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How To Setup Your Organization for Multisite Success

With the shift to online business, many organizations—in particular large, global companies—have found the daunting need to create and manage multiple websites for their countless brands and products. At the same time, their customers are demanding better digital experiences from them, causing companies to move at a rapid pace to stay ahead of the changing digital landscape.

Many enterprises today are managing tens, if not hundreds (or thousands!) of websites and related digital properties, that in some cases have evolved from simple HTML pages to dynamic, often complex sites hosted on different environments. When multiple teams across regions are quickly creating and deploying sites, oftentimes, brand consistency, security and site performance are in jeopardy.

Take Back Control Over Your Digital Experiences

We are seeing this trend prevalent at Acquia. Many organizations are coming to us with the same dilemma—multisite digital experience management. As companies scale and marketing teams are tasked with getting work done faster, digital technology and IT professionals are faced with managing a growing number of digital properties across multiple brands and languages.

Governance is often lacking as dispersed teams are tasked with building, deploying and managing content across sites and different content management systems, causing digital experiences to be inconsistent across properties. Without a layer of multisite control, brands risk losing their cohesiveness.

For example, companies that have multiple brands will also have multiple sites/experiences to manage. Each site may be managed by a different team or agency, and may likely as result, have completely different digital branding themes, user experiences, site code bases, and platforms—resulting in an inconsistent brand experience. Organizations could end up spending thousands (or even millions) of dollars creating, supporting or revamping these varied digital experiences, wasting valuable time and resource .

Managing multiple sites on different platforms makes the goal of central governance a difficult one to achieve. To improve visibility and security, organizations need to be able to manage all of their sites from one digital experience management platform. A central management platform will provide multisite visibility across all groups of sites, users and applications to reduce risk and ensure compliance as required. Further, having all sites on one digital management platform allows new functionality or modules that can improve site performance to be deployed, in a controlled and secure manner across a collection of sites all at once.

Three Keys to Multisite Control

Today’s enterprises must reassess their approach to multisite governance, and develop a framework that unifies teams and brings a standardized level of control to multisite digital experience management.

To help make your multisite digital experience governance project successful, we recommend focusing on team structure (people, process and policy) coupled with operations (site procedures, security, consistent lifecycle delivery of the digital experience).

If you’re ready to hit the ground running, here are a few best practices to give you a head start so you can take control over your digital experiences.

  1. Build your team and identify roles: With a governance team, multisite control can be established and enforced. Choose the right people for your team by identifying leaders from digital business, IT and corporate across areas such as creative, development, site building and operations. This will give you the right mix of people to govern building digital experiences into site requirements and architectures for service quality. Once you have your team, you can provision web content management roles such as content creators, editors, approvers, and publishers. This will help give teams like marketing or web a level of freedom to get work done, while still allowing IT to maintain a level of control over the process.
  2. Creating your governance framework and model: Next, you’ll want to create a governance framework that assesses people, processes and tools. Your framework should be documented and repeatable, so you can build unified digital experiences from creation through to operations and over again. This framework should set the stage for how your governance team plans, develops, delivers and operates so everyone is on the same page when it comes to building digital experiences. (Starting off, you may want to focus on content and site models, digital branding and IT digital operations.) After your framework is ready, develop a site governance model. Discover what all of your corporate sites across brands and countries have in common from a content and platform perspective to ensure your digital governance model maps back to your company’s digital experience. Then, establish web guidelines such as content templates, a customer experience approach, or site standards to ensure team alignment and brand consistency.
  3. Implementing your plan for success: You’re nearly there now! The final step is putting your plan into action—oftentimes starting a new routine can be the most difficult part. Your governance team will be the center of excellence for planning, delivering and operating sites, ensuring sites and assets are updated. They will also be responsible for approving or rejecting site changes and requests, and keeping everyone informed. A digital experience cloud platform will help mitigate the web governance process through multisite management and developer tools, built-in access and content provisioning, experience assembly and operations for each site, and more—allowing for a global, centralized system of record. Understand that web governance is an integral part of an organization’s procedures and that it too will evolve overtime. Your governance team will likely evaluate its program annually to ensure procedures are current.

Effective multisite control helps keep all teams on the same track to deliver unified digital experiences across the organization. It doesn’t matter if an organization is managing a few digital properties or a thousand, with the right standards and principles in place, teams can easily and securely work together to create on-brand, digital experiences with ease and at scale.

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