De-risking Ecommerce Technology Projects: Issues & Solutions
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De-risking Ecommerce Technology Projects: Issues & Solutions

In this ecommerce podcast, James Gurd and Paul Rogers explain why businesses need to accept that risk is inevitable when embarking on ecommerce technology projects and give advice on how to implement a sensible approach to risk mitigation, based on experience working on a wide range of projects.

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All ecommerce technology projects involve people & tech and, therefore, have risk. This simply means things can go wrong, which can be both foreseen and unforeseen. For example, when a business decides to implement a new ERP at same time as migrating ecommerce, the risk is foreseen. However, if your Project Manager hands in their notice during the project, this is unforeseen.

Tune in for practical advice from two experienced ecommerce consultants who have either run or been involved with large technology implementations for a wide range of ecommerce and multichannel organisations of different sizes.

Tl;dr: what we cover:

  1. Why you need to accept risk
  2. A sensible approach to risk mitigation
  3. Common ecommerce project risks and how to de-risk them

Key Discussion Points

  • The importance of accepting risk and understanding different types of risk
  • Proven techniques for risk management and mitigation in ecommerce projects
  • Using risk registers and the art of escalation
  • Knowing how to prioritise: not all risks have the same severity
  • Common ecommerce project risks and what to do about them:
  1. Leaving an agency: telling vs. not telling:
    • Don’t tell = leave it to last minute, not being honest
    • Tell = open, honest, transparent, structure plan for migration to protect your business 
    • Caveat: when there is an existing failed relationship/grievance and risk of telling is higher as expect a deterioration in service and escalation in costs
  2. Team + capacity
  3. Integrations esp. ERP:
    • Solution lead internally to own this stream; contractor if required
    • Outsourcing integrations to specialist like Patchworks, Telescopic
    • Middleware is usually a good long-term approach – makes future integrations easier and also ensures data is clean etc.
  4. Project poorly managed and descends into chaos due to lack of project management resource and competency:
    • RACI demands business PM, not just technical PM
    • Smaller teams & projects: allocate % of someone’s time who had good organisation skills
    • Larger teams and projects: contractor PM with ecommerce migration experience
    • Business with lots of interdependent projects: recruit internal PM
    • Comms: internal kick off, regular play backs, collaboration tools e.g. Slack
  5. Unrealistic launch scope & scope creep:
    • Not having an MVP mentality; landing this with brand-led orgs who don’t think this way is challenging
    • Phasing and continuous optimisation
    • Buy-in on what ‘essential’ really means
  6. Content readiness:
    • Map content types and needs
    • Audit what’s fit for purpose what needs creating
    • Start this workflow before development starts!!!
    • Key one that trips people up – product imagery and reformatting for new designs
    • Banners: if you’re doing custom headers and have lots of URLs, lots of effort!
  7. UAT testing – getting shit done!
    • Start creating test scripts way in advance of when UAT begins
    • Iterative UAT throughout sprints, don’t leave it until the end
    • Get people involved: UAT owner, briefings, split it up and give clear concise instructions
    • Test result log, process for FAILS e.g. Trello boards with Kanban prioritisation

Want to suggest a topic or guest for a future episode? Contact us via the website or on Twitter.


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