The session ran for 90 minutes and was attended by 25 people. Malcolm Raggett, the session leader, gave a 10 minute presentation then led a discussion on management issues faced by the delegates. The issues raised were:
Many delegates felt isolated and found it difficult to communicate with their departmental Web co-ordinators. Mailing lists and meetings were noted as only partially effective.
Many institutions do not attempt to quantify or cost their Web work. It was felt that this led to it being undervalued and invisible. If senior management support is to be forthcoming then a more business-like approach would be needed to managing the Web site.
An institution-wide strategy towards Web development is lacking in most institutions, however locally produced authoring guidelines are increasingly in use.
The size of institution sites is growing to the point where maintenance is becoming very difficult with existing resources. Some areas are moving to a database driven approach to ease site maintenance and allow a site to become more scalable. The need for a database to be structured was noted, with a potential advantage that this could impose a useful discipline on some users! Nobody could identify a totally data driven institution; each had a mixture of database and html files.
It was acknowledged that, as intranet sites grew, the expectation that users would explore and find the information they want was not being met. Some form of "push" approach to providing information is becoming necessary. Perhaps a form of "My Intranet" (a technology discussed on Day 1 of this Workshop) is increasingly needed. But how is it designed and implemented effectively?
A number of management issues were raised concerning the demotivation of staff working on Web sites. The need to maintain individuals' commitment, the need to consult staff, the style of management, how to handle users who don't agree with an imposed page style, individuals' time management, and getting senior management support within the institution were all discussed. It was felt that training would help all of these issues. In particular, the issue of senior management support was believed to be a serious brake on successful Web development.
A number of delegates reported the difficulty of changing the attitude and approach of those staff, especially academic staff, who have been producing Web pages for a number of years; their approach often being to continue working in the same way rather than adopt newer technologies and practices. In particular, it was felt that the principle of process re-engineering should be taught. It was also felt that the idea of publishing initially in electronic form and re-purposing this should get more credence.
All of the recommendations are for training to be made available, by JISC Assist or others, as follows: