Mike Didonna, Project Manager at Avionos shares his thoughts on how to approach an eCommerce implementation project.
Re-engineering your site should start from the back-end out.
We’ve seen that traditionally, when most companies are deciding to re-platform their eCommerce site, their focus is on the front-end functionality and they base their vendor selections on how potential vendors can support and develop front-end functionality. However, during these projects, many difficulties arise when the selected platform must be heavily customized in order to support the organization’s business processes. Further difficulties often occur when front-end functionality, or user interface, is dependent on data that may or may not reside in client systems. IT departments, (who often own eCommerce projects) are unaware of the complexities to the business processes and the data needed to support a successful eCommerce engine.
We’ve also seen that these shortfalls can lead to surprise implementation costs. Furthermore, these surprises oftentimes lead to frustration on both the client and the system integrator’s side. Situations where front-end development isn’t aware of the back-office IT structure that’s needed for a successful implementation also adds additional layers of complexity to an already complex process.
Avionos has helped clients reduce project risk by analyzing what back-office systems need to be developed or modified in order to support the desired functionality before they select a platform or system integrator. During this process we’ve seen that clients will understand their data with more depth by identifying what data they will need, and how it can be exposed, before they begin the software and integrator selection process.
Lets take a standard eCommerce functionality like an order’s shipping status. This seems simple enough, right? Think again. To fully support this functionality there’s questions that an organization needs to ask itself:
- What is the system of record for shipping information?
- Do they split shipments?
- Does the user need to see the number of quantities shipped in each shipment?
- How does the system of record capture this information?
- What shippers do they use?
- Will tracking data be displayed on the shipper’s site?
- How will tracking links be stored and presented to the front-end system?
By thinking about standard eCommerce functionality from a back-office to front end mentality, clients can get a better sense of how prepared they are for an engaging eCommerce experience. This understanding creates greater certainty for clients around such projects. For example, knowing limitations of their systems can allow for a more detailed RFP. In turn, this will allow the integrators to create more detailed proposals that are based on real-time knowledge of existing systems and not assumptions.
Mike Didonna is a Project Manager at Avionos with over 15 years eCommerce experience. He’s helped both large and small organizations implement eCommerce platforms in both B2B and B2C sites. His project experience has varied from marketing focused to full-scale eCommerce implementations.