Reduce Complexity: State Key Business Requirements (KBR’s)!

Steven van het Veld, a well-known Dutch independent principal (enterprise) information architect, claims that companies spend more on their website than on their enterprise architecture. This statement seems to be in line with something else I recently heard: Organizations spend much more on their website than on business process improvement, while the Return On Investment (ROI) of business process improvement is much higher.

Why do I make these remarks? I recently wrote an article on website transition and a hose of questions was my harvest. Most people explained that a website is a very essential asset of a company and that sole fact is sufficient to spend a lot of money on it without questioning the ROI. There is no need for a transition from old to new, because funding a completely new rebuild is easy.

KBR’s for a Website

I can understand that, but I also think that answer is too easy. A website can, and should, be a part of the business strategy. That implies that the website should fulfill requirements of sales, marketing, operation, customer service, and finance. That also implies that managing a website is important as well as difficult: Who is the business owner in this multidisciplinary environment?

This brings up the next questions:

  • What are the Key Business Requirements (KBRs) of your website?
  • Which Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are used to measure the performance?
  • How are you going to implement the real-time KPI feedback dashboard, and make sure that continuous improvement is embedded in your operational processes?

Good questions, and no easy answers without a business owner! Some examples of KBR’s for a website:

  • Inform the public about some issue.
  • Increase the lead generation.
  • Provide an on-line sales facility.

Note that these KBR’s are quite different, leading to very different KPI’s.

The 5 Times Why Methodology

Why does not a website provide a serious ROI? Without a clear business owner it is difficult to get clear multidisciplinary and measurable requirements for a website. The same goes for a smooth improvement process, complete with a real-time feedback and automatic dashboard.

One of methodologies that really can help you here is Five Times Why, officially known as the 5 Whys. The 5 Whys can be used on its own, as well as part of 6Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, or Lean Six Sigma. It is recommended as a good practice to perform the on-the-spot verification of the answer to the current “why” question, before proceeding to the next why. So: it is not the question that counts (Why!), but the serious and verified answer!

Reduce Complexity!

Like any other business topic without a clear business owner, optimizing a website is not an easy task. It is imperative to reduce the complexity of the website management, and get back to the basics: Clear KBR’s, clear KPI’s, and a real-time dashboard driving the improvement process are mandatory.

Using this approach leads to an easy implementable and maintainable website. Why? Because you assigned a business owner, reduced complexity by introducing a very few but very relevant KBR’s, and introduced continuous improvement!

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