Online Stores Disadvantages

Creating a website and register a company for online sales of items and products will be easy but responsibility of this business is not easy as it looks at the first time. main goal of an online store is not establishing it and reach customers between competitors, the final goal is offer services and products as you announced on site else customers will complain from you to judges and that will be start of problem for you.

For example, you decided to sell spare parts of cars online to world wide, so that you should find real solutions for its steps as below:

  1. Advertisement of  site
  2. List of available spare parts (Fake list will put you in bad problem when customer ordered it and you could not provide it)
  3. Packaging of items (Bad packaging will cause damaged effects on items)
  4. Shipment methods  (Select a bad shipment methods will cause high charges and long time transport )
  5. Warranty of items if they will not work after delivery to customers

therefore you see the most duties are after sales and very important 

Online Sales vs Street Shops

When you have a shop in the street, your customers will come in shop and check items or goods and after a short consideration they will buy them or not. so that customer before delivery will check healthiness of item but in online sales, customer will check it after delivery and if that customer will be admire quality of order , it will be send back on the charges on your behalf. sometimes charges of freight are more that 3 times of item costs !!

Privacy in e Business

The collection of information and data about people is a characteristic of e-business transactions. e-Business marketplaces and portals derive value from data mining activities. Construction companies engaged in e-business will have to manage multiple risks relating to privacy; some relate to personal privacy concerns about their own firms, and others relate to concerns about infringement.
Construction companies wanting to engage in e-business transactions have to give away some information about the company for the purposes of authentication, and attribution; the question is how much information?

Online portals and marketplaces collect more information than is needed for legally authenticating an e-contracting party. They collect information through user registration forms, cookies and track companies’ ‘bidding behavior’. Who owns this information? Does the information collection process violate any privacy laws? This data mining operation presents a potential risk for construction companies engaging in e-business.

Privacy of google search engine

For risks relating to infringement, consider the case of a contractor  engaging in e-procurement activities. The contractor keeps information about potential suppliers on the company IT system. It legitimately
uses this information to select appropriate bidders. To aid future estimating operations, the contractor records all historical bids on all suppliers who previously electronically bid for projects on its e-procurement system.
The historical database includes supplier information, historical bid prices, financial performance collected from pre-qualification forms, safety performance, comments about the supplier performance on previous projects, amongst other information. As a result of a security breach, or a virus, the contractor realizes that the information ended up with a third party – other than the contractor and suppliers. The contractor is liable to the supplier for the loss of information and distribution to other parties and the damages to the supplier that could ensue as a result of
this loss.

Variation

Another variation to the same risk relates to using online marketplaces. An owner or a contractor places a Request for Proposals on one of the online marketplaces owned by a third party. Suppliers bid on the project
after entering information about their respective companies. The third party, owner and operator or the marketplace, have a security breach in which other people had access to stored information about this project
mistakenly. Though common sense indicates that the third party should be liable, the contractor or owner may realize that they signed a ‘click through’ agreement that limits the third party’s liability to such instances;
a bad situation to be in.

Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is a legal term describing which law is in effect at a given period of time and which court’s decisions will be legally binding. jurisdiction issues arise when parties dispute a contract and try to decide which court has jurisdiction over it. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that in an e-business contract, the question of where the contract was formed becomes daunting.

Jurisdiction benefit in e business

The outcome of the dispute can differ materially if judged under a different set of rules, regulations and laws (Rowe, 1998).
The global reach of the Internet adds yet another layer of complexity:
determining jurisdiction over contracts with international elements.

The key issue of jurisdiction can be simply explained by comparing the spatial distinction of the legal world to the border-less nature of the Internet. The Internet empowers people to engage in e-business activities regardless
of geographical boundaries. In contrast, most of the laws governing contractual relationships, specifically those relating to Construction Law, are limited in one way or another to a certain geographical boundary.
One risk arising from the issue of jurisdiction is unanticipated foreign lawsuits. Foreign in this context means a different state or country. Although the laws regulating e-business vary, the general opinion of the courts imply
that companies engaged in activities or online advertising may have to defend lawsuits in different jurisdictions if those activities violate the local laws (Thelen Reid & Priest LLP, 1997).

location of Thelen Reid & Priest LLP in USA

Link of external Resource about Thelen Reid & Priest LLP

This may very well affect construction companies participating in e-business activities over the Internet, especially in areas such as intellectual property rights and distribution rights.
Companies with local or regional trademarks may find themselves infringing upon others’ trademarks when they advertise their products online. Advertising products on the Internet or engaging in e-business over
the Internet makes the product accessible globally and is not limited geographically, as trademarks are (Thelen Reid & Priest LLP). Similarly, there is a distinction between geographically based (local and regional) distribution
rights and distribution over the Internet through e-business activities.
Distribution of construction materials or products may have only local or regional distribution rights. Would e-business activity constitute a breach if the distribution rights of both the seller and the buyer are within the geographical boundaries? How about if the seller is within the geographical boundaries of the distribution rights and the buyer is outside; or vice versa?

Jurisdiction risks

  • A company can fail to protect its legal rights due to lack of familiarity with a foreign jurisdiction’s
    procedures or, in case of a dispute, where the parties disputing cannot agree on which court has jurisdiction. This is illustrated in the following example:

Jurisdiction example

Consider the case of an Architect, working out of California, employing an Engineering Consulting firm, working out of New York, for the design of a specialty component of a project in Michigan. The Architect and Consulting firm engage in an e-contract and they never physically meet; collaboration and submission of work is completed online. During construction it was discovered that the Consulting firm’s design was faulty and did not meet the Michigan code. The Architect deducts the value of the change from the firm’s pay, the firm is opposed to this and stops
working; a dispute arises.

The question is: which state law has jurisdiction over this dispute?

The issue of jurisdiction in this example may be even more challenging if the error was discovered after construction was complete and the different states involved have differing statutes of limitations and/ or statutes of repose. Enabled by online project collaboration systems, and e-business tools, the probability of occurrence of this risk is
on the rise. The situation is further compounded on global construction projects that involve team members from several countries.

Some of the jurisdiction risks can be avoided by adding choice of law, choice of forum, or arbitration clauses (Thelen Reid & Priest LLP).
Many risks, however, still exist even when such clauses are made part of the agreement. It is also important to note that not all choice of law and choice of forum provisions are enforced by courts (Gallagher, 2000). Is it a possibility that e-business solutions could be programmed to include those provisions and intelligent agents could be made to distinguish between those provisions that are enforceable and those that are not.

Types of legal risks

The legal risks of conducting business online change every day as new technologies are introduced to the market. These technologies pose important problems to legislators that need quick and effective solutions.
The difference between the rates at which e-business technology develops to the rate at which legal framework and rules develop is substantial.

legal risks in ebusiness construction
Legal risks have not been studied in relation to construction e-business.
These risks are identified and discussed in the following sections.

Classified Risks

  • contract formation
  • validity and errors
  • jurisdiction, privacy, authentication, attribution, non-repudiation and agency.

Legal issues

The hype for e-business in the construction industry is now over. With industry players already embracing the change, many are now shifting their focus towards the impact, or non-impact, that e-business has left
in their businesses. e-Business applications in the construction industry are poised for restructuring as industry players have recognized that e-business will re-intermediate existing market relations, disrupting some
and driving new efficiency in others, therefore the focus in the next era should on restructuring tasks.

Legal Issues in ebusiness
Despite predictions about the success of e-business in construction and how it could change the construction industry, the industry is still struggling with e-business applications. Indeed, the adoption by the construction industry of e-business applications and IT in general has been sluggish but steady. The industry should now be concerned with the readiness for the next phase of e-business implementation; a phase that will involve many more players than the innovators and early adopters.

The question of how much value e-business can add to construction operations has been studied in numerous works. The need for legally binding e-contracts in construction applications have been noted. More importantly, the link between the existence of quality legal rules for regulating e-business and the amount of e-business revenue has been established. It has been shown that quality legal rules and enforcement are ‘significantly and positively’ associated with e-business revenues. It is also documented that, if and where a legally binding e-collaboration and e-business system is established in construction projects, the utilization of such a system increases noticeably.
As such, the identification and analysis of e-construction legal risks, coupled with the incorporation of the legal dimension in programming e-business tools can radically improve the utilization of e-business in construction and significantly improve the trust and confidence of the industry in e-business.

There is a gap, however, in the current literature regarding the specific legal risks related to electronic commerce in construction. This chapter attempts to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive analysis of those legal risks.

Types of Legal Risks

Jurisdiction

e-Business lnfrastructure

Early e-business applications in the construction industry were built around focused and narrow processes such as oniine blue rooms and online project management and collaboration portals. It was estimated that US$2.5 billion has been spent in capital investments, in the United States only, by Application Service Providers creating project
management and collaboration portals alone.

eBusiness infrastructure

Despite the large IT investments completed over the past years, the productivity for many Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) companies has been flat or has declined in the same period.
For the construction industry to reap the benefits of such investments, it must equally invest in improving its e-business infrastructure to support the cross-industry deployment and improve its benefit realization rates. Dramatic improvement in industry performance requires equally dramatic changes to business processes and management practices, and, more importantly, a strong infrastructure to support these changes.

e-Business infrastructure extends beyond the physical hardware and routers that support the network connections enabling e-business transactions. e-Business infrastructure is interdisciplinary in nature; it involves business process, trading models, network hardware and software infrastructure, software inter operability standards, Iegal standards, and more.

The ultimate value that the industry can derive from e-business will be reached when those disciplines and standards are aligned in an integrated construction e-business infrastructure. This chapter proposes a framework for the integrated construction e-business infrastructure.
It introduces the components of the integrated infrastructure and builds a case for the importance of coordinating the components with each other.

Verdict: System Architecture and Operation

System architecture

Verdict is built around a three-tier architecture model, which comprises the following:

  1. The client tier
  2. The middle tier
  3. The database tier

At the top level of the model is the client tier, which includes the Web browser software that interacts with the
Verdict application. In between the top and bottom tiers is the middle tier, which communicates data to and from the client and database tiers.

The middle tier is more complex and contains most of the application logic. The Web server, the scripting engine and the scripts reside in this tier. The base tier of the Verdict application is the datsbase tier, which is made up of a database management system (DBMS) that manages the data that is created, added, modified, deleted and/or requested by the end-userA.
VERDICT has been developed using PHP as the scripting language. PHP is an open source, server-side, HTML embedded scripting language used to create dynamic Web pages. It is compatible with many types of databases. The front-end of the VERDICT prototype is designed using Macromedia Dreamweaver and Fireworks (for graphics).

Three-tier architecture of verdict
Figure 4.4 Three-tier architecture of verdict

The application mainly consists of a series of Web-based questionnaire forms that can be accessed by the end-user/s using standard Web browsers such as MS Internet Explorer and Netscape. Any information that is added to these forms (i.e. end-user responses) is stored in the MySQL database. MySQL is an open source RDBMS2 (relational
database management system) that can run on UNIX, Windows and Mac operating systems. It has become a popular alternative to proprietary database systems because of its economy, speed and reliability. The VERDICT system resides on a server with which the end-user communicates. This forms the core of the middle tier.

Operation

Any requests made by the end-users are communicated via the Web server. This action invokes the PHP script code embedded in the Web page to request and retrieve the data from the MySQL database. This data, returned by the MySQL database, is then processed by the PHP script. The processed data is then presented to the end-user on a Web page. A high level view of this process, which includes the operations and the system architecture of the VERDICT application are illustrated in below photo

Operations of VERDICT
Figure 4.5
Operations of VERDICT

End-user companies only require a computer and an Internet connection to access and operate the tool. The performance of the tool will depend on the speed of the Internet connection and the version-type of the operating systems. For example, end-user companies with broadband connections will be able to access the site and process information faster than those with dial-up connections.

The next section describes the actual working of the VERDICT software using an end-user case study.

Verdict Implementation

The VERDICT application consists of a series of judgement statements which fall into the four categories of management, process, people and technology.

The end-users may either agree or disagree with these statements, to varying degrees. Verdict relies on the judgement of the respondent (i.e. end-user) as to whether or not he/she agrees with the statement/s in the context of their organization, department or group. The respondent(s) need to ensure that their responses are consistent with their
assumptions for example if the responses are in the context of the department (and not the organization), then that assumption must be consistently reflected throughout.

The extent to which the respondent agrees or disagrees with the statement is graded on a scale of 1-5, where

  1. Strongly Disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Neutral
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly Agree.

A’don’t know’ option is also included (where don’t know – 0 score). The questions/statements are so orchestrated that a response of strongly agree will generate the highest score of 5 points.

An average score is calculated for each category. The higher the average score the more likely it is that the end-user company is ‘e-ready’. Respondents are required to answer all questions for a meaningful outcome. Once all the questions are completed the end-users are presented with a final verdict with respect to their e-readiness in the form of reports, which include textual and graphical data.

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.

VERDICT

VERDICT is an Internet-based prototype application that assesses the overall e-readiness of end-user companies and profiles the companies in this regard, based on their responses. The name, ‘VERDICT’ reflects the overall aim and purpose of the application. VERDICT is developed to aid construction sector end-users to gauge their e-readiness for using e-business technologies such as Web-based collaboration tools. It can be used to assess the e-readiness o{ construction companies, department(s) within a company or even individual work-groups within a department.

VERDICT Model

Several research publications and articles indicate that people, processes and technology are the three key aspects that need to be considered for successful implementation of technologies. Emmett (2002) siates that together these three elements create business value. However, he further states that ‘the people, processes and technology need a leader’, just as ‘an orchestra needs a conductor‘. Emmett draws a parallel with the performance of an orchestra and states:
‘in an orchestra …. You’ve got musicians (people), musical scores (process), and musical instruments (technology). But without a conductor, they’re more likely to produce noise than music. Even if everyone in the string section plays the right notes at a relatively similar tempo, creating a symphony requires more than following the sheet music.’
Therefore ‘…. An orchestra needs a conductor’. The same analogy can be applied to the adoption and implementation
of new and innovative technologies within construction companies. The ‘conductor’ in this case is the management. To successfully implement and use any new technology it requires management buy-in and belief in order to plan and drive policies and strategies. The research findings from an industry-wide survey and case studies, complement this view.

The case study findings identified management buy-in and leadership as a critical factor affecting the adoption of technology within construction organizations. The adoption of any new and innovative technology (e.g. e-business, e-commerce) within an organization/department/work-group requires total commitment from the management (or group leader). It is important for the management to buy into the technology to lead the business into successfully
implementing and adopting the technology (i.e. the management needs to be e-ready). Thus a fourth category,’management’is necessary.

Taking this into account, the verdict model has been so structured that for an organization to be e-ready it must include:

  • Management that believes in the technology and takes strategic dynamic measures to drive its adoption, implementation and usage in order to derive business benefits from the technology. Processes that enable and support the successful adoption of the
    technology.
    o People with adequate skills, understanding of, and belief in, the
    technology.
    o Technology tools and infrastructure necessary to support the business
    functions (e.g. processes and people).

All four categories are considered important for an organization to be e-ready. A company cannot be e-ready if it satisfies the requirements of just one category and not the others. For example, even if management, processes
and people are e-ready, the fact that the technology infrastructure is inadequate will affect the overall e-readiness of the organization. This example indicates that the company will need to address its technology issues in order to be e-ready. Drawing from the orchestra analogy, ‘a memorable symphony performance doesn’t happen when the players just assemble with their instruments and scores.’ and,’the orchestra with the most violinists isn’t necessarily going to sound the best.’ Similarly, all four categories – management, processes, people and technology – need to work hand-in hand
and symbiotically (see Figure 4.2).

Many organizations fail to realize that installing a system without first achieving universal buy-in and changing business processes, will result in a software installation, not an implementation of a comprehensive solution to business problems. According to Larkin (2003), if an organization merely completes an installation by automating inefficient processes, it will not realize a long-term positive impact. A successful company wide rollout includes more than simply buying and installing software.

It requires the management to align people, processes and technology to implement a solution that meets business needs. The result is the ability to capitalize on the full potential of the technology. investment. Thus, the implementation of new technology needs to be carefully managed and orchestrated. Companies should recognize that in order to successfully 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.

Four key elements for an e-ready organization
Figure 4.2

Next Page: Four key elements for an e-ready organization

Review of Readiness Assessment Models

An increasing number of readiness assessment tools have been developed over the last few years. On the surface, each tool gauges how ready a society or economy is to benefit from information technology and e-business. However, according to Peters (2001) the range of tools use widely varying approaches for readiness assessment, including different methods for measurement. Each assessment tool or model has a different underlying goal and definition of e-readiness. While some gauge the readiness of countries and economies to adopt Internet technologies on
a global platform, others are more focused on assessing the readiness of specific industry sectors to adopt Internet technologies.
Several readiness assessment models were reviewed as a part of this study, including those that were not construction-specific. Harvard University’s tool called the ‘Networked Readiness Index’ assesses a country’s capacity to make use of its ICT resources. It defines e-readiness as the degree to which a community is prepared to participate in the networked world including its potential to participate in the networked world in the future. On the other hand, APEC’s (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) E-Commerce Readiness Initiative focuses on government policies for e-commerce. Mosaic’s readiness assessment tool aims to measure and analyse the worldwide growth of the Internet.

While these tools focus on assessing readiness of countries, governments and policies for adopting Internet technologies, some others for example SCALES (Supply Chain Assessment and Lean Evaluation
System) assess the readiness to adopt different concepts or approaches for engineering (e.g. readiness assessment tools for concurrent engineering (CE). SCALES was developed for a specific industry sector – the
manufacturing industry. It was designed to assess a company’s (especially SMEs) readiness for adopting lean manufacturing techniques. RACE, on the other hand, is a readiness assessment tool for CE and is widely used in the software engineering, automotive and electronic industries.
Two other readiness models that are of particular relevance are the BEACON model and the IQ Net Readiness Scorecard.

  1. The BEACON model: BEACON (Bench-marking and Readiness Assessment for Concurrent Engineering in Construction) assesses the readiness of construction companies to improve their project delivery
    processes through the implementation of CE. It consists of four elements, which are Process, People, Project and Technology. A commercial software tool has been developed to automate the process of CE readiness assessment for construction organizations. The software takes the user through a series of questions and generates a diagram called the BEACON model diagram that graphically illustrates the assessment results.
  2. IQ Net Readiness Scorecard: This was developed by CISCO and is a Web-based application that assesses an organization’s ability to migrate to an Internet business model, which gauges the readiness of IT service providers. The application comprises of a series of statements that fall into four categories – Leadership,
    Governance, Technologies and Organizational Competencies. Similar to the BEACON model, companies are required to respond to the statements and on completion, they are presented with an IQ Net Readiness Profile.

The model that is described in this chapter combines aspects of these two models and builds on them. The proposed model adopts a similar methodology where the end-users are presented with a set of statements and an assessment of their e-readiness is based on their responses. On completion, the respondents are presented with a report which includes textual and graphical data. Where the proposed model differs from the two described above is that, while the BEACON model focuses on CE and the IQ Net Readiness Scorecard addresses the readiness of technology
companies (e.g. software companies, vendors and application service providers (ASPs) to develop applications and pro{it from what is termed the ‘e-conomy’, the proposed model assesses the e-readiness of construction
organizations to adopt e-business. The readiness assessment tool that is based on the proposed model is called VERDICT (an acronym for Verify End-user e-Readiness using a Diagnostic Tool).

Methodology for e-Readiness

e-Readiness can mean different things to different people, in different contexts, and for different purposes. The authors define e-readiness is as ‘the ability of an organization, department or work-group to successfully adopt, use and benefit from information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as e-business’. It is important for companies that seek to adopt e-business to undertake an analysis of their businesses to ensure a productive and beneficial implementation of these tools (i.e. they need to evaluate their ‘e-readiness’).

The approach adopted in the development of an e-readiness assessment tool for construction organizations is presented in this section.

Triangulation Methodology

Triangulation methodology that uses both qualitative and quantitative approaches, is adopted for the development of the e-readiness model that assesses the readiness of construction organizations for e-business. Using this method, theories can be developed qualitatively and tested quantitatively. Triangulation increases the validity and reliability of the data, since the strengths of one approach can compensate for the weaknesses of another.

A systematic two-stage approach has been adopted for assessing e-readiness. The first stage involves developing an assessment model for gauging the e-readiness of construction organizations for using e-business applications. Using a qualitative approach, a review of existing literature is carried out. The best suited models in the context of this
research study are then adapted to develop a model that assesses the e-readiness of construction organizations. The existing processes, working methods, procedures and practices in construction organizations are also analysed using qualitative methods such as one-to-one discussions, case studies and interviews.

The outcome of this led to the development of a set of questions for assessing the overall e-readiness of construction
organizations for adopting and implementing e-business technologies. Further, a quantitative approach is adopted to analyse end-user responses (by calculating cumulative and average scores) and presenting the findings graphically.

Rapid Application Development

The second stage involves development and evaluation of a prototype application. The development of this prototype is an iterative process that uses rapid application development (RAD) methodology of software
development. RAD is a concept that facilitates faster development of application software. RAD is performed alliteratively through several stages as illustrated in Figure 4.1.
The e-readiness tool was evaluated using a number of methods including self-evaluation and peer reviews during the development phase and then through industry validation of the final prototype software. Details of the evaluation are described in Section 4.6.4 of this chapter.

Rapid application development using iterative prototyping
Figure 4.1 Rapid application development using iterative prototyping