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Investment in online channels

Identify appropriate online outcomes, their costs, and ensure your investment in online products aligns with your online channels strategy.

Each online product requires ongoing investment and can be expected to make a measurable contribution to an agency's strategic goals.

To meet this expectation, agencies should be able to align each online product with their channel strategy and have assurance that each product is delivering measurable results that contribute to the agency's strategic outcomes.

For some agencies, this may require re-thinking approaches to aspects of online delivery.

Aligning your channel strategy with strategic outcomes

Your agency should have, or plan to have, online channel strategies which outline your broader approach to online delivery and management.

These strategies should specify the principles outlining your agency’s approach to your online channel. It may include considerations such as:

  • How the agency’s online channel supports, and is supported by, other delivery channels.
  • Relationships with other participants in the agency’s sector (government, non-government and private sector), and principles of engagement with them as appropriate to achieve strategic outcomes.
  • Alignment with the Strategy for a Digital Public Service.
  • How to optimise the agency’s total web presence.
  • Guiding principles around the relationship to common government capabilities such as:
  • User engagement and strategies to ensure a user-centric focus for online products.
  • A programme of periodic review of online products to assess ongoing effectiveness and provide assurance of continued fitness for purpose.
  • The agency’s style online (for example, this may include consistent branding standards and a focus on plain English).
  • Expectations of conformance to required standards including security, privacy and accessibility.
  • Requirements to ensure critical factors such as accessibility, usability, security and privacy are embedded into the lifecycle of online products.
  • Requirements to ensure clear business outcomes can be defined and measured for each online product.
  • Expectations of business owners around ongoing monitoring and assurance activities.
  • An agency-wide approach to measuring online operating costs.

A checklist for your product strategy

Agencies should have, or plan to have, a simple strategy for each public online product they operate.

Web strategies need not be exhaustive, and agencies are encouraged to favour succinct and factual statements over aspiration.

A web strategy might briefly describe objective, audience, alignment, linkages, engagement, a monitoring and measuring plan, maintenance and a lifecycle plan.

This table has questions for each element of a web strategy to help you develop or evaluate it.

Table 1: Online product checklist

Element of web strategy Evaluation questions
  • What value does the online product provide to users?
  • What is the value to the agency of providing and maintaining the online product?
  • Who is expected to get value from using the site?
  • How well does the site align with the principles of the online channel strategy?
  • How does it support the agency’s strategic goals and contribute to the delivery of the agency’s SOI?
  • How does it align with broader government policies and common capability initiatives?
  • What relationships exist with other sites in the sector including those of other agencies or private sector partners?
  • Have you explored opportunities to consolidate efforts?
  • How will the intended audience be attracted to the online product?
  • What strategies are needed to encourage uptake, and how will uptake be measured?
Monitoring and measuring plan
  • What indicators will you use to measure how well the online product delivers on its objectives of value to users and value to the agency?
  • What metrics will you collect and report, and how?
  • What processes are in place to ensure content is reviewed for accuracy and currency?
  • How will site managers and publishers engage with business units to ensure content remains relevant and current?
  • What metrics can be captured to assess content review and update?
  • How can users have confidence that content is still current and reliable?
Lifecycle plan
  • What’s the anticipated lifetime of the online product (before rebuild)?
  • Are milestones set to periodically review the success of the site?
  • How fresh is the content and what is its ongoing relevance?
  • What allowance have you made for enhancement and improvements to functionality over the life of the online product?

Ensuring your product budget is complete and reliable

Agencies can reasonably be expected to report accurately on the cost of investment in each online product. The following checklist may help you check that you have included everything in your cost estimates and that you monitor costs more reliably.

Total implementation costs

Checklist to ensure you have included all implementation costs

  • Can you measure total implementation costs?
  • Do your cost estimates include the following:
    • procurement
    • security and vulnerability testing
    • user research and testing
    • accessibility testing?
  • Are user testing, accessibility consultancy and testing, and security testing and remediation, factored into the implementation plans from the start?

Cost of maintenance

Checklist for measuring costs of maintenance

Does the product's maintenance budget include the costs of:

  • content development and maintenance
  • additional specialist expertise
  • hosting
  • technical support including patching and upgrades to the platform
  • periodic security review and accessibility assessment
  • third-party services the site may require (such as hosted Web Application Firewall or security monitoring and scanning services)
  • allowance for any necessary remedial measures through the life of the site?

Cost of enhancements

  • Is budget allocated for future evolution or enhancement to meet changing expectations and technical capabilities?

You may want to use or adapt a website budget planning spreadsheet that was developed by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Website budget planner (XLS 31KB)

Website budget planner

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