B2B E-Commerce Project Management Best Practices
Have you ever wondered how businesses successfully do business, with other businesses? Sounds messy doesn’t it. Well that’s because it is.
Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to the ability to make purchases online quickly and efficiently. Now, the trend has turned towards B2B e-commerce: businesses have begun searching for a similar user experience to make things simpler when making intelligent business decisions. This has led to significant growth in B2B e-commerce as companies who are best in class with this competency are innovating so rapidly that they’re lapping competitors. Since 2002, ArcherPoint has focused on successful ERP project management—and this approach applies to e-commerce as well. This blog provides five best practices that we use for e-commerce project implementations so you can get an inside look on how we diffuse the messiness.
Begin with a business case
Before diving into any project, it is important to analyze the situation, create a plan, and come to a consensus on expectations. Creating a business case is standard protocol because it helps us create urgency within the project team and solidifies the path the project takes. We review the business case with the entire team and the client, ensuring that clear objectives are identified. All stakeholders should have a common understanding of the project and how it will influence the business. This is what occurs during the preparation phase of ArcherPoint’s project implementation process, and it is one of the most critical steps.
The most important characteristic of creating a business case is that it is flexible. A core component of ArcherPoint’s philosophy is that the plan is always changing because business is always changing. That is why we use the agile approach to project implementation rather than a waterfall approach. Waterfall project management approach is used when the company defines detailed project plans upfront. This can be ineffective as plans continually change during a project with the addition of new technologies, new requirements, etc. With the agile approach, the project is consistently reevaluated and the plan changes as more information comes to light. This ensures that the project implementation is as accurate and realistic as possible.
Include the IT team
Throughout a project, information visibility is one of the most valuable assets. We want our customers to have all the information they need when investing in our products and services. Providing this information will require robust functionality such as quick ordering, unit of measurement, etc. This is where the IT team comes in. They understand the role of our company’s ERP system – Microsoft Dynamics NAV - in providing this information to the online client in the most simple and accessible way possible.
Collaborate with clients
Collaborating with clients is the single most beneficial way to implement a project. At ArcherPoint, we make it a requirement for clients to be involved in the process from beginning to end because we are implementing their system. To fully understand the clients’ needs, vision, and issues, they must be a part of the entire process. Collaborating with clients during e-commerce transactions can be especially beneficial because not only can we transfer our knowledge and expertise to them, but we can learn from the client about their needs and how we can better serve them. In any business to business interaction, this collaborative effort is important to encourage learning on both sides, and to establish a nurturing relationship.
Being realistic is one way to avoid becoming overwhelmed. During a project implementation, our stakeholders may have various requirements, anywhere from ten to thousands. Prioritizing these requirements must be done at the beginning of a project, because we start with the minimum (based on time and budget, typically) and go from there. Beginning with a solid basis of “must haves” will make it much easier down the road to adjust and truly be ‘agile’ as more information comes to light. This is because once the most important requirements have been deemed feasible and in process, the other requirements that may not be as important can be focused on later.
Start small (it’s ok)
Although many project implementations are massive in scale, it is always vital to start small. You must allow your company enough time to thoroughly understand the situation at hand before making any changes. It pays off to start small by asking questions, getting relationships in place, and creating a flexible yet structured plan.
At ArcherPoint, these best practices have proven to be highly successful. As with any project, the most important thing to remember is to have a solid plan. The key however, is to allow yourself to change the plan as the project continues as this can lead to unnecessary hidden costs and unrealistic expectations.
If you’re thinking of expanding into e-commerce, we can help. Contact the experts at ArcherPoint for assistance with business analysis, project management, and of course, technology planning.