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5 Tips for eCommerce Project success

There are many factors that contribute to the success of an eCommerce project, some of which are out of your control however I believe that there are five key areas that if implemented correctly and controlled efficiently should dramatically minimise risk to your project and send it on its way to success.
Requirements
It is not rocket science to suggest that a fully defined set of requirements are key to a project's success. It always amazes me the number of projects that start without these being completely defined, or those which start with very few requirements at all! Suffice to say, this will not lead to successful project delivery. I have seen a variety of different formats used for requirements, such as spreadsheets, word documents and many more. In my opinion, though, the medium does not matter they just need to be put down on paper and for the client to sign them off!
 
Design
Design is generally an area which is left far too late in the development lifecycle as along with requirements, wireframes should be signed off before development starts. These wireframes show the layout of all pages and help the customer to visualise the flow of customer journeys (the paths the user will take through the site) and ratify the requirements. This review process also helps to identify gaps or key requirements that are missing from the requirements document.
Once the wireframes have been agreed, the design (all the pretty stuff!) can be overlaid. This should also include outlining the strategy for scaling to small screen devices such as tablet and mobile. Designs should be signed off within a few weeks of development starting, if not before it starts.
 
Interfaces
Interfaces (integrating with 3rd party customer systems) are often the most complicated part of development. These are often warehousing, CRM, email or billing systems, but could include others. The interfaces must be investigated and designed thoroughly in order for pitfalls to be identified and designed around. Process flows should be drawn to indicate the data passing backwards and forward to each system.
Interface environments should be made available for the start of development in order for sample files, test data, artefacts or services to be created for use in development and unit testing.
 
Planning
This is the project manager’s day to day task, and this is exactly what it should be, it should not be something which is created once and never looked at again! The initial plan should be created in as much detail as possible, along with estimates that are as accurate as possible. The art is to manage (and update) the plan on a daily basis and assess changes in any of the tasks. This enables the Project Manager to easily see and be able to report the impacts out to the project team and Customer.
 
Reporting
Communication during the project is key and should be a continuous conversation between the Project Manager and the Customer. Weekly calls and reports are key for logging issues and risks and updating the key stakeholders on the status of the project, and is a useful medium for recording changes and actions. Here, at InventCommerce, we use a RAG report which contains the following sections:
    -  Customer Name
    -  Report Date
    -  IC Project Manager
    -  Person Submitted to
    -  Project Status (Red/Amber/Green rating)
    -  Project Description
    -  Delivery Date/Plan modification
    -  Accomplishments (since last report)
    -  Activities for this week
    -  Risks (with high/medium/low rating)
    -  Issues
    -  Key Milestones
This RAG report is discussed on the weekly call where each of the items listed above are discussed. This airs all issues and risks and starts the conversation of who will action each issue or the mitigations for risks. This helps build the relationship between the Customer and the Project Manager and leads to a transparent relationship (leading to no surprises at the end of the project!).
If all of these items are in place and agreed at the specified times, and kept up to date, this will help ensure your project will stay on track. Good Luck!