The first step in creating a site is to organise a team whose key role is to contribute and edit its overall content and structure. The size of the site and the number of DGs involved will determine the complexity of the organisation to be set up. Such organisation will inevitably cross the administrative boundaries that exist within a DG and sometimes also those existing between DGs. In the case of a site involving several DGs, one DG should take the leadership as DG “chef de file” and should be entrusted with the necessary authority to carry out its role. This has to be acknowledged from the early phases of the project and the existence of an autonomous, dedicated organisational structure, the site's Editorial Board, must be approved by the hierarchy.
Once the site team is formed a charter should be drafted that addresses the vision for the site as well as its users and target group. The charter should also contain approval processes, content management, funding, project management and technology management. Please see point IV in the enclosed Questionnaire.
The organisation that needs to be put in place for a site can vary widely depending on the size and the scope of the site. The description giving hereafter is a comprehensive overview of the organisation that would be needed to manage the policy sites and the main priority sites on EUROPA. Smaller sites will not necessarily need this complete organisational structure. In any case, it is necessary to have a complete understanding about the resources and organisation that will be needed for successful completion of the project.
Without the necessary resources a project is deemed to fail. Before the final green light can be given, it is necessary to have a complete understanding about the resources and organisation that will be needed for successful completion of the project and a formal commitment from the hierarchy that these resources will indeed be available. For important projects, it may be necessary to foresee different scenarios that contain the scope of the project within the limits of the available resources.
Following elements must be taken into consideration:
- staff to be dedicated fully or partially to the project
- available budget
- requirements for the technical environment
- time deadlines
It is important to clearly assign operational responsibilities of the actors, in order to ensure smooth running of the project. A job description should be provided for each profile outlining the corresponding responsibilities, co-operation patterns, specific tasks, the desirable qualifications and required infrastructure.
Content provider (Authors)
Content providers are responsible for supplying material in the form of articles. These articles fulfil the requirements set by the editorial policy in its entirety. Content providers answer directly to their respective editor.
The editor’s role is to validate, upload and approve new content and to manage the translation process for the entire content. Their tasks involve also proofreading (spelling, syntax, missing pages, misprints and misplaced content). Editors are directly responsible to their chief editor for their respective theme/information group. If necessary the editor’s task and responsibility can be further split into sub-profiles.
Chief editors are responsible for their respective content area or theme (main-theme). They sit in the Editorial Board and answer directly to the Board itself and its President.
Chief editors review content to be published and give final approval prior to publication. This implies having a good overview of what is available as well as of what is to be published. It also implies making sure that articles comply with the editorial policy on the one hand and with the political priorities of the Commission on the other.
In some cases the thematic approach may show gaps in the information available or, worse still, may pose the dilemma of what to publish in the presence of controversial or even clashing policies between DGs. In such cases, chief editors have the task of finding compromises and creating a consensus across the administrative boundaries of DGs. It is therefore essential that chief editors have the appropriate degree of authority and that a proper share of their time resources is allocated to the task.
Chief editors also report to the Editorial Board about any problems encountered or suggestions put forward by their editors and content providers.
The site editor is ultimately responsible for the site, belonging to the leading DG and chairing the Editorial Board.
The person responsible for acquiring, editing and managing audiovisual material.
The Editorial Board shapes the editorial policy and thematic approach, manages their implementation and monitors the operation of the content/services supply chain.
The Editorial Board also reviews the structure of the site, notably with respect to the main themes, sub-themes and newsletters and approves (or rejects) amendments to such structure.
The Editorial Board will analyse the results of feedback tools and make decisions regarding the reorientation of the content and service requirements if needed. He/she will also co-ordinate with the horizontal services (Publications Office, DI, etc.) in order to make best use of common methodologies and e-services support functions.
Even if the editorial policy could expand with the experience of all actors involved in the site, final decisions should lie with the Editorial Board. New themes or audience sites should be suggested and approved at the meetings of the Editorial Board. The organisational model, however, should not be too rigid in order to provide for smooth operation across implicated services.
The Editorial Board is chaired by the site editor from the DG “chef de file”, who takes ultimate responsibility for the site.
The core of the Editorial Board is made up by all the chief editors, who are empowered to decide what the site should contain and what should or should not be published.
Senior management delegate
A senior management member (Commissioners’ staff for instance) should be on the Editorial Board. This person would provide input as to the political message and politically sensitive areas of information.
A member of the EUROPA team should be included to ensure co-ordination with existing or new horizontal developments within EUROPA.
A member of the web translation unit from DG Translation should be part of the Editorial Board to give advice on editorial and multilingual issues.
The technical departments of DG Informatics offering the services for content production and dissemination should also be represented within in the Editorial Board. They can advice the board on technical issues or features and their compatibility with technical/operational environment of the portal.
In case use is made of an external contractor, the external project manager should also be allowed to assist to the meetings of the editorial board. When use is made of one of the framework contracts offered by the Publications Office, they should be represented as well.
In parallel with the assignment of responsibilities to the different key actors, a comprehensive overview of the content management workflow and its associated approval procedures must be established.