Successful Ecommerce Projects

Successful e-commerce projects have many complex stages and require inputs from all functional stakeholders in an enterprise.

Successful Ecommerce Projects

Starting with handwritten notes and a dozen Photoshop screens and finishing a project with a multi-site e-commerce production system with thousands of pages and a dynamic booking engine requires different skills and tools at each stage.

Ecommerce projects have many stages, complex components, cross-functional aspects and require inputs from all functional stakeholders in an enterprise.

  • Frameworks and Methodologies: It's important to decide up-front if a project is waterfall-like PMBOK or Prince, or Agile like Scrum or Kanban, or a hybrid like Scaled Agile. These decisions shape the entire approach to the project.
  • Requirements gathering: Interviews, briefing sessions, handwritten notes, screen mockups, prototypes can all provide the raw material for a requirements document or specification.
  • Product specifications: Product documentation is written and maintained and becomes the single source of truth for product development.
  • Product features: Business requirements are translated into product features which become discrete project tasks.
  • UX design: User stories and persona drive user experience design which manifests as website user interfaces, mobile apps, and other branded experiences.
  • Systems architecture: The technical e-commerce system needs to be designed and includes decisions such as build vs. buy, technical stack, and vendor ecosystems.
  • Code management: As the software is written and the e-commerce system built and configured, the code needs a source control system like Git or Hg.
  • Project management: Work is broken into projects and tasks and assigned to functional teams like developers, ops, or marketing. Tasks are specified and tracked.
  • Planning: Timelines can emerge with a project work breakdown, resources, and budget.
  • Communications: A communications plan will be used to set expectations for internal and external stakeholders, partners, and vendors. Emails, video meetings, status reports, burn charts, Gantt charts, demos, features list progress are all potential artifacts for communications.
  • Software development: The e-commerce software is purchased or made in the chosen tech ecosystem. Backend, frontend, or full-stack DevOps software engineers will work together and individually to write, test, and deliver software solutions to fulfill the project plan and the product specifications. Software development is generally done in an agile way within teams, even if the outward interface is to larger timelines and waterfall plans.
  • Documentation: Requirements, specifications, designs are development documents. Business documents include budget spreadsheets, Gannt, emails, presentations, business plans. Near delivery, documents include test plans, product manuals, help, and support documents.
  • Testing: Testing should be ongoing and real-time and built into the developer workflow. Business acceptance testing should gate projects as milestones such as version releases.
  • Team Management: Coordinating and communicating with a cross-functional team requires empathy, technical knowledge, energy, and passion.
  • Content management: The product catalog is itself a content management project which requires micro-management and often a dedicated or focussed team from marketing, product, and vendors.
  • Search organic and paid: Content funnels are used to bring paid and organic search and inbound links into conversion opportunities to sell.
  • Budget: People, software, computers, networks, and time cost money, and budgets are finite, often features or quality will be constrained by a budget that must be carefully monitored and spent.
  • Leadership: Servant leadership requires getting into the mix to breach the gaps when something needs to be done, to unblock a difficult problem, to make decisions on conflicting demands, or simply to get it done.
  • Sales and Metrics: Sales of products are the ultimate metric. Other secondary stats are abandoned cart rates, total purchase value, time spent on site, or page load speed.
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