Don't ignore savings tips

Recently some companies have chosen to ignore suggestions made by their consultants, unlike Greenwich Nat West where everyone is benefiting from a top-down strategy



David Bicknell

E-business

Recently some companies have chosen to ignore suggestions made by their consultants, unlike Greenwich Nat West where everyone is benefiting from a top-down strategy

When it comes to getting an e-business strategy off the ground, there is always more you can do to gain a competitive advantage.

Resting on your laurels is not enough. Management has a key role. If it is in a position to deliver support to an online commerce strategy, that support must be unstinting. It must also be decisive.

Take, for example, where a consultancy has been called in to help deliver a Web strategy. After getting to grips with a company's business, the development is but a few months away from going live, when the consultant suggests some important changes to the company's organisational chart.

You might think those changes would be implemented immediately, to reinforce that competitive advantage the company is putting itself in a position to gain. Not so.

According to digital consultancy Viant, its recent suggestions to bricks-and-mortar companies that they put in place heads of "community", "content" and "commerce" before the project goes live have in some cases not been acted on.

This suggests two things:

  • companies don't know what a head of community actually is, and

  • they have even less idea why such a person should be in place about four months before the project goes live. The reason is so they can make mistakes and learn on the job.

    And have they been put in place? No.

    The corporate attitude must be, "Head of what? No way."

    This probably negates the point of using the digital consultancy in the first place. Listen to what they advise, then ignore it. Duh!

    Contrast such an attitude with the top-down strategy put in place by the top brass at City finance house Greenwich NatWest.

    There, after a few attempts to introduce an IT procurement system to cut IT costs, the company finally chose to go with a customisable system, Director, from Computacentre procurement offshoot Biomni.

    What was critical about this system is that the majority of PCs throughout the company are recycled. So, even though financial dealers may get the most up-to-date PCs, other employees are more likely to get dealers' cast-offs.

    This policy of recycling is inevitably going to have its detractors, especially those who believe they need a certain type of PC, when actually the specification they have is sufficient.

    This is where top-down support can be critical. If a chief executive will back such a policy, the chance to cut costs is genuinely possible. But it demands support for departments such as purchasing, which are likely to bear the brunt of complaints.

    If the chief executive is prepared to put his or her foot down, and recycle, recycle and recycle, ultimately everyone will benefit. This was the case at Greenwich NatWest. Costs taken off the bottom line can only benefit workers involved in profit sharing, eventually.

    So, take a close look at your senior management. Are they aware of new job titles/roles? Are issues tackled long in advance of going live? Could they drive through a recycling operation by giving support to the purchasing department rather than caving in over it?

    Or are they part of a team that has failed to act on the advice given, and in a few months time, will be wishing it could turn the clock back!

  • This was last published in July 2000

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