10 skills federal Webmasters need
- By Rich Kellett
- Mar 29, 2000
If I were asked what one article I would want to send to every Webmaster
in the federal government, it would be this one.
Webmasters stand at a decisive moment in time, professionally and personally.
Webmasters are being drawn in rapidly as key players and leaders in conducting
the federal government's business. My recommendation for Webmasters is to
seize this moment by embracing the trend toward becoming more involved in
Career opportunities, specifically promotions, for Webmasters will result
if they become more directly involved in the government's business issues.
Webmasters will feel more personally fulfilled by making more direct contributions
to improving the daily lives of citizens.
To be successful in leading and managing government business over the
World Wide Web, Webmasters will need a broad set of business skills. The
following recommendations will assist Webmasters in developing the skills
as quickly as possible and in the least amount of time. What is provided
here is the ideal "Individual Development Plan" that would be included as
part of a Webmaster's annual performance goals.
1. Take a five-day training course on project management. Project management
will tie together a number of business activities, such as budgeting, schedules,
organizational structures staffing and more.
2. Take a two- to five-day Web architecture and design course that includes
interactive databases. More attention needs to be placed on handling transactions
over the Web, because this is significantly more difficult than managing
3. Take a one- to two-day small business course. A small business course
provides a quick overview of key business concepts in areas such as marketing,
sales, accounting, financial management, personnel management, product development
and more. Everyone in my division has taken a small business course.
4. Take a one- or two-day course in accounting for managers and a five-day
course in financial management. These courses are important to understand
the "language of business." Purchase a financial calculator that has buttons
for cash flow analysis before taking these courses.
5. Contact the Center for Applied Financial Management and take their
two-day course titled, "Implications of Federal Appropriations Law." Appropriations
law provides the principles and concepts of handling money in the federal
government. After taking this course, I cannot imagine why this is not a
requirement for every federal employee.
6. Take a one- to five-day course on budgeting, depending on your interest
7. With information and knowledge becoming the "currency" of the new
economy, it is important to take a one- or two-day course on intellectual
property. A revolution in intellectual property has occurred over the last
few years, not the least of which is enhanced criminal penalties in the
area of copyright. All businesses should be developing and implementing
strategies in this area.
8. After scanning the Web for an update on PKI, digital certificates
and security, take a one- to two-day course in security that covers these
9. Take a one- to two-day course on contracting officer's technical
representative (COTR) and a second one- to two-day course on contracting
law for contracting officers. The COTR course provides more of the administrative
basics of contracting and the contracting law course helps to understand
many of the socioeconomic and other policies that have to be incorporated
10. In some cases I recommend reading materials rather than taking a
formal course. I recommend reading the General Services Administration's
handbook for chief information officers on capital planning. You can access
a version by clicking here.
I recommend purchasing a textbook on strategic marketing and a second
textbook on technical sales. I recommend technical sales because, for the
most part, Webmasters are not involved in retail sales to consumers. Review
the outlines in each book and, as the need arises, read the material. It
is important that you understand concepts such as channels of distribution
and market share as part of the language of business.
I recommend reading GSA's performance measures guide, "Performance-Based
Management: Eight Steps To Develop and Use Information Technology Performance
Measures Effectively." [www.itpolicy.gsa.gov/mkm/pathways/8-steps.htm.]
At some point, I hope that someone will develop a one- to five-day Web
business course for federal employees that would encapsulate most of the
principles above. We are working on this, but I hope not to the exclusion
of private-sector organizations. Please send me an e-mail message if you
know of such a course at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of
the Federal Webmaster Forum, and is director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies