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A Practical Guide to Planning for E-Business Success 10


9
PHASE 7—DELIVER
“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” Benjamin Disraeli The seventh phase of the e-business planning process is to Deliver. As shown in Figure 9.1, in this phase, you will develop the e-business functionality and environment, test, train, and ?nally implement. You will then promote the new e-business functionality.

DEVELOP
Although the Internet changes everything, it is still important to follow solid development practices. Good project management is a prerequisite for success. The e-business project is no different from other projects for the organization. The CHAOS study by the Standish Group, which is often cited, found that only 26% of projects were successful.* We need to focus on ?nding ways to consistently enable good people to deliver quality solutions on time and within budget. As with any project, it is the job of the project manager to understand the true status of a project, identify and solve any problems as early as possible. Many times, information systems people are optimists, planning that no issues will arise, or because it is technically possible it will be implemented quickly. Good project management techniques and principles are required for e-business projects even more so than traditional information systems projects because time is of the essence. Projects cannot afford to wallow around in a 90% completed status for months
* “Will Your Project Survive?” CIO Magazine, Section 1, February 15, 1999, p. 42. 171

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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Figure 9.1 Phase 7, Deliver

on end. The following are project management and development tips and techniques: Ensure the project team is a solid high-performing and wellfunctioning team. If not, obtain assistance for training or to add resources to the team. Clearly identify roles and responsibilities of the project and assign to team members. Ensure resources stay committed to the project at the level anticipated throughout the life of the project. Make sure the business requirements and customer needs are understood by everyone. Technology is not an end; it is a means to an end. Don’t sacri?ce quality; sacri?ce scope. E-business projects must get to market quickly. Learn and adjust. Maintaining quality is crucial, even more so than internal software as it will impact the customer directly. If necessary, break the project into phases to keep the scope manageable. Keep the scope realistic and managed. Changes must be controlled. As with any project, e-business projects are constrained and have trade-offs of time, cost, and quality. You can only ?x or constrain two of the three. If you drive the team to a rigid cost and time, quality will suffer. If you have a set quality and cost, time will suffer. If you have a set time and quality, cost will suffer. Manage and communicate the risks. Use a project methodology to ensure the project stays on track and within budget. It doesn’t matter particularly which methodology is used; just use one methodology consistently.

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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Each project should have a documented project plan with a schedule, identi?ed team, and documented responsibilities. Each e-business project should be planned with small deliverable tasks. Each task should have one person responsible with a planned deliver date. Make deadlines aggressive, but not unrealistic. The project plan must consider training and process changes that will be necessary. Consider integration issues to back of?ce and front of?ce systems. Ensure that communication is frequent, open, and honest throughout the project team, business, and management. Frequently review the status of each task. Ask direct questions and don’t allow vague answers. Weekly project management meetings are recommended to review the previous week’s deliverables and discuss the deliverables for the next week. Team meetings should be documented. Any issues should be documented and acted upon. Use technology that is proven. If it is new, do a proof of concept before beginning a project. Whenever possible, utilize vendor-supplied packages rather than writing custom software. Model or prototype software whenever possible. This will ensure the development is on track. Use an iterative, incremental approach to application development. Have frequent release cycles. Whenever possible, use objects or re-useable code that has been tested. Use a source code peer-review process. Complete post-project reviews to analyze if the business bene?ts were achieved. Risk management must be part of the entire design and development process. Trade-offs will continually be made between security, ease-of use, availability, speed to market, quality, performance, and openness. Strike a balance between risk and value. Risk assessment methodologies provide some guidance to making sound e-business trade-off decisions. Consider building multiple Web sites, possibly for different lines of business or different groups of customers to limit the impact of issues. Partition functionality for scalability.

TEST
Testing is critical, particularly as systems are now directly in front of customers. Murphy’s Law applies to e-business ventures just like other information systems projects. A poorly tested system can result in bad publicity and unhappy customers, and can even impact the stock. Don’t short-cut

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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the testing process to get the system to market. Test, test, and test some more. Be sure to do a pilot test as well as a stress test. Before doing the pilot or stress test, de?ne acceptable metrics so it is known how success and failure will be measured and judged. The following questions will help check your testing: Were all the business processes tested? Were connectivity issues tested? Were all the locations tested? Were any ?xes tested? Was testing performed on different clients and different hardware? Were different browsers and browser releases (Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, etc.) tested? Were different resolutions (640 ? 480, 800 ? 600, and 1024 ? 768) tested? Were different color depths (256, 16-bit, 24-bit) tested? Were different operating systems (Windows releases, Mac releases) tested? Were different connection speeds (14.4 KB, 56 KB) tested? Was security tested? Was a stress test completed? Was the contingency plan tested?

TRAIN
Do not underestimate the training necessary for your e-business efforts to be a success. E-business projects often involve signi?cant changes for the organization, including process changes, changes in responsibilities, and changes in technology. If the human aspects of any change are overlooked, the most technically pro?cient solution can be a failure. Consider the following questions: Have all the individuals involved in the new business processes been identi?ed? Do all the individuals understand their new roles, expectations, and the metrics upon which they will be measured? Do all the individuals understand the business direction and priorities and what they mean to them and their jobs? Have all the individuals been trained in the new business process? Have all the individuals been trained in the new technology? Have the Information Systems individuals been trained properly in the new technology?

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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Have the Information Systems individuals been trained properly in the new processes? Have any organization changes been communicated to the individuals impacted as well as the organization? Have procedures and documentation been updated for employees to reference? Do you have the acceptance, involvement, and commitment of the organization to make e-business successful?

IMPLEMENT
How exciting that the e-business functionality is ready for implementation! However, this stage must also be accomplished with care. Typically a phased implementation is a good idea so that pieces can be tested in production. If possible, implement well before a major promotion so the site can be tested with normal loads before experiencing heavy spikes. Don’t underestimate the training necessary and the impact of the business process changes. Consider the following questions: Who will respond to questions that are submitted? What is the process? How quickly will questions be responded to? Who will respond to requests for literature and additional information? What is the process? How quickly will requests be responded to? Who will follow up leads for potential sales? Who will compile the information received on registration forms and update customer ?les? What will the information be used for? Is all the information present that is required? What are the disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan? Have they been tested? Does the culture support the business objectives of customer satisfaction? Has the organization invested in proactive capacity planning and change simulation tools? Has the organization invested in real-time availability and performance management tools? As volume cannot be predicted, is excess capacity maintained? Is load balancing in place with the ability to add more capacity as needed? Has the architecture been planned to enable scheduled downtime for portions of the system while minimizing overall impact? Is there no single point of failure, including the technical architecture, applications, people, or processes? Has redundancy been designed?

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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PROMOTE
Do not expect customers just to ?nd the site; it must be promoted. With 235,000 sites added each month, the organization must ensure its Internet presence receives the exposure necessary for a successful launch. The company must develop a marketing strategy that is consistent with the brand and image. IMT Strategies identi?ed how people get to sites: Search engines 43.5% Word of mouth 20.2% Random sur?ng 19.9% E-mail messages 8.6% By accident 2.1% Publications 1.4% Web browser 1.0% Don’t know 0.7% Radio 0.4% Other 0.8% If the organization wants people to ?nd its site, it must show up near the top of the major search engines. Position the site favorably on search engines (www.webposition.com, www.goto.com). A good resource for search engines is www.searchenginewatch.com. Each search engine has different characteristics and different requirements. Learn and adhere to the criteria for the major search engines. Increasing the relevancy of the site in search engines can be done by: Using a descriptive and enticing title for each page with key phrases of 5 to 8 words that will show up in search engine results. Incorporating key phrases into the description, as well as any other important words. Placing the description on top of the Web page between header tags. Titling each page appropriately and descriptively rather than putting the same title on all pages. Titles should be high on the page. Tables, columns, and JavaScript push text further down the page, making keywords less relevant. Using meta tags that are special text in the <HEAD> section of a Web page. They are read by search engines and are used to ?gure out what is most important. Usually only the ?rst 75 to 150 characters will be displayed. Ensuring the meta tags are relevant to the content. Consider common misspellings. Avoiding excessive repeating of any particular word in the meta keywords tag as that could actually downgrade the page.

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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Having good content. Having visible HTML text on the page, not just graphics, because search engines cannot read graphics. Having other sites linking to the site. Having HTML hyperlinks to the home page that lead to major sections of the Web site. A search engine may not be able to follow image map links and may miss some valuable descriptions. Having good links internally between pages will help. Suggesting the proper category and subcategory when submitting the Web site. Having a site map page with text links to everything in the Web site. This can be submitted to help search engines locate pages. Following speci?c submission rules for each site. Avoiding symbols in the URLs as some search engines have dif?culty with symbols such as the “?”. Regularly reviewing search engine placement and those of competitors. Avoiding spamming search engines as they can be detected and penalized. Submit to many different search engines. As there are over 1,000 search engines, and the number continues to grow, focus on those most popular. Some of the search engines are: AltaVista (www.altavista.com) AOL Search (www.search.aol.com) AskJeeves (www.askjeeves.com) Directhit (www.directhit.com) Dogpile (www.dogpile.com) Excite (www.excite.com) Fastsearch (www.alltheweb.com) Google (www.google.com) GoTo (www.goto.com) HotBot (www.hotbot.com) Infoseek (www.infoseek.com) Iwon (www.iwon.com) LookSmart (www.looksmart.com) Lycos (www.lycos.com) MSN Search (www.search.msn.com) NBCi (www.nbci.com) Netscape (www.netscape.com) Northern Light (www.northernlight.com) WebCrawler (www.webcrawler.com) Yahoo (www.yahoo.com)

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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Consider using submission services such as www.submitit.linkexchange.com, www.netcreations.com/postmaster, or www.all4one.com/ all4submit. These services will automatically submit your site to many of the search engines. Additional promotion possibilities include: Put the URL everywhere: on all marketing literature, presentations, business cards, brochures, e-mail signatures, invoices, communications, annual report, letters, news releases, radio ads, television ads, directories, voice mail, side of van, side of building. Add the URL to the voice mail system as an option for customers. Leverage alliances by cross promotions and links. Try to get or purchase links from industry sites. Find complementary Web sites and try to establish reciprocal links. Begin an af?liate program that has a ?nancial stake in promoting your site (www.cj.com, www.af?liatezone.com). Try joining an e-mall service (such as Yahoo). Promote the site in mailing lists and news groups (use www.dejanews.com to ?nd sources). Join a banner exchange program (such as http://www.linkexchange. com, http://bannertips.com/exchangenetworks.shtml) or purchase banner advertising. Purchase advertising in e-mail newsletters. Rent targeted e-mail lists, but avoid sending bulk untargeted and unsolicited e-mail. Prepare a handout, mailing insert, and e-mail announcement to promote the Web site. Make media announcements. Also consider promotion when designing the site. Give visitors a reason to come back to the site. The following are some design possibilities: Try to capture visitor e-mail address and request permission to send updates or newsletters. Ask only for information that is really needed or those contacted will not provide any information. Offer special promotions, coupons, and discounts through proactive e-mail messages. Various software packages will take customer information from a database and merge it into e-mails include: — Microsoft Of?ce 2000 (www.microsoft.com) — MessageMedia MailKing (www.mailking.com) — MailWorkz Bro@dcast (www.mailworkz.com) — ArialSoft Campaign 2000 (www.arialsoftware.com) — Cory Rudl’s Mailloop (www.marketingtips.com) — Gammadyne Mailer (www.gammadyne.com)

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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Think about offering something free or having a contest on the site to entice visitors. Ask visitors to bookmark the site, which makes it easy to return. Use marketing promotion techniques to help visitors spread the word about the site. For example, offer free e-mail service or a discount if they e-mail the site to a friend. Make sure that someone within the organization has the responsibility for promotion and marketing, as it must be an ongoing task.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
Solid development practices and good project management are prerequisites for e-business success. Don’t sacri?ce quality; sacri?ce scope. Get to market fast; learn and adjust. Understand trade-offs of time, cost, and quality. Risk management should be part of the development process. Use a project methodology with project plans, small deliverable efforts, assigned responsibilities, and delivery dates. Don’t short-cut the testing process to get to market quicker. Test, test, and test some more. Don’t underestimate the training necessary and the impact of the business process changes during implementation. The e-business site and functionality must be proactively promoted.

? 2002 by CRC Press LLC

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NOTES FOR MY E-BUSINESS EFFORT
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? 2002 by CRC Press LLC


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