In our last post we talked about the importance of identifying and addressing key internal and external system integration points when you are implementing and new B2B e-commerce platform. Now let's dive into the people and process part of the equation.
5 Tips for a Successful Implementation
- Involve key stakeholders throughout the entire project cycle—This goes beyond making sure that you have C-level buy in. This is all about managing organizational change throughout the business. When you are implementing a new e-commerce platform, it has the potential to affect almost every area of the business, from finance to fulfillment. Failure to include them in a meaningful way throughout the project will almost inevitably lead to resistance, scope creep, and a failure to meet expectations.
- Honestly assess your internal resources—All too often, IT projects fail because the internal resources don't have the right skill set. They might do an awesome job making things happen in your current environment, but they may or may not have the right skills to build and deliver the desired outcome on-time and on-budget (if at all). Work with your selected vendor to identify any potential gaps in skills and determine the best approach for bringing your team up to speed.
- Formalize your project plan and approach—It takes a strong leader to keep things on track and hold people accountable for deliverables. Make sure that the person who is managing your project has experience in managing large implementation projects; if you don't have someone on your staff, hire them. If you don't have a need for an ongoing project management role, turn to your vendor for assistance in filling this role for the duration of the project and assign an internal lead to work closely with them. It's worth a few thousand dollars of payroll or professional services fees compared to the cost of a project that goes over budget or fails.
- Test, test, test—This may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many applications are launched only to find out there are major issues after it's already in production. Use the requirements you documented as a foundation for building detailed use cases and test plans. Testing includes website functionality, hand-offs between systems, and performance.
- Have a contingency plan—Everyone wants to believe that their project will be a success out of the gate, but "just in case," it's important to have a rollback plan.
Setting reasonable expectations up front along with following these tips will help position you for a successful implementation.
Share in the comments below any tips or tricks you've learned in your own implementation; or what questions so you have before you begin the process?