Online Community Governance: The Project Brief

One of the biggest challenges for those leading the community efforts for large organizations (or really, orgs of most sizes) is ensuring that the hosted community efforts of the organization are appropriate, valuable (both to the org and to the member / customer) and sustainable.

First, a little context. I worked at Autodesk for 6 years as the Online Experience Manager (basically a chief IA). The internal web team was structured as an agency within the company, and each division was a “client”. This approach has pros and cons that I won’t go in to now, but for the purposes of the conversation today, the effect was that we had oversight over most online activities, including any hosted community activity. One of the tools we used to ensure a quality online experience was to have our clients fill out a simple project brief describing their vision for the community.

Specifically, the brief covered:

  • Client Team and Stakeholders
  • A Summary of the initial community vision and purpose / rationale
  • Executive sponsorship
  • Community Manager and extended staff
  • Desired features and content
  • Goals “what does success look like?”
  • Budget
  • Launch date

I’m attaching a heavily modified version of the brief I used, updated with the benefit of a bit of hindsight.

I’d really love feedback on this, and would love to hear if you actually find it of use in your day to day practice.

You can download the brief template here:

oncomm_project_brief_v1