January 02, 2001, 1:57 PM — CHANCES ARE YOUR organization has an e-business committee, and it's probably relatively ineffective at bringing about rapid change. Although an e-business committee can support a company's moves to "Webify" aspects of an existing business model, it's unrealistic to expect it to develop new business strategies. In fact, to do so is dangerous.
If an e-business committee begins to work on initiatives that change the way the enterprise generates revenue or if it alters existing channels and key strategic supplier relationships, it's time to cede that work to an appropriate business development area. But if you still want an e-business committee, I offer the following advice.
Create three teams: The most effective organization to govern e-business is one that includes the authority for the budget, as well as the responsibility to enact and enforce decisions. Few committees have that level of power, so their goal must be to earn the respect of senior management in the enterprise and obtain that license. Form three separate teams, each focused on one dimension of e-business: strategy, business unit requirements, and technical architecture. Each committee must be "in the loop" to review all e-business-related project proposals, make allocations of resources in times of contention, and have the ability to "just say no" to concepts that are counter to the organization's overall e-business objectives.
Ensure that key e-business projects are represented: E-business committee members should be designated by their management as participants on the committee, and attendance at meetings must be viewed as an essential job responsibility. Job performance metrics should include a measurement of the value they add to the committee. Members must make a commitment to attend all regularly scheduled meetings or to send a delegate with decision-making capability. Generally, it is best to tap the senior manager of the business unit for the committee. Although the goal is to have all business unit managers represented on the committee, it should not be so large that decision-making is slowed.
Establish six-month meeting schedules and three-month agendas: Well-organized committees establish a six-month running schedule of meetings to allow all committee members to plan their time. Similarly, specific meeting agendas should be planned three months in advance, with the ability to make adjustments prior to the meeting to include "emergency" topics. Agenda items should be clearly marked as informational, for discussion purposes, or for decision-making. Before adding any topic to the agenda that is informational in nature, the chairman should make sure that it is important enough to spend time on. Many informational topics can be handled better via e-mail or written report.