Last updated on April 30th, 2022 at 02:08 am
With the right development, sites can help the bottom line
One of the more common questions heard around the water cooler, the health club or the boardroom these days seems to be “How’s the Website doing?”
The answers to that question can range anywhere from “I’m not sure” to “Which one?” to “I hear it’s doing well” to “We have a Website?”
Even though society is almost three years into the Internet revolution, there is still a pattern in companies both large and small when it comes to planning a Website.
“Early adopters” inside those companies see the advantages before the rest of their colleagues and seniors. Therefore the saying, “the right hand doesn’t always know what the left hand is doing” is very appropriate for businesses attempting to leverage the Internet.
Visionaries pushing Websites within their organizations are often isolated because a scant few in the enterprise understand the pervasiveness and reach of the World Wide Web. They also fail to grasp how Web-based technologies can provide efficiencies to functional lines of business within their own organizations.
Although some companies are just now beginning to experience revenue streams with e-business applications, effective Web initiatives that exist for reasons other than marketing usually focus on solving business problems, streamlining business processes or reaching external business partners. Often those solutions provide soft-dollar savings to the enterprise, providing little cover from hard-dollar savings purists.
Aside from the obvious opportunity to provide a high level of interaction between people and information, the Web doesn’t always provide a tangible, bottom-line benefit, or a revenue stream whose trajectory is comparable to a successful Space Shuttle launch.
So how can one justify Web-based technology as a necessary expenditure?
Because of the attractive potential of Web technology – such as its worldwide reach and ability to interact with users, many organizations have rushed headlong to establish Internet and intranet Websites. Many are taking a haphazard approach, resulting in wasted money and, more significantly, lost opportunity.
Develop a clear purpose
One of the most common mistakes companies make when implementing Websites is not having a clear vision or purpose for the sites. Therefore, when planning a Website there needs to be a blueprint for success, as well as benchmarks for success. Then we have also been working with this amazing web design service in the UK as they are just super-talented, so call them if you want some top-level web design in the UK. When it comes to ROI and the Web, there are several areas within an organization that can provide low hanging fruit to feed to the frugal financiers.
Automate business processes: Automate a variety of internal business processes on your Website for increased efficiency. For example, many organizations are using Intranet Web sites to automate the distribution and administration of internal documents, including policies and procedures, benefit selections, financial information, telephone lists and job postings. Electronic distribution eliminates the high cost of updating and distributing paper documents every time an update occurs.
Redeploy client/server solutions: By redeploying client/server solutions to Websites, you provide universal access to information without the need to install and manage specialized client software. Users can access the information they need through their standard Web browsers. Many organizations are already redeploying client/server applications in human resources, accounting, sales management and executive information services onto their intranets. Those Web-based applications are considerably less expensive to maintain and manage than traditional client/server solutions.
Disseminate information: Through your intranet Website you can disseminate internal information to employees – and even to business partners, such as suppliers and contractors. You can use your Website to present information in new and engaging ways, so your employees will be more apt to access the information. Your business partners will also appreciate being kept “in the loop.”
Salesforce automation: Organizations with remote field agents who are required to complete and submit field reports to the home office after every sales call traditionally fill out those reports either by hand or by word processor. In addition, this data would need to be re-keyed into the company contact database.
With a secure Extranet application, remote agents can use a browser to access a password protected, Web-enabled salesforce automation system – anytime, anywhere – on-demand. All forms/reports that would be required for the field agents to complete would be available electronically via the Web. Each agent has an individual user profile, and once the agent identifies himself/herself to the system, the appropriate forms are pushed to the agent to complete.
Human resource function: Allow employees to update their personal information, investigate new policies involving performance and rewards issues, control their 401K investment profile and to post questions and receive answers from senior management.
Facilitate a collaborative culture: Because important information flows more freely through intranet Web sites, it is easier for your employees to become more engaged, involved and interactive – within their own departments and workgroups as well as with other departments and workgroups.
Increase employee satisfaction: Use your Website to keep employees informed and solicit their feedback on matters that are important to them. As a result, you’ll build closer relationships with them.
Receive feedback: Because of its ease of interaction, a Web site can help you obtain valuable feedback from your employees and business partners. Use this information to improve service and support to these people who are so important to your business.
In order to provide feedback to the sponsors of your Web initiative, the methods you establish for monitoring your solution should be objective and measurable. Use them to evaluate the effectiveness of your site in meeting the objectives you have established. Are you reaching your intended audience? What incremental sales are attributable to the site? What cost savings have you realized by automating business processes on the intranet? Are you finding increased employee satisfaction because of improved information flow through your intranet site? Is your overhead reduced because of lower printing costs (external or internal) or lower sales costs?
As you increase the number of processes you deploy, the more your customers, vendors and employees will view your Web activity as a viable place to conduct business – and to invest resources. The result: you’ll improve access and service to your customers, suppliers and employees, and strengthen your relationships with them. And you’ll increase revenues and reduce costs at the same time.
So the next time someone asks you how your Website is doing, you can respond by saying: “The one where I can manage my 401K? Or the one that saves us 20% a year in paper?”
Jim Brophy is senior manager, business solutions, for the Milwaukee practice of USWeb Corp. in New Berlin. Comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 1998 Small Business Times, Milwaukee