Here's part 5 in our series on how to avoid the pitfalls of e-commerce replatforming.
Google the words “unrealistic expectations” and the SEO engine will return a wide variety of results ranging from “why marriages fail” to “Leafs fail to score play-off spot – again”. The reality is that personal disappointments, financial set-backs, career failures and yes, even business projects that go off the rails, can trace their roots back to that initial set of expectations held by individual participants or stakeholders. When created or established at the outset of the journey without realistic and well-thought out planning and execution, those expectations are simply theoretical and speculative; impractical, improbable, unworkable.
How can you avoid detours, disappointment, cost over-runs or downright failures when your road to success is paved with unrealistic expectations?
For those engaged in an e-commerce replatforming initiative, failing to meet expectations can be more than disappointing; it can be a very costly mistake on many levels. One that has the potential toimpact budgets, wreak havoc on staff morale, alienate customers, and even open a wider door for your competitors to capitalize on.
So what does this mean for you and your e-commerce replatforming mission? Given that these projects are significant, many of them running from twelve to thirty-six months in length, there is ample time and opportunity for things to go wrong. And because the initiative will likely involve representation from every department in your organization, the scope of just how big a blow-up could be is quite broad. While the benefits of the project are clear and the ROI well defined, many clients want to know the best tips for risk prevention.
We talked to some of the brightest minds across our company. Here are the top five considerations they shared with us:
1. Include external experts on the delivery team
According to Forrester Research, bringing your CSP (Commerce Solution Provider) on to your project team and having detailed discussions upfront about scope, roles, responsibilities and realistic deadlines is a critical success factor.
Most CSP’s have tremendous experience, particularly where scope creep or other factors might sideline the initiative and can help in determining the right expectations regarding time-frames at the outset. Align bonus payments to milestones to help incent your CSP to meet critical deadlines.
2. Use cross-functional teams with understudies
Succession planning is an important strategy for leadership in many companies. Mentoring promising employees and readying them to take on key roles is how many organizations ensure high-value staff are groomed to remain on board. But attrition still happens and with your e-commerce initiative potentially lasting for more than a year, it is a great idea to have your internal subject matter experts duplicated.
Your subject matter experts are critical to the success of a replatforming project and their availability crucial for a timely delivery. Have a primary and a back-up for every role. It also helps for vacation coverage or when the day-to-day demands of a job mean specific people may not be able to attend a crucial meeting or approve documents tied to dependencies in a timely manner.
3. Make a dual-role map
Because your staff on team are usually taking on this replatforming project in addition to their day job, it is a great idea to map out how their normal roles and their project roles will intersect. Identify how they can accomplish both well. Involve them in the decision-making while you brainstorm success strategies.
This approach both empowers and reinforces how critical they are to the organization. This encourages team members as well as introduces positive levels of energy that are great for project and team dynamics.
4. Check references – even the bad ones
Vendors will provide you with their best customer references and you will check them as part of your process. But do some digging and find other customers on your own. Ask them to share the best and worst moments of their project. But don’t necessarily run away if their experience was less than stellar.
There is often more to be learned from projects that have slid sideways than their more successful counterparts. Project scar tissue does not always have to be earned to be useful. Take advantage of the hard won lessons of others to improve your own success ratios.
5. Build contingency plans
Think about the best project manager you ever worked with. Was he/she upbeat, positive, cheerful? Unlikely. Most great project managers are always looking over their shoulder. They expect the worst and plan for it.
While Murphy isn’t riding shot-gun on every project, it is likely he will raise his head from time to time. For the duration of your e-commerce replatforming initiative, try to anticipate worst-case scenarios and possible error conditions and have strategies ready to address and remediate them.
Ultimately replatforming is a team effort and a successful outcome is everyone’s responsibility. If you have any questions about implementing an e-commerce replatforming strategy, contact an Orckestra expert today.