DU SOL B.Com 3rd Year E-Commerce Notes Chapter 8 Website Design

DU SOL B.Com 3rd Year E-Commerce Notes Chapter 8 Website Design

1. What is the role of Web site in B2C E-commerce?
Web Service are becoming the primary way in which business processes are exposed and accessed in the enterprise. As these processes are exposed, it will become easier for organizations to integrate their business operations with those of their partners.

At the same time, portals have rapidly emerged to become the Web user interface of choice for accessing enterprise-wide heterogeneous data and applications. It is a natural fit, then, for portals to become the main user interface for interacting with Web Services-based business processes both inside and outside the enterprise. By making business processes more accessible to internal users, customers and trading partners, portals put a “human face” on Web service.

Need of Web site:
Building an intelligent web site that optimally leverages all sources of information for an on-line company does not happen overnight. It takes several iterations, a significant investment in technology and an accumulation of knowledge that comes only with experimentation, trial and error.

These days, the question is no longer whether your company should have a Web site or not-it’s how soon and how well done. Companies that are new to the on-line game usually are at stage zero and use almost no data at all, whereas companies more advanced in e-business intelligence are able to integrate date coming from transaction, click stream and other sources to build powerful consumer relationships and market leadership.

With Forrester Research predicting that by 2004, online commerce will reach U$ 6.8 trillion and a study by Jupiter Communications expecting online business volume to grow 20-fold within the next five years, now is the best time to start getting your business online!. Whether it’s a simple site composed of 5 pages or an e- commerce capable Web site , you need something that works for both your company and customers.

On the Internet, Good customer service begins with good Web design. Your Web site should help you win customers and build lasting business relationship with them. Designing Web sites for corporate and business clients is our specialty. Web services are Internet-based, modular applications .hat provide standard interfaces and communication protocols for efficient and effective “business application integration”.

Typical application areas are business-to-business integration, business process integration and management, content management, e-sourcing, composite Web Service creation, and design collaboration for computer engineering. Currently, Web services to define standard’ interfaces for business services like “business process outsourcing”, a higher-level outsourcing mode of e-business.

Web Services will be the glue that will enable the cost-efficient integration required, by using Web Services to broaden its market reach by allowing its numerous partners- themselves typically small businesses- to enhance their offerings by seamlessly integrating to its back-end CRM, CMS, E-Marketing and E-Commerce systems.

Retail Industry:
The ever-increasing complexity of the services industries hinges on the successful interaction between business partners, highlighting the increasing need to seamlessly integrate systems within a company’s enterprise and with business partners.

Business Process Automation:
Organization, customers are looking for better, more efficient ways to share information within their organization and with outside key suppliers, partners, and clients. E-BizPortals develops workflow, automation, and document management solutions as a direct result of customer feedback and research into information sharing practices within organizations. The research clearly demonstrated that no one solution could address the information-sharing needs of an entire organization; small and ad hoc teams share information in very different ways than do large teams.

E- Business Integration from E-bizportals:
The industry solutions will help companies model and simulate how business processes will flow across’ its internal operations, business partners, and customers; integrate those processes’ across custom and packaged applications; connect the processes with suppliers and / customers; monitor the business processes; and manage the performance of the business. “E-Business integration solution” that can help you earn a , quick return on your investment:

E-business can help you see and manage your company as an integrated whole even if important parts of it are outsourced to others. Not just to increase operational efficiencies. But to build a dynamic infrastructure that allows you to create new business processes and leverage existing processes cost- effectively. An effective business integration strategy offers you the flexibility to manage your processes more efficiently, while reducing costs and time to market

Software strategy for integrated e-business:
Companies can break through the complexity of integration and achieve business strategy goals. It defines key business and technology integration requirements. “Business Integration solutions” solve complex integration problems to provide the end- to-end integration and responsiveness of an e-business.

E-Business Integration Solutions:
“Integration” that define the modeling, integrating, connecting, monitoring and managing of business processes. Comprehensive integration capabilities that can help make integration easier, faster and less expensive.

E-Business Process Integration:
Web Business Processes, which aggregate many Web services, and for this process then to be offered for deployment via a partner’s Web site or intranet. Web services for price comparison, store locator, and online validation systems for the retail marketplace. It enables users to simultaneously access third-party Internet sites, databases, intranets and other internal or external resources as if the content existed in a single location.

The information can physically reside in different offices, organizations or companies, but users navigate the content as if it were all residing in a single integrated location. E-Bizportals Integration Suite is a solution for Business-to-Business (B2B), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI).

There are two models of E-business conducted outside the enterprise:
(B2B) is the close integration of business partners. B2B aims to connect two or more companies in order to speed up cycle times and reduce costs. In EAI terms, this means integrating applications running on a mix of systems made more complex by different computing strategies.

B2B encourages’ companies to work together more closely. For example, orders from a company are automatically sent to suppliers and the appropriate action is started and completed. This involves publishing services offered by the supplier to the companies that are supplied. Suddenly, all these companies have an automated relationship, which is much closer and faster than today’s way of doing business.

(B2C) enables the business to deliver to consumers automatically on the transactions that, in the past, needed the initiation by a company’s employees. For example, to open a new bank account directly from the Internet, all the steps required are being made available to the public, using easy-to-understand user interfaces (new front-end applications accessed from the Web), and the bank’s back end applications that create the new account, plus all the associated tasks.

For both, B2B and B2C, it is vital that the boundaries of the business process are fully described, so that business partners and customers can work easily with the company, either interactively or with full automation. And even more important, the explicit flow also allows companies to change their processes as fast as the market changes – and easily enough for decision makers to change the business rules, rather than IT people.

The company itself can offer departmental services to the internal community allowing internal ordering, for example, across the company’s intranet. This not only encourages companies to document their existing processes, but leads to reengineering and refining in order to automate and accelerate them.

Question 2.
What are Web-Site Strategies and Web-Site Design Principles?
Web-Site Strategies. Designing an effective web site requires more than just gathering relevant information and posting it on the web. Like a good paper or research presentation, a quality web project demands as much attention to the selection, organization, and presentation of material as to the underlying research itself.

You should strive, above all, to be both clear and engaging in every aspect v of site design. Without the first, you will quickly lose your audience. Without the second, you’ll never catch their attention in the first place. Whenever we design consumer oriented sites like Bazee.com, sifi.com, the customer can avail end products that starts from buying a notebook having cost Rs. 5 as well as buying PC having cost Rs. 15000. Here are some concrete suggestions for making your site a winner: Before you begin following are the some design i strategies –

  • Consider your audience and your goals. You should have a clear sense of who will be using your site (mostly college undergraduates) and what kind of experience you are hoping to provide. What exactly are l you trying to accomplish here? Why is this important.
  • Plan your site on paper first. You can draw a “family tree” of pages with arrows indicating links. Or you can make a hierarchical outline. Either way, it is essential to organize your information and layout the architecture of your site before attempting to implement your vision.

Site Layout:
Strive for consistency. You want your project to have an identity, so all the pages in your project should have a common feel: there | should be consistency among backgrounds, color schemes, navigational tools, and tone of voice. This is especially important if you are dividing up your site’s pages among several team members.

Otherwise, your project will seem like two or three separate projects lumped together, rather than a single, unified whole. Provide a rich set of „ links within your site. Ideally, there should be multiple ways for your user to navigate your pages. You should consider including a prominent ‘home’ link or icon on each page, a menu or table of contents, and highlighted links within textual material to related information elsewhere on the site.

Feel free, of course, also to provide links to other pages within ECE or
elsewhere on the web. Don’t hide important information. Users don’t like to click too many times to find the information they want – if information is particularly important, make it accessible up front. On any given page, remember that as with a newspaper, the top left comer is the. most prominent.

The web medium:
Provide opportunities for interaction. How is your site any different from a traditional print document? How can you involve the reader in ways that non digitized texts usually cannot? Interactivity can be a compelling, innovative means of engaging your reader and creating experiences that cannot be replicated in other media.

Avoid text-only pages. Ideally, a user should never encounter an entire screen lull of uninterrupted text in browsing your site. Again, take advantage of the web medium!

Don’t sacrifice elegance for pizzazz. Just because you can make images fly across the screen does not mean you necessarily should. Every design element of your site (colors, images, animation) ought to correspond thematically with the content and goals of your project.

Provide a link for every URL you mention in your site. If your bibliography or notes include a citation for another website, list the URL in full, but make it ‘clickable’ as well so that the user can go directly to the site in question.

The front door:
Give your site a descriptive title. Your title should convey the content of your site in a concise but engaging manner. Remember, the title is how your site will be identified on the ECE home pages. Ideally, it should pique the curiosity of users and prompt them to explore your project pages.

Include a brief introduction. This should be part of your site’s home page, and should explain the scope and purpose of the site. Once users have noticed your title and followed a link to your site, they will expect quickly to find a further elaboration of your title, a brief paragraph or two describing what the site is all about and what makes it interesting. You’ve caught the user’s eye with your title; the introduction is your chance to heighten their interest and persuade them to actually stick around and explore.

Make your site’s home page as useful a starting point as possible. The viewer should be able to see at a glance what your site is about, how it is laid out, and what kinds of resources and features it includes. Ideally, all of this information (along with your site title and introduction) should be visible on a single fast-loading screen that requires a minimum of scrolling.

Make sure your text is legible. Check the size, color, and font of all text within your site to confirm that it can be easily read. Be especially careful of dark or fancy backgrounds that make text hard to read.

Make sure your site is platform independent. Your site should be viewable on both Mac and Windows machines using either of the most commonly available browsers, Netscape and Explorer.

Consider the needs of your viewers. Think about the bandwidth your site will require. Keep in mind that not all users will have the luxury of an Ethernet connection. Minimize the memory requirements of your site by compressing images and other large files. And make sure all your images have ALT -TEXT behind them.

This makes the site accessible both to low-vision users and users with slow modems who have turned the images off.

The end game:
Thoroughly test your site. Ask a friend to sit down and explore your site. .Ask them to think out loud, and watch them navigate the site. Do they get lost? Do they have trouble finding links? Do they have trouble understanding your labels? Do they understand your prose? Ideally, you should elicit and incorporate feedback about your site in the course of developing it as well as when its nearing complet:on. Be sure to test, your site both of the most commonly used browsers, Netscape and Internet Explorer.

Proofread carefully! ECE is a public resource sponsored by the University of Michigan and all of its pages should maintain a high level of professionalism. Check carefully for spelling and grammatical errors before posting your written materials to the web.

Web-Site Design Principles:
Principles of Web design include easy to navigate pages, consistent page layout and colors, (colors concise writing style, effective use of links and graphics, and accuracy of information – not an easy task one person. When you begin your site you may want to meet with a representative of CCMS (Computing, Communications, and Media Services) for assistance instructional design, graphic design, and Web design. Following are some web-site design principle as:

If you have spent any time on the Web, you can probably remember at some point being lost in cyberspace. The ability to link virtually anywhere from a page can be confusing. A well-designed site offers good navigational tools to give the reader a clear, quick, and consistent method to move within the site. Books tend to be linear, where one starts at the beginning and proceeds to the end. Many Web site designs begin with a hierarchical diagram with the home page at the top and the main branches linked below.

Page Layout:
Much of page layout on the Web has to be accomplished within tables because HTML has no method to set margins or columns. Once designed, the HTML document can serve as a template for subsequent documents on your site. When creating the template for your site –

  1. Keep lines short, approximately 40-60 characters or about 11 words per line.
  2. Keep paragraphs four to eight lines.
  3. Use wider margins to increase white space for readability online.
  4. Use headlines, bullets, pull quotes, and sidebars.
  5. Use darker or brighter contrast in small areas.
  6. Give all pages a common look and feel.

Links should be easy to understand, and graphic links should be clear and also have text links for accessibility.
Try to use descriptive words for links instead of click here.
Make pages or sections easy to return to. When you link to other sites you might want to use the Target command to open the other site in a new window,
i. e., CSUS Web opens in a new window instead of CSUS Web opens in the same browser window and the reader must use the browser’s back button to return.
Check links regularly to make sure they are still current.

Make sure graphics support the message. Using a graphic repeatedly throughout the site reduces download time because once an image is downloaded it remains in the computer’s cache. During the browser session, the image is called from cache instead of going out to the Web site. Avoid overusing graphics and animations because they draw away from the message and increase download time.

Highly graphic pages, however, can be extremely slow loading when using a modem or the graphics can distract the reader. Web pages need a mixture of visual sensation, text information, and interactive hypermedia links. Types of Media on the Web contains further information on graphic types and size. Dense text documents without the contrast and visual relief offered by graphics and careful page layout are difficult to read. The Yale Style Guide recommends chunking information so information can be scanned and located quickly because –

  1. Few Web users spend time reading long passages of text on-screen
  2. Concise segments of information fit better on the computer screen.
  3. Long pages tend to be printed instead of read online.

What to Avoid:
Large graphics with slow download time that delay page display. Bandwidth is a 1 primary restriction of the Web and large graphic, audio, and video files that are slow loading distract the reader. If the load time is not worth the wait, the reader becomes frustrated with the site.

Buttons or links that is hard to use or identify. Logic behind the way screens are linked and the navigation elements need to be clear.

Long pages without white space or relevant graphics. Unless the page is meant to be printed instead of read on the screen.

Backgrounds that result in unreadable text or are distracting. A void dark colors combined with dark text fonts or distracting images that overshadow the text. To begin, stay with a white background.

Broken links are a sign of an outdated site or one with a low quality control
Overuse of fonts, colors, and animations.

Writing for the Web:
Readers seek clarity, order, and accuracy in information sources, whether they are traditional paper documents or Web pages. The spatial organization of graphics and text on a Web page can engage the student, direct the student’s attention, prioritize information, and make the student’s interactions with your online course material more, enjoyable and more effective.
Write in an inverted-pyramid style with the conclusion first.
Use lists when possible.

Avoid Spelling Mistakes:
Spelling mistakes detract from the professional look and feel of a Web page. The accuracy and quality of the information begins to fade with each spelling mistake. If your Web editor does not have a spell checker, open your content in a word processor and check the spelling. Current versions of Microsoft Word and WordPerfect will open HTML documents.

Finding the Right Page Length:
The length of your Web page will depend on its purpose. For example, if you are providing students with detailed instructions for a project that you expect printed, the page might be longer and contain less white space to reduce the number of printed pages. However, if you expect the document to be browsed and read online, limit the page to no more than two or three screenful of text because researchers have found people lose context and become disoriented when reading and scrolling text on a computer screen.

PowerPoint slides make excellent Web presentations because each slide becomes a page and navigation buttons are automatically added during the conversion from PowerPoint format to HTML. Printing the presentation would ’ require a student to print one page for each slide, unless you include the original PowerPoint format for download or a PDF version with three slides per page.

For an example, view the sample PowerPoint Readers prefer longer Web pages , if they are going to print the information.’ Developers prefer longer Web pages because they only have to edit and upload one file. You can compromise and ; provide a good online interface for pages and easy printing by –

  1. Dividing the page up into two to three printed pages with hyperlinks to other pages.
  2. Providing links to separate files that contain full length text combined into one page specifically for printing.

Shorter Web pages should be used for –

  1. Home pages and menu pages.
  2. Documents to be browsed and read online. ,
  3. Page with large graphics.

Web Accessibility Guidelines:
Increasing the accessibility of your Web site can improve information Clarity for all visitors to your pages. Web accessibility tools can be used to check to make sure images include alt tags and there are no incorrect or missing HTML tags. The Web Accessibility- Initiative (W Al) provides information on creating Web sites which provide equal access to information for students with disabilities.

As you develop your pages, make sure they can meet the guidelines below. Otherwise, you will be denying access to students with disabilities who are viewing the pages using standard assistive computer technologies.

Question 3.
What are Push and Pull Technologies?
The web is developing into a learning environment with new ‘ opportunities to examine the convergence of on-line instructional tools with push-pull information management techniques. The WIDE (Web-based Instructional Designed Environment) approach supports a student-centred, autonomous learning methodology. This system uses the needs of the/student in an independent learning situation to define the appropriate learning tools to , deploy informationbasedupon the results of the ‘learner self-profiling system.

Can a web-based learning environment student identify their push-pull learning preferences which can then be applied to a set of on-line tools to facilitate information handling?

There are the methodologies whereby different methods are being used to retrieve web contents from the Internet. There are mainly two methods as discussed below:

Push Technology:
In push Technology concept a server pushes the information to their subscriber without any request from the user. Push technology make use of point cost technologies and the Microsoft Internet explorer is termed as web costing and Netscape explorer is termed as net costing. This concept is called push Technology. Added information is given by push.

Requirements can be met using a “push” technology, such as a textbook that will (hopefully) lead directly to students learning the required skills and knowledge. It says, “These are the requirements, and this is exactly what must be done to meet them.” The “push” approach assumes that the book writer has all (or at least most) of the answers to “How?”. He assumes that you will follow his routines and methods. This method generally has these characteristics –

  1. Does not require much teacher-inventiveness in creating teaching materials.
  2. Can be used by relatively inexperienced teachers.
  3. Uniformity (to some extent) across multiple schools
  4. Textbooks are usually agendized. They ignore all aspects of being a human not directly related to their subject or to the biases of the writer. The subject-in-a-box problem.
  5. Freezes the method of teaching / learning. Any progress or improvement is very slow or nonexistent.
  6. If the textbook is weak or in error, correction is more difficult. A great deal of human and systemic inertia will tend to maintain that weakness.

As the Web is becoming more common as a means for electronic information gathering on the individual employee’s desktop, what is known as “push technology” is becoming more popular. Push technology automatically delivers data to the user based on pre-defined information profiles or filters.

Although push technology industry leaders at the 1997 Push Technology Summit in San Diego, California, presented little consensus on the future of the technology, some 74% believe they will be receiving more than 25% of their Internet information via push technology by the year 2002 (Willmot 1997). Push technology has been around for awhile under the names of “current awareness” or SD1 (Selective Dissemination of Information) services and has used fax or e-mail as its delivery medium, but the Web browser interface has since proved more convenient for many corporations (Streeter 1997).

While a large corporation may have incompatible e-mail systems, corporate intranets enable companies to create their own “channels” to send out information such as product delivery schedules or human resources – department memos. However, this broadcast model has the drawback of taking up valuable -bandwidth, especially when data is broadcast from the Internet rather than within the corporate intranet Push technology generally suffers from the same shortcomings as the Web.

The filtering systems that currently exist do little to provide needed information within users’ time constraints. Users want the process of being kept up-to-date to take no longer than about 10 minutes, according to Individual Inc’s PaulPinella (Paul 1997). Another limitation of push technology is that it currently depends on profiles that are too crude to do’ much more than fill up e-mail boxes with data that by its sheer volume has been transformed from useful information into useless files.

The filters of push products still need to developed Anther so that they can deliver information on the basis of a refined and dynamic set of interrelated properties about the user (Dodge 1997). The current filters are most appropriate for users, such as salespeople, for whom it is relatively easy to identify the information that is important Despite its limitations, the current state pf push technology still has advantages over earlier forms of current awareness services, information is received from continuous, real-time news feeds instead of relying on newspaper clippings.

Software can customize the sorting and organization of the information and create profiles for each individual in an organization. Customized profiles can be created by various means, such as from table-of-contents databases (Dysart and Jones 1995).

Pull Technology. In Pull Technology concept another approach whereby the subscriber makes the request only then the information is formed to the user. For example, Search engine acts as a powerful mechanism for pull technology. Also another example is Hyper linking of web pages.

Requirements can be met using a “pull” technology, such as a standards based (read, “requirements based”) test. A “pull” approach basically says, “I don’t care how you reach these goals, just reach them. You can use whatever curriculum or methods you want You can use a brute-force method, or one filled with finesse and creativity.” It has these characteristics –

  1. Creativity required. (Unfortunately it is a scarce attribute.)
  2. Highly experienced teachers will be better at it.
  3. If applied across the board to many schools there will be a mixed bag of results, at least in the beginning and near-term.
  4. Some very creative, innovative, and highly successful methods will be invented and used.
  5. Eventually, pull technology can lead to faster and greater
    improvements than using “Push”.

Although push technology has become popular with the spread of Web technology and especially corporate intranets, the traditional proactive search methods, now dubbed “pull” technology, are making inroads into the Web platform.

On the pull side, a number of companies have recently developed search engines intended expressly for corporate intranets (Hibbard 1997). The new search engines are able to search more than just Hypertext Markup Language and text files; they Can search files created with popular productivity suites, as well as searching various file systems.

Push-Pull Mix:
There is no way to generally define which is best: push or pull. The answer is constantly changing! Here is the situation now, as this writer sees it.

In general our education system is very badly broken. Based on the observation that the efforts to fix it are (society wide) like a chase scene from a Keystone Cops movie, we as a society don’t yet know how! As a society, we are not now smart enough to fix all our schools.

The pull technology is likely to produce the best medium term results. Couple it with regulations and organizational schemes now emerging. Then the pull technology will spin off lots of ideas. Some will fail miserably.

Some will succeed. Some will be wonderfully successful! Because of competition, failures will be weeded out Wonderfully successful will multiply. This is the idea behind “Market Pressure” as it relates to education. In the last century, we learned that centrally planned economic and social systems do not work as well as a free and competitive system.

Those systems are not as complex as how we team and develop as human beings. Why should we believe that a one-size-fits-all, top-down-human- designed push technology would work to save’ our education system? As we get smarter in this process, then we can gradually shift our efforts over to more push technology. This will make the new knowledge more accessible to beginning or otherwise inexperienced teachers.

Despite push technology’s recent popularity, the question is not whether the .push model is superior to the pull model, but rather when to use one. rather than the other. Users of push technology may obtain leads from the information received and then search elsewhere for more in-depth information.

Ultimately, the value of push products is in their currency, and the value of pull products is in their ability to provide the user with the depth and breadth of information the corporation needs to make business decisions. The main shortcoming for both the push and pull models is needing to know where to look for and find relevant information. Thus both models are useless without the expertise and knowledge that librarians and information specialists bring to the process.
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Question 4.
Write a short note on Alternative methods of customer Communication.
The best performance reviews let managers and employees communicate – share ideas, opinions, and information. Unfortunately, most traditional reviews put managers into the position of uncomfortable judges, ostensibly telling employees how their work either fit the bill – or didn’t. Possibly because of this, most traditional reviews are no better than the manager’s off-the-cuff judgments, and some may be illegal. Because of these problems, new types of reviews are coming into play.

Most require that evaluations be done not for raises, promotions, or bonuses, but for growth, development, and communication. The most important aspect in every case is communication between the employee and other people, instead of one-way communication, for higher performance. Following are the some alternative methods used between customer communications.

Problems with traditional systems:
Michael Rigg, of Fluor Daniel, (quoted in Industrial Engineering, August 1992) said that traditional evaluation methods damage teamwork because of the focus on supervisors evaluating individuals; they may “strip people of their sense of control.’’ Rigg also said that evaluations should provide feedback to individuals so problems may be corrected and higher performance can be rewarded. In traditional reviews, the manager tells the employee how they measure up, assuming that they both perceive the employee’s job the same way.

New forms of review may help managers, employees, peers, and customers to gain a mutual understanding of what they mean by “good performance.” This may improve the work of everyone involved, while clearing up disputes. Most managers tend to rate their employees a bit higher than they would normally deserve, leading some companies to use ranking systems – but ranking has its own problems.

Generally, traditional reviews are good at sniffing out excellent and very poor employees, but don’t differentiate well among the vast middle ground. This is a problem when reviews are used as die basis for salary adjustments and bonuses, unless only people at the extremes are treated differently (e.g.everyone gets a 4% bonus except very poor employees, who get nothing, and excellent employees, who get 6%).

With traditional l “eviews, employees are rated by a single person, who may be biased or have an incomplete view of their work. Alternative methods provide a more balanced view. Other problems with traditional evaluation systems include rater carelessness; use of appraisals for political or personal reasons; the halo effect, where an employee’s strengths in one area are spread to other areas; and leniency and strictness errors, where 1 all employees are rated either high or low. Newer systems avoid most of these problems.

Peer Reviews:
A peer review program may be designed by a task force of three to six workers, to set the goals, benefits, and objectives of the program; design a criteria-based performance evaluation system; and conduct a pilot program (Training and Development, June 1992). During the pilot program, people may be encouraged to provide feedback on the system itself. Training and support should be available.

Pilot programs are very important for any new system, because they let people iron out the bugs without letting the program lose credibility among other workers. Peer reviews often have a high level of worker acceptance and involvement; they tend to be stable, task-relevant, and accurate. By helping peers to understand each others’ work and by airing grievances in a non¬threatening manner, peer reviews may also help people to get along better.

For the organization, this means higher performance. For the people, this means a better place to work and less frustration; it may also help people to concentrate less on politics or working around people, and to spend more time on their work (or to put in less overtime). Peer reviews may work best if all parties know that the reviews will not be used for setting pay, promotion possibilities, or disciplinary actions. However, a peer review system with the power to give promotions, raises, or disciplinary actions might be workable in some businesses, if the employees think it’s a good idea.

Self-reviews are based on the idea that employees are most familiar with their work, and that their involvement is essential. Employees rate themselves on a number of criteria, usually with a formal survey form, and suggest improvements. They help to clarify their own goals, and expose areas of weakness so they may be worked on. The manager may be left out of the process, although an exchange of views between the worker and manager may help their relationship, and boost the employee’s own understanding.

Herbert H. Meyer (Academy of Management Executive, 1991) said that self review changes the role of the manager to.counselor, rather than judge – a role from which the manager can do more to support people. He wrote that self review” …enhances the subordinate’s dignity and self respect.” Involving the employee – as an equal ir. the review process is more likely (according to Meyer) to increase commitment to action plans, making the entire process both more satisfying and more productive. Self-reviews tend to have low halo error and result in little paperwork for managers. However, people may not see their own deficiencies as others do, so self reviews should be used alongside other methods.

Upward assessments:
Upward assessments are used in a large number of organizations, running from Honda and Chrysler to Motorola and NASA. These programs tend to be somewhat shocking to managers at first, but, if designed well, they can result in strong improvements. The rated managers become the program’s biggest fans. Amoco’s Bill Clover described this as the “SARAH reaction: Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, Help” (Training, March 1993).

Most managers do not realize that what they say sometimes does not match up to what they do. Upward assessments can help managers to keep their words and actions consistent, while showing areas where managers can improve their performance. This can greatly increase their credibility. The process is more important than the survey form; it can’t be successful unless both raters and managers “open up.”

Managers must be helped to accept and deal with the results of the assessment. Outside consultants may have experience, needed skills, and an “objective outsider” image, so people can open up to them without fear of reprisal. If cost is a major issue, it may be possible to hire an intern from a local doctoral program in organizational or I/O psychology. Upward assessments may only be run with managers who have three or more direct reports.

Someone other than the manager and rates must assemble the completed survey forms into a report for the manager; some survey publishers do this. Many consultants recommend using upward assessments at least every two years. This helps managers to check their progress and refreshes the findings of the past survey in their minds; however, it doesn’t make the cost unbearable.
After the first assessment, the program may be run in-house.

360 degree Feedback (360 degree Review):
360 degree feedback is the most comprehensive and costly type of appraisal. It includes self ratings, peer review, and upward assessments; feedback is sought from everyone. It gives people a chance to know how they are seen by others; to see their.

Skills and style; and may improve communications between people. 360 degree feedback helps by bringing out every aspect of an employee’s life. Cooperation with people outside their department, helpfulness towards customers and vendors, etc. may not be rewarded by other types of appraisal.

This system also helps those who have conflicts with their manager. 360 degree feedback generally has high employee involvement and credibility; may have the strongest impact on behavior and performance; and may greatly

increase communication and shared goals. It provides people with a good all- around perspective. The Managing Individual Effectiveness (MIE) system at Bellcore is used for self development. It gets feedback from peers, managers, subordinates, and the rates themselves.

According to a Bellcore representative, the results’ are better working relations; better communications; more information on management performance and style; increased effectiveness and productivity of individuals and the organization as a whole; knowledge of training needs; a better grasp of organizational priorities; and greater employee input in designing self development plans.

The Bellcore rep noted that, for success, expectations must be communicated clearly; employees must be involved early; resources must be dedicated to the process, including top management’s time; confidentiality must be assured; and the organization, especially top management, must be committed to the program. This system requires a third party, such as a consultant, to begin the process, which may take months to start up. 360 degree feedback may be given directly to the employees, who have the option of discussing them with their managers; or it may be given to the managers for use in a feedback meeting.

Whichever method is chosen, training for the managers and ratees is necessary. Some off-the-shelf survey forms include job analysis techniques designed to form KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities required by a job) based on interviews, focus groups, and questionnaires. These forms may help to kill two birds with one stone, by helping to create valid job descriptions and then providing feedback on performance. The KSAs required by a job may be determined using traditional job-analysis techniques; competencies required by the job; strategic goals of the^ organization; development theory; or personality theory (e.g. communication or leadership styles).

Most businesses would benefit from better Communications’and management. A good review system could help to improve communications, while aiding people to increase their own effectiveness and to clarify their own jobs and responsibilities.

An innovative system could not only increase the perfomance of the staff, but also help them to work together, with common goals and fewer obstacles. It could help people to comment on others’ performance and perceived problems more freely. Even for a small business, one with a single owner or manager and three or more employees, 360 degree feedback, upward appraisals, and peer appraisals may be helpful.

They can bring out things which are normally never spoken, reducing tension, improving communication, and most likely raising the employees’ (or the manager’s) performance considerably. Involve your employees in the process. If they design the new performance appraisal system, they may be more dedicated to it- and both you and your employees can reap the benefits.

Communication Methods and Efficiency.
Vendors vary greatly in terms of both the different ways that they communicate with their customers, and how well they use those communication methods. Depending on your preferences in terms of media, some vendors will be a better match than others to the way you like to communicate. There is nothing more frustrating, when ordering a PC system or components, than not being able to get a hold of the company if there is a problem or if you have a question, so be sure to’ test out a company’s “communications skills” before making major purchases. Here are the most common ways that companies communicate with their customers:

In Person:
When shopping retail, the most important interactions will be made in person. While this seems simple enough, some companies do a remarkably poor job at this. The most common problem is understanding; in many stores you can visit in person and have a hard time finding anyone who will actually help you; or you may have to fight with a dozen other customers for the attention of the staff. Other stores have no problem letting you wait for 20 minutes in a checkout line while they have people in the back room “on break”. The best way to assess a store in this regard is to visit the store and see for yourself.

The ability to reach someone who can answer questions or help you with your order is essential for most online, direct-market or catalog sources. While online methods (see below) are also important for online vendors, nothing replaces the speed and ease of communication that personal voice contact represents.

Assess the reachability of every company by phone. Do they have a toll- free number or do you have to pay by the minute? Can you get through to a human qu ickly, or do you have to wade through ten levels of touch-tone menus? How long do you have to wait on hold before you get through? Long waits on hold sometimes mean the company is overwhelmed with unexpected demand, but just as often mean they are too cheap to hire more phone staff. Incidentally, the ability to reach someone by phone is also very important when buying a new PC at a retail store. You don’t want to have to go down to the store to deal with every issue, problem or question.

There was high hopes that by now most companies would be using email extensively to handle communications with their customers, because l think this has advantages for both the customers and the company.. Certainly it is a better use of a customer’s, time, compared to waiting on hold.

There are in fact some companies that use this medium to its full advantage, replying in a matter of minutes to product questions, requests for quotes or stock status inquiries. Unfortunately, most companies still seem to relegate email questions to their “this can wait” pile, and responses can take a day or more (sometimes much more) to arrive. Send an email question and see what the reply time is like before you rely on a company’s claims that they respond promptly to email. A large company that takes a full day to respond to email order questions isn’t taking the medium seriously.

The Web:
The Web is a “passive” communications method, and therefore inferior to the others listed above. You can read static information about the company or its products, and you can provide information about yourself or place orders.

This is useful, but very limiting, which is why I think it is extremely important when dealing with an online vendor to be sure that they are easily reachable on the phone. Most of these companies want you to order over the Web, and I can understand why: it saves them money. But web sites aren’t always up to date, and email often is too slow to resolve important issues. Be sure to keep this in mind.

DU SOL B.Com 3rd Year E-Commerce Notes

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