work with existing staff. But it is likely that you will need extra resources to run a website properly, so you should also consider employing new staff. This doesn't necessarily mean employing a new person to work on the web; perhaps one or more current employees possess the necessary skills, or are willing to develop them - the bonus in this case is that they already know the organisation very well: they could therefore be the right person for the job, so you might want to give them new web-related positions, and recruit new staff to cover the one they are leaving vacant. Training and redeploying existing staff may also be an interesting solution for organisations undergoing reform and restructuring, as it may help in finding a new role for members of staff that may otherwise become redundant.

However you decide to allocate the necessary resources for developing and running a website, you should always make sure that you do so in a long-term perspective. While a website can be quite expensive and resource-intensive to set up at first, if you want it to be successful you will have to take into account a constant effort, both in terms of time and money. Regular reviews and updates of contents are essential, as is the general maintenance of the site. If you opt for in-house solutions, you can try to make sure that website-related tasks are integrated into the job descriptions of the staff you employ, and that sufficient time and incentives are provided in order to carry them out. Don't leave this to improvisation: it's a recipe for disaster. If no one has the time to work on the site, this will become unusable and will detract from the overall image of the organisation. Like all other operations within your organisation, creating and running a website must be sustainable, if it is to be a success.

Page Author: Andrea Bardelli Danieli. Last updated on 19 October, 2008.
Please contact with comments and suggestions.