There are four key issues that apply to most organizations. The following issues can be viewed as a prerequisite to building an effective e-business strategy:
1. Identify measurable business objectives.
2. Define costs and impact.
3. Align IT architecture.
4. Identify value propositions.
Identifying Measurable Business Objectives
Implementing an e-business strategy is a major undertaking. To ensure it is successful, objectives need to be identified in the beginning and measurable goals set. These may include eliminating steps in a business process, reducing errors through paper-based transactions, introducing new market opportunities, or improving information access among managers or departments.
Defining Costs and Impact
The costs of implementing an e-business strategy are measurable in both time and money. Some providers may have lower front-end costs, but the time-to-implement may be so lengthy and complicated that the actual costs are much higher.
The impact on business units must also be anticipated. Introducing an e-business strategy in one department may result in crossover benefits to other operating functions of the organization. For instance, using e-business technologies to reduce routine HR functions frees HR professionals to take a more active role in strategic planning for the organization.
Aligning IT Architecture
Introducing e-business technology across multiple business entities can require a major commitment of IT support. Using an open architecture configuration eliminates this concern because e-business applications are transparent to all major hardware platforms, operating systems, and databases.
Identifying Value Propositions
Finally, implementing an e-business strategy will be a lot smoother if its value is made clear to all potential users. E-procurement applications, for instance, add value at the Purchasing Department level by reducing errors and streamlining processes. At the organizational level, value is added by facilitated group purchasing, which cuts costs. In addition, vendors receive added value because they have faster access to information so they can track invoices and payment. Done right, an e-business strategy is a win-win proposition for all involved.