Getting your business processes online is not an easy job! According to Gartner Group, a renowned research firm, a full 75 percent of all e-business projects fail due to poor planning and unrealistic expectations of new technology. The productivity gains and cost savings promised by e-business solutions are often lost not because of the technology itself but because of improper management of their implementation. In most of the cases, when a massive e-business solution installation goes wrong, the management of the business is to blame. Failure to understand the scale of the project, oversimplification of the project, inappropriate expectations and lack of resource commitment are few of the mistakes made by management that debilitate the implementation and use of the systems.
Pitfalls of E-business solutions installation process
A large distribution company has decided to use a new online supply chain management solution. The people – those who were supposed to use the system – were quite sceptic about the ability of the system, as they did not have enough knowledge and had very little or no training in using a similar system. As a result, it took over a year for the company to bring the solution to its full operation. Productivity suffered severely. The final implementation cost came out to be several times more than initial budget. A large number of companies are reporting to face similar difficulties with the implementation of their e-business solutions.
The problems that occur while a company tries to implement e-business solutions, most likely, include:
Senior managers do not spend enough time and efforts to learn and understand the solutions. As a result, they have no idea how their workers will adapt to this new solution; and fail to set forth quantifiable objectives for them in terms of efficiency and productivity. The end users do not receive required training. As a result, treat the new solution as an added burden rather than a tool to increase efficiency and productivity. In many cases, IT infrastructure is not up-to-date enough and lacks power to support the new solution. Due to inadequate understanding by the management of the e-business solutions that they plan to adopt, often, the time and money allocated to the project are far less than required. Often the advanced Internet based e-business solutions require to be integrated with portion of old systems that the company is presently using, which in turn, sometimes generates software and system incompatibility.
How to avoid pitfalls
E-business solutions are sophisticated systems that encompass significant areas of the company and its relationship with customers. That’s why implementation of these projects should be carried out according to detailed plans.
Create a well developed scope. In creating the scope involve all end-users of the solution, not only the technical and business model experts. Get answers to the questions like:
- What is the single most important goal that the company is planning to reach thanks to this solution? - What critical problems the solution is meant to solve? - Are the time and money spent justifies its implementation? - What are the implementation milestones? - How you will know that you have reached those milestones? - Once you got all the relevant people of the company involved in the process, choose an implementation taskforce of experts from all required sections. This team should be responsible for developing the implementation plan. According to this plan assign resources and deadlines. Upon completion of each stage of implementation get senior management involved in order to review the progress.
Education and Training
Education should cover the “why” side of the solution and training the “how” side.
- Identify the people that required getting trained and educated. - Define objectives
- Define training and education criteria and select syllabus - Set the evaluation method - Conduct the actual learning process - Assess their progress
Implementation of the solution should take place according to the strict predefined stages.
Upon completion of each stage of implementation get senior management involved in reviewing progress. Conduct reality check!
- How does the solution meet your expectations so far? - Is it doing what it’s supposed to do? - Do you need to revise any of your priorities?
Once the implementation is over, set up a thorough post implementation meeting with the taskforce and the relevant end-users. The important thing here is to identify if everybody involved with the project is satisfied with the result or not.
In order to successfully implement e-business solutions, it is very important that you fully understand the technologies behind it. If require hire a consultant and work closely with her. In the long run, this might save you substantial time and money.
Here are other things to remember:
1. E-business solutions are mere tools. Don’t expect them to radically change everything that you learnt about business processes.
2. E-business solution implementations like any other project require strict step by step project management.
3. Before considering an e-business solution, make sure that there is a sound business need to get it. E-marketplace, Private exchange, Business portal are few of the e-business solutions that help you attracting new customers and markets. These solutions also allow streamlining many of the vital business processes. In your e-business strategy these solutions should be at the top of the list.
4. Keep track of the new technologies and keep an eye to your competitors’ e-business strategies. E-business is an extremely fast moving segment; you should be ready for changes and embrace them whenever it’s necessary.