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:


One response to “Online Community Governance: The Project Brief”

  1. extra points :
    1. I ask to seek for points of interest in their demographic, always nice to go for ‘things people do’ and not ‘things that people are’

    2. Hopes AND fears :
    I ask for fears as well.. Since not every person who gets excited ’bout the social web experience understands the dynamics.
    So sometimes I need to adapt to possible fears of the client, sometimes you need to inform the client how to handle his fears in order to build a fullgfledged community..

    I work for ThomasCook Belgium and the whole 2.0 is kinda new to most managers – maybe that’s not the case at your work

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