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Governance of Online Systems

The Context

What happens to your team’s sticks, costume, musical instruments, banners and financial assets if your team folds? You should be able to answer this as it should be addressed in your team’s constitution or the advice provided by the Morris Federation’s Members’ Manual which states:

It is worthwhile putting some thoughts at an early stage into what happens to the assets of the side of the side either folds through lack of numbers or there is an irretrievable split in the side so that it breaks into two groups”.

The need for advance planning is also the case for the management of your team’s digital assets – indeed, this is perhaps more important, as management of usernames and passwords will be needed if responsibilities change and not just on the rare occasions when a team folds.

A Governance Framework for Assessment and Minimisation of Risks

This document summarises some of the issues associated with risks of loss of access to digital assets, and the steps needed to minimise such risks.

Audit your digital assets: The first step should be to carry out an audit of your digital assets. There will be some obvious assets (many teams will have a website and a Facebook profile) but there may also be less well-used services (e.g. video and images sharing services; audio sharing or communication and marketing tools such as Twitter). 

In addition to end-user facing services, there may also be services used to support these services (usage metrics services; voting service; alerting tools; etc. which may be more easily forgotten). 

There may be services used by your IT-literate team members, including important ones such as your team website domain name and content management service. 

And there may be services provided for use by members of your team, such as an Intranet; mailing lists; WhatsApp groups; etc. 

There will also be the externally-provided services which contain information about your team. This will include the Morris Federation’s Teamfinder service but also morris-related maps, databases and similar services run by volunteers.

Audit access mechanisms for your digital assets: You’ve now got a list of your digital assets. But you won’t be able to manage the content unless you have a username and password. So you’ll need to ensure that you have a record of this information – and also know what to do if you forget the information. 

Identify the risks: It may be useful to ‘stress-test’ the risks to your digital assets by documenting worst-case scenarios and your responses to the scenarios. To illustrate this approach consider the scenario:

Catastrophe strikes: Our IT guru has won the lottery and has gone off on a round-the-world cruise.  We won’t be able to contact her for a year! (Note other types of catastrophes could happen!)

Risk Minimisation Notes
Inability to post Facebook / Twitter updates Have multiple people with admin accounts This should be easily addressed
Need for Website maintenance Provide documentation on IT aspects (e.g. security updates) as well as content management If your team has limited IT expertise it may be advisable to have a simple website or host key content elsewhere
Management of DNS Ensure several people know when DNS fees need to be paid If you have a popular website and you fail to renew DNS it could be taken over by a gaming site (this has happened)

Minimise the risks: Having a single point of failure is always a risk, even if good things happen (“can’t update the website as I’m spending time with my children/grandchildren”) so teams should always ensure that a number of people can access IT systems. In addition to having access it can also be important to document how the IT systems are used, especially if there are dependencies across multiple systems (e.g. “If you upload a video to this system, a message is automatically sent to this service”). 

Have backups: Ensure you have backups for key resources. Note that if you wish to have an archive of your team’s history, you should ensure your team’s website is automatically archived on the British Library’s Web Archive and the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine.

Develop policies: Ideally policies will be agreed at a team’s AGM to ensure that audits of digital assets are updated and risk registers are maintained and reported on (say at the AGM or before the start of a dance season).

Status of this Document

Document created: 1 Aug 2021
Document updated: 17 Sep 2021 (CC-BY image added)

Licence for this Document

This document is available with a Creative Commons Sharealike (CC-BY) licence. In brief, this means you can copy and make changes to this document provided you give acknowledgements to the author/publisher. A suggested wording for acknowledgements is:

This document is based on the "Governance of Online Systems" document by Brian Kelly, Comms and IT volunter with the Morris Federation.  


About the Author

Brian Kelly joined the Newcastle Kingsmen in 1978 and for many years was a prize-winning Betty for them. He has also danced with Sallyport Sword Dancers, Northgate Rapper and Wyld Morris as well as the now-defunct Green Ginger Morris, Phoenix Sword and Black Cap sides. He is currently a dancer with Haymarket Rapper.

Brian help set up a website for the University of Leeds in January 1993 – one of the first 100 websites in the world. During most of his professional career he was a national web adviser to UK Universities.

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