- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 17, 2003

Don’t Call Me a Webmaster!

Brian Schultz never understood why his job title is “Corporate Webmaster” of University Hospitals in Cleveland. It’s not that he considers the webmaster’s job demeaning. It’s that his job carries more responsibilities than that of the traditional webmaster.

Prior to joining University Hospitals Schultz was an IT (Information Technology) consultant responsible for guiding his clients through the technical and business labyrinth. He was so good at it, he was offered his present job, which was a step up. Whether he knew it or not, he had the right skills to pull it off, not to mention the mental and physical fortitude.

But, what’s all this about being a webmaster?

Actually, Schultz is not a traditional webmaster carrying heavy technical responsibilities. According to Web dictionary “Webopedia,” webmasters have the following responsibilities; Making sure the Web server hardware and software is running properly; Designing Web sites; Creating and updating Web pages; and Replying to user feedback.

On another level, many webmasters enjoyed a renegade image because they held the Web site’s top technical job, says Schultz. They dressed the way they wanted, often set their own hours and enjoyed a good deal of freedom. That’s not true at University Hospitals. There is no crawling into cubicles to work undisturbed. Schultz is part of a massive team. If he fails to play by the rules, and look the part, he’s evicted from his comfortable office.

Schultz knows enough Web site technology to put together the best teams of skilled techies. He sees himself as the next step in the evolution of the modern webmaster. Today, many corporate webmasters are also functioning as project managers, making their jobs complicated. They’re also part of a complex chain of command embracing all managerial levels right up to the CEO. Schultz says his reporting relationships can be touchy, pointing up the importance of understanding corporate culture to avoid making political faux pas.

Schultz reports directly to the director of marketing. “In the past, I would be reporting to the CIO,” he says. “It makes for a smoother and more efficient organization. I quickly realized how important marketing is. It stands at the front line between management and customers.”

Schultz also said companies want project managers who can develop and present organizational development analysis reports. The more you know about organizational design the better.

A project manager working for a large hospital can be likened to being a consultant in a mega-corporation or nonprofit organization. At the moment, Schultz is responsible for bringing hospital information to the hospital’s secure password-protected Intranet. But, a larger site that can be accessed anywhere on the globe is underway so doctors can find medical research reports, white papers, advances in oncology, pediatrics and services, for example. “We’re in the process of creating a virtual Web site that will be updated constantly,” Schultz adds.

Schultz explained that the Web site-building process is broken down into phases in terms of opening up the information. “I’ve taken the project manager’s approach of looking for small successes first,” says Schultz. “Less is more if you are successful. It’s possibility thinking that leads the internal client to the final solution,” he says.

Complicating matters, Schultz must work with “multiple clients,” which include representatives of every major department of his hospital, plus vendors, contractors, and designers.

“Success for the Web site initiative is dependent upon the project manager’s flexibility,” he says. “The Web site must be an extension of the organization’s business plan. To achieve that end, relationships and trust, the foundation upon which things get done, must be built. Even with tight relationships with trusted teams, the responsibilities seem endless.”

Managing the information flow is a constant process often requiring instant decisions. The biggest headache, says Schultz, is creating accurate budgets and not exceeding them. “Ideally, I try to manage massive projects so they come in under budget,” he says. “That’s not a simple chore because there are so many details that must be managed.” Even if he creates a solid budget, there are no guarantees it will be approved.

Ultimately, getting his job done well requires understanding every facet of the organization. Forget about hiding out in that cubicle, although it doesn’t sound like a bad idea at times. Complex organizations have changed that.

• If you have any questions contact Bob Weinstein at [email protected]

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