10 skills federal Webmasters need

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 business issues.

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 documents.

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 and involvement.

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 topics.

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 in contracts.

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 [email protected]

— 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 Division.


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