Although I generally like to approach these blog posts with some positivity, I was asked the other day by a new implementation partner of ours: “What are the typical things that can go wrong during an implementation project with your platform?” Of course I responded that most of the things that can go wrong have little to do with the technology and a lot to do with the project management and the customer situation. Later that evening as I was contemplating this blog post, I came across the movie title “Seven” on the cable guide (great film, great cast, but a little gruesome at times…).
Although they have changed over the years, the currently recognized list of the seven deadly sins (and those highlighted in the film) include pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. There’s got to be an analogy with eCommerce implementations, right? Well, maybe there’s not a perfect analogy for every sin, but there are definitely (at least) 7 major things that can cause your project to fail.
Here are 7 things to watch out for in eCommerce implementations:
Bad Planning: Not having a well thought-out and agreed-upon project plan can lead to missed deadlines, misaligned expectations and disappointment with the overall project. Many companies are working using an agile methodology to create shorter delivery timelines and regular check-ins with customers to make sure everything is on-task and to demonstrate regular progress in short intervals. These shorter planning and delivery cycles tend to accommodate changes more readily.
Poor Communication: Not keeping the customer up-to-date on progress and issues that arise during the course of the project can lead to missed deadlines and general dissatisfaction. Also, good communication among team members is also key to keeping things on track. An agile process helps with this aspect of the project as well.
Scope Creep: May be considered gluttony or greedy if you are going for every possible feature/function right out of the gate. The agile process tends to welcome changes and new requirements, but also dictates what needs to be reprioritized to launch on time with an MVP (see also, Compromise below). It is considered better practice to get the MVP (minimum viable product) out there and working before adding every feature you can think of, and flexible platforms allow for this.
Data Readiness: One of the big areas where projects can get off track, especially if there is integration involved, is not having your data in good shape. Problems here can involve simply bad data or having things like hundreds of different price schedules that need to be consolidated prior to creating those price schedules in your eCommerce system and assigning them to the right groups and users.
Creating New Business Process: Many times the eCommerce project includes the creation of new or different business processes. If you now have the capability to create automated approval rules, for example, this can cause the whole project to bog down while decisions are made about who gets to approve what. Again, this has little to do with the technology and a lot to do with the business process.
Failure to Compromise: As the project progresses there will be times when compromises need to be made and it’s important to make those decisions in a timely manner and understand that some problems can be addressed and resolved in the next release. Your eCommerce solution is a living and breathing thing. It will change over time and there are actually benefits to making changes & updates. You can message to your users about new features and create additional traffic and buzz about your site.
Buy-in: Is everyone on board with the project, senior management, sales, marketing, IT, etc. Many projects fail due to low stakeholder buy-in. If you are going to modernize your B2B business and initiate a digital transformation, your entire company must be on board.
As you can see, there can be many challenges to conquer, but getting your new eCommerce system implemented on time, on budget, and processing orders is definitely a project worth fighting for. At Four51, we use the agile methodology and work with professional services partners to guide our customers through the challenges and deliver successful implementation projects.