Tuesday, December 9, 2008

eStrategy for SMEs

The World Wide Web has provided savvy small and medium-sized businesses with new opportunities and tools that enable them to compete effectively with major corporations. The challenge is to look like a major player without spending your entire revenue stream on site development. Keys to success in planning include:

  • Assessing the competition
  • Determining your long and short term goals for the web site
  • Understanding what impact taking different functions of your company to the web will have on your employees and their work environment
  • Establishing what you consider an acceptable return on investment and a realistic schedule to achieve it

eStrategy is the ability to assess your existing site, confer with company personnel, detail the current situation, and recommend options for meeting your web-based goals. The web is a complex place and simply hiring a webmaster does not guarantee success.

Understanding who comes to your web site, from where, and what they do when they get there are instrumental in understanding whether your web projects are attaining your goals.

Requirements Analysis

your web-based projects by consulting with your personnel, clients, and vendors to assist you in defining your entire long-term Internet strategy or simply an individual project within your existing plan.

Requirements analysis usually consists of a client dealing with a business challenge and attempting to solve this challenge through web-based technologies. Since this is not usually the company's area of expertise nor their business focus, it is recommended to bring in an independent firm such as JHeydecker Design Systems to perform two tasks:
  • Act as an independent agent with no political agenda to
    gather as much information from internal and external sources
    and report this data in a meaningful manner.
  • Report on the options available capable of solving the
    business challenge.
Information gathering can be very complex, and bringing in an independent agent facilitates a freer flow of quality information. Depending on the challenges faced by the company, some of the strategies used include:
  • Internal focus groups revolving around company processes,
    such as Customer Support, Sales, or R&D.
  • External focus groups such as consumers, vendors, existing
    customers, or media.
  • Telephone interviews with your top ten clients.
  • End of transaction surveys.
  • Typical purchaser profiles.
  • Vendor evaluations.
  • Product evaluations.
  • Paradigm shift impact analysis.

Once the data has been collected, in-depth analysis is required to organize the information in a meaningful format in order for the company to understand the weight of the business challenge and the existing solutions available at the time. Companies performing due diligence before throwing money at a project will save money and produce a better solution more quickly.

Product Specifications

When developing product specifications that take into account all aspects of the development cycle, users, vendors, marketing, and technology to produce robust, scalable and user-friendly products that are capable of being developed in a realistic time-frame.

As part of a product specification, you should cover:

  • Management Issues
  • Management Requirements
  • Product Objectives
    • Business
    • Strategy
    • Technology
  • Marketing
    • User Profiles & Characteristics
    • User Requirements
    • Competitive Analysis
  • Product Risks & Contingencies
  • Development Phases
  • Product Requirements
    • Architecture
    • User Interface
    • Performance
    • Time-to-Market
    • Service and Maintenance
    • Internationalization
    • Licensing
  • Product Launch Plan
    • Marketing Communication Schedules
    • Sales Tools Schedules
    • Training Schedules
  • Business Partner Impact
  • Proposed Web Site Architecture
  • Proposed User Interface Diagrams
Producing a detailed product specification enables your company to request proposals from any web development company and receive comparable quotations based on exactly the same software product.