You've made the business case and, after an extensive search, you've partnered with a B2B e-commerce technology solutions provider, now it's time for the implementation, however this home stretch can be daunting.
It's estimated that anywhere from 50-70% of technology-related projects fail because of lack of resources, poor project management, and failing to define and document requirements (including integration points) before starting development. Here are a few more statistics that highlight how important it is to go into an implementation with well-defined requirements, a detailed project plan, and the right resources:
- One in six IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
- The United States economy loses $50-$150 billion per year due to failed IT projects. (Source: Gallup Business Review)
- 33% of projects fail because of a lack of involvement from senior management. (Source: University of Ottawa)
But DON'T WORRY! We're here to help you with tips to help you execute a successful implementation. This is a big topic, so we're going to split it up into 2 parts; part one will focus on integration points and in part two we'll dive into project management tips. With proper planning and the right resources, your project won't be doomed to become a statistic.
Addressing all possible integration points between your new e-commerce platform and both internal and external systems up front is one of the most important steps to ensure a successful implementation. You can design the best user interface in the world and fail miserably if you can't integrate the entire ecosystem to enable order fulfillment and customer service.
- CRM/ERP system integration – This is huge! The customer experience on your website is only as good as your back-end integration. Your new e-commerce platform should be mapped to your internal systems so you can provide visitors with accurate customer account, product and order status information.
- Full service payment gateway – Simplify transactions for B2B customers with business-offer specific payment methods, including credit cards and checks.
- Punch out catalog capabilities – Allow shoppers to browse your catalog through your ERP or other external systems and checkout through their own system.
- Excel import and export abilities – Make it easy for your customers to import and export data from their account. Providing tools that help them analyze purchase information is a feature that can really improve customer retention and turns you into a valuable business partner.
- Full integration with shipping providers – Meet all of your customers shipping needs with a completely integrated system.
Once you've accounted for the key integration points, you're ready to make sure that your resources are properly aligned and equipped to manage the project. Stay tuned for Part 2!