CEO at Econsultancy
07 January 2003 18:41pm
One of the questions that seems to come up increasingly is how to manage a global site where the local regions also want some autonomy. What elements should be global and what local? Most often, the objective is to benefit from global efficiencies (e.g. in technology platform) and quality control through consistency and yet maintain enough localised independence.
Here's how I would (as a starting point at least) tend to break out global vs. local:
1. What should be global (centralised platform)
A. Process / Standards:
- Brand standards (including style guidelines, design guidelines, editorial guidelines)
- Technology standards (coding standards, version control, languages, protocols, operating platforms, file naming conventions, directory structures, back ups etc.)
- Policies (URL policy, Security policy, Data Protection policies)
- Templates (including navigation logic, page layouts, presentation logic)
- Content architecture (principally the site map and content model)
- Workflow (common components)
- Service Level Agreements (e.g. with ISP, or Customer Service Levels where shared e.g. target response times)
- Hosting environment
- Back up and archiving
- Security systems and precautions
- Content Management System
- Customer Relationship Management System (e-mail marketing, personalisation, customer contact management etc.)
- Measurement and Analysis system (site usage tracking, reporting, analysis etc.)
- Other applications e.g. forums, search functions, knowledge bases etc.
2. What should be Local (Region/Country etc)
- Content (Creation, Maintenance, Local variations on editorial guidelines)
- Design (localised versions of design but within global templates e.g. different content but same layout)
- Marketing (including dedicated region/country URL which bypasses global homepage)
- Legal (local legal compliance)
What are the benefits of a global / centralised platform?
- Building a global platform with core technology, tools, processes, services and standards still gives the regions control over content and marketing which is important as they know their market and their customers best. However, it takes away a lot of the other work allowing them to focus on the content and marketing which, in the long term, are most vital to a successful ongoing web presence.
- Cost efficiency – you invest in fewer servers, require only 1 content management system, e-mail marketing application, measurement and analysis solution etc. This site is not only less costly to develop (fewer templates etc.) but is much less costly to maintain.
- Process efficiencies – centralising standards and core operations requires fewer jumps to get things done e.g. updating content that needs to be on all sites globally is done once by one person (the ‘publish once, update many’ principle)
- Quality control – centralising control of certain elements, such as style guidelines or technical standards, ensures the brand is consistently represented globally
- User benefits – for example a global search function which you can only sensibly do if all the content is searchable on the same server
- Improved marketing and customer insight – only with a centralised measurement system on the same server (or server cluster) can you get a good idea of what is happening globally and allow you to compare site usage region-to-region accurately and efficiently
- Shared learnings – centralisation helps ensure that where one region might benefit, the others stand a better change of benefiting too e.g. if one region improves upon its content, content management, online marketing, measurement and so on this can then be shared and implemented in other regions
Any got any comments on this?
Director at Skywire
08 January 2003 10:44am
>1. What should be global (centralised platform)
>Any got any comments on this?
Luckily having gone through this process fairly recently I can say that from the technology side of things the process is getting much easier.
When setting up our systems we picked a connectivity provider for our hosting center in advance that had multiple connectivity to each of the US/UK transatlantic providers to ensure that the latency involved between the UK and US would be minimal.
With some clever packet routing they manage to ensure that the packets being delivered are routed through the optimal carrier connection and therefore running our systems from the US is hardly distinguishable from having a mirrored server farm setup there (which used to be the only other way of doing this effectively).
One of the toughest challenges we've had with our global platform however is the holding of data in a central location for countries that have different data protection and storage laws. We looked at doing offsite disaster recovery in the US, however are forbidden by some of our carrier partners from exporting their data out of this country. Worth noting the same issue is potentially a hazard for anyone working either with cryptography or highly sensitive data.
A final area to think about (*and I missed this one for a while) is how you are going to provide a suitable service level agreement to a client in Australia using a platform in the UK when all of your support team are asleep during the very hours they are working.
Sometimes the need to have local people on the ground to support time zones can’t be solved through any technical or process delivered solution, but thank goodness that’s one of the last challenges left that can’t be logically tackled.
12 February 2003 12:02pm
There's a good reply on this subject to a Google question on "Website management best practices for companies--centralized or de-centralized" - view it at http://answers.google.com/answers/main?cmd=threadview&id=104375
President at ePlus Marketing
29 July 2008 03:34am
I can see the advantages to having a global template, but I was wondering if you have any information on how global templates effect Website conversion?
Since the purchasing process is based on culture it seems to me that "one size fits all" template would impact Website conversion. Do you know of any research based on global templates and Website conversion.
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