E-Business Systems and Enterprise Term Paper

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e-Business Systems and Enterprise Systems

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Term Paper on E-Business Systems and Enterprise Business Systems Assignment

First, any proposed e-business system and is related Enterprise Business System needs to be agile and flexibility enough to meet the unique process needs (Carayannopoulos, 2009) and role needs of the tire store. The e-business system specifically needs to be flexible enough to allow for rapid updates to pricing, inventory, product definitions in the catalogs, and the use of sales promotions online as well (Elmore, 2005). The e-business side of the system needs to be attuned to marketing, selling and service needs of the small store. There as a result need to be applications that are available on a 24/7 basis to customers if they are interested in checking if a specific tire is in stock for example. In larger vehicles including SUVs there are also wheel balancing and safety checks of wheel installation including testing of shocks to ensure they are safe and working. The e-business system must also be flexible enough to be changed quickly as the store's needs change. Using template-based development tools for the e-commerce site for example the store could quickly have an online store up and running. Presuming that its inventory is available in automated system feeds, the store could work with a software integration specialist to have real-time price and availability on the site anytime a customer wants it. A segment of the website also needs to be dedicated to escalating services calls and requests for quotes on fleet programs from larger companies. This would be a specialized application the company could produce over time. Supporting the e-business platform, the Enterprise Business Systems would have Accounts Payable (a/P), Accounts Receivable (a/R), General Ledger, Financial Reporting, Analytics, and Online Payroll (Collins, 2006). These are the core financial accounting systems of the company, and are critically important for managing it to profitability. In many small businesses these Enterprise Business Systems over time grow into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems as they coordinate with inbound suppliers, inventory, pricing, stock balancing, services costs and programs. What begins as an accounting system often ends up an ERP system in small businesses that grow rapidly over time (Jackson, 2009). Having the financial, supply chain, logistics and support data across the company for each time can also be used to strengthen the e-business system or website as well. Using systems integration to pricing and also to logistics would show a customer interested in a highly specific and most likely expensive tire when it would arrive in the store's warehouse locations, its price, and when it would be available for sale. In short, forward-thinking small businesses look at their ERP systems as a means to further support more effective online selling through their websites and e-commerce initiatives.

As the company has yet to install an e-business system or website and an Enterprise Business System (potentially an ERP system) it is recommended that the initial systems be hosted or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based, which means they are accessible entirely over the Internet through a browser. This will significantly speed up the customization of the e-business and enterprise business systems, in addition to accelerating learning as well. Hosted or SaaS-based applications are pervasive for e-commerce, with Yahoo, GoDaddy.com and others being well-known. NetSuite has an online accounting and ERP system that is also exceptionally easy to work with that could increase the probability of system success.

2. Explain the activities that should be performed in order to justify your recommendations?

The store first needs to define which objectives it wants to accomplish using both the e-business or e-commerce site and the Enterprise Business Systems. In effect a strategic plan needs to first be produced which can be used to determine the most critical success factors for the e-commerce and enterprise systems. Included in this plan there also needs to be process workflows and estimates as to how processes would improve over time based on the adoption of these systems (Robinson, Sherwood & DePaolo, 2010).

Second, after defining the strategic plan of which long-range goals the systems will be focused on achieving, it's critically important for the company managers responsible for planning, implementing and maintaining the system to have a very clear idea of just what people in the process areas targeted for improvement will do from a daily tasks standpoint, and also understand how these new systems may change their roles and responsibilities significantly. Process mapping and a focus on how to make the overall store more efficient by placing more information online needs to be addressed in this step. Inherent in this step is also a definition of the e-commerce strategy and its goals and objectives.

Third, the strategic plan and e-commerce plan need to also be integrated into a project plan that the store's management, selling and services team can all support as the systems are rolled out over time. There needs to be allowance for training and additional system development in addition to customization of screens for the specific needs of employees. All of these factors can contribute to the employees having a greater sense of ownership regarding the e-commerce site and the enterprise system.

Fourth, prior to the actual pilot of the e-business or e-commerce system and the Enterprise Business Systems the store would be wise to benchmark existing processes and see how much it costs to manage price and availability calls manually, or how much time is taken in helping customers check on the status of their orders. Also measuring how often customers call to see if a given high-end and unique tire is in stock also needs to be captured. All of this data can be included on a balanced scorecard (BSC) by which the tire store will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of their e-business and enterprise systems efforts (Saffu, Walker, Hinson, 2008). Most successful small business implementations of e-business or e-commerce systems in addition to ERP systems share this common trait. They all measure the performance of the company's processes and systems before cutting over to isolate the effects of the new system (Winter, Gaglio & Rajagopalan, 2009). What often happens during this phase which is done immediately before a pilot is that new metrics or measures of performance are created which had not been thought of before. This is extremely valuable because not only are insights being gained into the company that were not there, they are being actively measured and evaluated over time.

All of these factors and steps need to be taken into account to ensure the store has a successful evaluation of the e-business or e-commerce system, in addition to the Enterprise Business System they are planning to implement (Wolcott, Kamal, Qureshi, 2008). If all the store does is bring in the software and not thoroughly evaluate the processes and systems, they will be automating mediocrity. To get lasting result they will need to concentrate on measuring the true impact of systems on company performance.

3. What challenges do you see in implementing the recommended technology/application software?

There are going to be many challenges to implementing to recommended e-business or e-commerce application and enterprise business systems. First and most significant there is going to be widespread resistance to change on the part of store employees who may resent having to use these systems to do their accounting or finance jobs when in the past they did them by hand. Second, these systems can quickly audit entire workflows and ledgers, instantly finding errors. The employees in accounting and finance will also most likely feel that "Big Brother" is looking over time and monitoring them. This is why gaining employee's inputs over time are so critically important (Sanghvi, 2007). Achieving ownership of the proposed system is by far the best strategy to overcome resistance to change.

Second, the managing of the e-business and e-commerce websites can be very time-consuming as well. The reliance on dedicated headcount to get this accomplished is critically important. Sharing these responsibilities across departments will most likely not work, as matrix-based organizations can at times fail. The focus needs to be on system and process accountability, and the use of the system to attain the business goals and objectives they are bringing brought in to realize (McChlery, Godfrey, Meechan, 2005). For the e-business or e-commerce system this includes better managing of the presales or lead generation process, in addition to having a 24/7 system available for providing price, availability and location of tires of interest to consumers. There will also be a service area to the website which gives customers the opportunity to comment on the tires they purchased and the service experience they had while in the store. Service will also have an area for scheduling tire rotations and balancing in real-time as well. The e-business or e-commerce site then is specifically designed to give customers all they need to get the most out of their relationship with the tire store.

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