Four Key Elements for an E-ready Organization

implement and benefit from new technologies such as e-business, it is essential that the people (who are the ultimate users of the technology) and the process are given due consideration. The technology within the company also needs to be assessed in order to ensure that the company has the necessary infrastructure (ICT infrastructure) to use existing and new or emerging technologies successfully. Further, the company needs clear leadership and direction that is provided by the management in order to successfully implement the technology. These four categories are described in detail below.

4 key elements for an e-ready organization

4 key elements for an e-ready organization

Management

Management is an important factor that leads and governs the adoption, implementation and use of technology within organizations through the careful orchestration of business strategies in order to derive definite business benefits. This can be achieved by defining specific business strategies for technology adoption and by ensuring that adequate resources are available in terms of funds, time and man-power.
Management buy-in as an important aspect that can influence the successful implementation and adoption of technology/technologies within a construction organization. Senior managers can authorize investigations
into all aspects of current activities to identify areas where improvements can be achieved by changing to new e-business-based systems.
However, management should endorse the technology only after investigating the technology for its overall capability and scope. It should examine whether the technology has been successfully used in construction or other industries before, including technology reviews (favorable or otherwise). In the absence of such reviews, it is worthwhile identifying and investigating the possible risks and taking adequate measures for minimizing the risks and maximizing the rewards.

The adoption of technology will bring about change, and management needs to carefully consider different aspects of how this change will be brought about and managed. These aspects are highlighted in Figure 4.3.
If the management takes into account these aspects of change management, it is more likely than not that the business will be favorably geared towards (or ready for) adopting and implementing e-business.
However, it is important that the senior management does not loose sight of its ultimate vision and aim in using the technology (e.g. to derive business benefits). To quote Paul Nitze, a famous American diplomat and strategist, ‘One of the most dangerous forms of human error is forgetting what one is trying to achieve’. In business terms this can have
dire consequences.

Aspects of change management (Figure 4.3)

Aspects of change management (Figure 4.3)

Process

Process means a practice, a series of actions, done for a specific purpose. It also includes the working rules, ethics and procedures, within and between organizations. It is important to consider the process factor as the adoption of new technology will directly affect an organization’s processes and vice-versa. Therefore, companies will need to ensure
that the new technology either complements their existing processes or that the existing processes are flexible enough to accommodate the technology.
In order to maximize the benefits from technology adoption (e.g. increased transparency, reduced response time and improved integration of activities across the supply chain), organizations need to examine and map their existing processes. This will help in identifying the bottlenecks and devising measures to remove such bottlenecks or process inefficiencies.
The process-related change that technology can bring about is fourfold:

  1. Process automation, which is the most common form of change where organizations use computers to speed up the performance and efficiency of existing tasks and functions.
  2. Rationalization of procedures, which involves the streamlining of standard operating procedures, eliminating obvious bottlenecks, so that automation makes operating procedures more efficient.
  3. Business process re-engineering, which is a powerful form of organizational change in which business processes are analysed, simplified and redesigned.
  4. Paradigm shift, which involves rethinking the nature of the business and the nature of the organization itself.

Process change of any nature carries its own rewards and risks. Process automation and rationalization of procedures
are relatively slow-moving and slow-changing business strategies that present modest returns, involving lower risks. The much faster and more comprehensive change is brought about by process re-engineering and paradigm shifts carry higher rewards and risks.

People

The people factor accounts for the social and cultural aspects related to the people within an organization. It takes into account the attitudes, outlook, and feelings of staff within an organization towards change brought about by technology adoption. People make organizations and are important to its success. No matter how carefully the management has geared the business to successfully adopt new technology, it is less likely to succeed
to its full potential, if the people are not ready. The people, who are the ultimate users of the technology, need to have the appropriate skills and competency, functional expertise, the right attitudes, a positive mindset and the culture to adapt and adopt.
The people factor is important and can affect an organization’s overall e-readiness, because the introduction of any new technology (hence change) will affect the workforce within that organization. It is therefore necessary to assess the organizational culture and the readiness of company staff (people) in accepting new and innovative technologies such as e-business. It is also important to ascertain whether the organizational structure provides an appropriate environment for e-business adoption and use. According to Ostroff (1999), the horizontal organization is well
suited for the information age. Such horizontal structures allow for greater flexibility in dealing with today’s competitive and rapidly changing business environment.

Through the use of e-business tools, projects can be managed in an open environment with more transparency between different members of the team. For an organization in which such an open culture already exists, the likelihood of a ‘culture shock’ is reduced and therefore the change is less likely to be met with any resistance. However,
for those organizations in which there traditionally exists a culture of secrecy and privacy, the people factor may be more of an issue that needs addressing.

Technology

The final category to consider is technology. The technology factor covers all aspects related to IT (information technology) and communications technologies (e.9. Internet technology), which include both the hardware
and software usage and its availability within a company, department or work group. Also important are the aspects related to the performance of the technology – thus, even if the technology infrastructure is adequate and available, it is of little or no consequence, if it cannot efficiently perform the required functions. For example, an end-user company may have a computer linked to the Internet, but still cannot send large files (e.g. CAD drawings) because the system is not equipped to handle such tasks. The problem in this case is not just confined to that individual company.
This is mainly because, technologies such as e-business allow project teams to communicate and exchange data in a collaborative electronic environment.

Thus, even if one company in the chain is ill-equipped, it has adverse effects on the entire chain. Civen that’a chain is only as strong as its weakest link’, it is an important technology issue that needs to be considered for assessing e-readiness.

Technology is capable of coordinating dif{erent activities within and across organizations and also across industries. With the help of technology, companies can reduce transaction and document processing costs and time. Processes can be made more efficient and streamlined by removing the obvious bottlenecks.

All these benefits, however, cannot be realized if an adequate technology infrastructure is not in place and available to the people in an organization, who are the ultimate end-users. Organizations that aim to use e-business should, as a minimum, be equipped with the basic infrastructure necessary for its operation. Since e-business enables the seamless and electronic exchange of knowledge, sharing and editing of documents, revision of reports or publications, within or between work groups any previous experience in using collaborative tools (e.9. electronic document management (EDM), Groupware) is useful. This is especially vital, given that the findings of the case studies suggest that for companies with experience in using applications such as EDM and Groupware, it is easier to migrate to the
next level that is Web-based collaboration tools.

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