GUIDE TO PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND PLANNING FOR E-COMMERCE

05 Nov 2019
Oksana, copywriter
To avoid the negative consequences, start with determining what you intend to achieve.
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The popularity of e-commerce is growing at a blistering pace. Many companies around the globe regard the internet as a powerhouse with high commercial capacity and opportunities to boost their business and attract more customers.

Those companies are completely right – more and more people prefer clicking the mouse over walking for hours when they need to buy something. Online stores nowadays provide their customers with more possibilities for less effort. But how to make people buy on your website, not any other? The answer is in thorough planning and management of e-commerce.

What Is E-commerce project management?

Have you ever heard of e-commerce project management definition? Effective management goes beyond having a clear-cut strategy with established scope, quality, budget, and deadlines, though it is still vital. Being a manager you need to organize and motivate the team as well as keep all the processes under control. The main idea that lies behind project management is to create all the conditions to achieve e-commerce project objectives.

Now there are many tools, methodologies, software available. They are constantly evolving to make e-commerce project planning and management much easier.

The role of e-сommerce projects management in company life

With the fast development of the e-commerce sphere, it’s important to be caught up with all the changes and innovations. This is just one of the reasons why companies need e-commerce project management.

In other words, provide a solid plan and stay on top of things in order to identify the biggest challenges and bottlenecks of the project.

Challenges you face without e-commerce project management

Some online retailers end up having no idea of the direction in which their e-store should be developed. It happens when they do not pay much attention to what’s happening on the market, who they should cooperate with, what technologies are used in today’s world.

Don’t have a solid plan for your e-commerce project, – be ready to face issues like falling behind schedules, skipping small but essential tasks, the complete mess inside the workflow steps, not getting the desired profit.

First- defining your objectives

To avoid the negative consequences, start with determining what you intend to achieve. Why are you doing it all? Where are you moving to? Once the target is acquired, keep your eye on it. Try and make the goal as specific as possible, take into consideration your target customers and their needs.

Choosing a project management strategy

To make your life easier, there are a lot of various project management strategies you should know about. The thing you need to do is to choose one that suits you the best.

Here are some of the most popular strategies that may come in handy:

 

Lean

This approach to management brings constant improvement. New changes and improvements are added on each stage. The main aim of this management structure is to create value for the client. The method involves a continuous workflow to keep away from roadblocks and delays.

By clarifying the features on each stage lean management helps to save time and energy wasted for redoing.
Lean methodology focuses on important features, avoiding unnecessary tasks and meetings. All the stages should be implemented fast.

Instead of long-term implementation planning, this approach estimates the efficiency of the work done on each stage.
However, the main focus on value and not quality may have its drawbacks too. The lean methodology doesn’t pay much attention to meetings and training.

Agile

Agile is also an iterative methodology but the difference is that some part of the final product is developed on each stage.
The great advantage of it is that the customer’s feedback is received for each implemented feature and that contributes greatly to constant development.

If you choose this methodology it means you’d rather respond to innovations and changes in the workflow than follow blindly a strict plan, which is not necessarily right to the end. But take into account that this fact may mean that it is harder to predict what the final product will look like if you use this management system.

Waterfall

In case you have a small team and want to know for sure what the final product should be like, Waterfall management methodology is the right choice. It is one of the oldest models and some people already regard it as outdated.

An important role in this management methodology is given to a simple and distinct structure. In its lifecycle, every project has a set of steps like collecting necessary data, designing, implementation, testing, and deployment.

The main principle is a logical progression of processes – no new stage can be done before the previous one is fully completed. This leaves little place to introducing some changes into some steps after they were finished.

Scrum

This method focuses on team uniting their knowledge and efforts together to produce a ready-for-use project of high quality.

It all starts by discussing the main objectives and wishes of the client. Scrum uses sprints, each of them results in a ready product that is later improved in the next sprints.

Short meetings (up to 15 minutes) on a daily basis are conducted to see the progress, discuss the problems (if there are any), and plan the tasks for the day.

As a lot of attention is dedicated to teamwork, it’s important that every member of the team is experienced and ready to respond to challenges quickly. Otherwise, the implementing of Scrum won’t be efficient enough.

Kanban

Kanban methodology has much in common with Scrum. There is still a visualization of the progress made showing the whole workflow.

This methodology provides the possibilities to implement the changes not only at the end of the sprint but at any time these changes are needed.

In order to develop and deploy features faster, Kanban puts the focus on smaller sprints and shorter cycle times.

Putting the right team structure in place

Finding a relevant project management methodology is still not enough. How your team is structured is also a question of great importance.

There are several types of team structure, depending on the number of members, the tendency to distribute tasks and hierarchy structures. The main team kinds include a self-managed team, a problem-solving team, a virtual and a cross-functional team.

You should know the people working on your project really well to know which type of team structure and organization of work within members will be the most efficient.

How to plan your e-commerce projects

As soon as you are ready with the most suitable for your project management methodology, you can move on to the next stage – planning.

For the successful project plan for e-commerce business, you need to conduct competitive research and find out who is who in your sphere of e-commerce. Studying other e-stores’ practices may help you to adopt useful features, know your customers’ preferences and avoid some mistakes.

Then, it’s good to set the roles. Determine who can do what in the team and if necessary – hire more professionals.
Your next step is dividing the whole project into smaller tasks. Tell your team who is responsible for each team. In order to increase the concentration on specific aspects – set the duration for each sprint and define the main points.

Here comes the implementation of the tasks and of course testing. Don’t hurry and make sure that the product you deliver is of the highest quality and meets all the requirements. Drop what is redundant and make sure you can change what is unnecessary.

Start with an MVP

If you want to be sure that you are moving in the right direction,- start with launching a minimum viable product (MVP). MVP is a ready product, having only the main features of what the customer wants to see as the final result. It will help you to save your money and identify weak sides in the early stages.

Define a workflow process

Make clear all the stages and processes for your team to let the delivery flow smoothly.

First of all, discuss all the details and requirements concerning the project with your clients. Such meetings not only give an overview of work to be done, it also gives you the necessary data concerning planning, estimation of time and budget.

Divide then collected data into sprints and distribute the tasks among team members. Don’t forget to visualize each step – to see what you have and what you need.

Meetings are important to see the changes and define the obstacles on the way. Daily, Weekly or after every sprint,- don’t be afraid to spend time on such discussions – you will see how beneficial it can be.

ou already know the stages of the development process- following them strictly will lead you to the successful deployment to production and achieving the main objectives of the project.

Team communications

To maintain communication inside the team, you can use various e-commerce project management software: Jira, Slack, Dropbox. You definitely have heard of at least some of them.

The choice depends on what is more comfortable for you, how much money you are ready to pay and what features you need for clear-cut communication.

How to manage Time, Scope and Budget

All e-commerce project managers know about three often-occurring problems in the project development process: missing deadlines, not fitting into the budget and too much redoing due to poor quality.

There are many solutions to these issues. For example, leaving a place for iterations can help you avoid introducing too many changes in the course of development. You may not even notice how it makes the whole process slower.

Want to avoid schedule delays? Set reasonable deadlines and find the reason why some projects are not delivered on time. There must be something wrong either with the processes or with the people.

Best project management apps

Here are three main helpers in keeping track of the project’s workflow:

Trello provides the opportunity to create an unlimited number of cards, categorize them and make lists.

Asana – has a great positive feature – it is very flexible. You can apply it with both small and big teams. Other useful stuff available: setting priorities and due-dates, implementing real-time changes and custom views.

If you need more customizations and need to receive inputs from the whole team, choose  Jira. It is very easy to learn, teach and use. And one more great plus – this management app allows implementing both simple and complex workflows.

There is one more tool that deserves your attention. Redmine is a comfortable, free and open-source management application. It uses a ticketing system and provides the users with the possibility of  “chunking” projects into smaller in order to improve productivity

Tips for planning and management e-commerce projects

As you can see, everything becomes simple if you follow a simple project management plan for e-commerce as well as the principles below:

  • choose an appropriate management and planning methodology;
  • investigate the market and observe how it changes;
  • keep track of time, scope and budget;
  • be sure your team structure corresponds to the project’s demands;
  • use various software for tracking project workflow and project management tools for e-commerce to maintain communication within the team.

Or you can do it more simply – contact SapientPro. We know how to manage e-commerce projects and our team will help you to make your e-commerce website good-looking, user-friendly and profitable.

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