Article Published by America Retail
One of the most debated investments in the IT landscape focused on retail sales is the implementation of e-commerce or e-commerce platforms. And it is not surprising, because there is a rapid growth in this area. I want to explore how companies can complete these implementations without delays or emergencies, and how projects that need to come out of a state of emergency can be stabilized and rescued. Is there an approach that companies can take that really makes the difference?
The challenge facing most companies is that they are organized in silos. The development of e-commerce is usually carried out by an e-commerce vice president. This person may be aligned with the technical side of the company or with the marketing side, which generates a lack of knowledge about the other needs of the project. The marketing executive may or may not be at the forefront of e-commerce strategy. In some cases, the marketing team defines the budget and controls the e-commerce effort simply by determining how much money should be invested.
There is also the possibility of having a chief financial officer or a board of directors making budgetary decisions solely based on the financial situation of the company. Once the decision has been made, the principal or board of directors is disregarded for the rest of the process.
In applying this segmented and hierarchical way of making decisions, the strategic, creative, design, software architecture and implementation part usually ends up working independently of one another, with defined limits. One step ends and the next one begins. This can generate a faulty process, and result in a product that does not reach its potential.
The difference [between a problematic and an efficient implementation] comes from a disciplined approach, a process in reality, quoting Carl Jung, known as “Collective Consciousness.” We have developed this process during the 23-year history of ObjectWave, From having worked with custom development and now with semi custom development, using e-commerce packages like Hybris, ATG, Demandware and Magento.
The collective consciousness is our version of what in manufacturing would be Six Sigma or Kaizen. It can be defined simply as a set of shared goals, shared goals and responsibilities shared by each member of the group. If applied correctly, the unifying force generated by the collective consciousness gives the group a greater chance of success than if each member completes its part independently.
In this model, whether the success of the business is measured on the basis of sales, brand awareness, cost reduction or a better consumer experience, the goal is defined and shared by all those involved in the development of the brand. draft.
If the whole group practices collective consciousness, silos and lack of communication seem to disappear. By keeping two crucial individuals involved in the project – the solution architect and the project manager – it is possible to create collective awareness. Solution architect is often involved in the pre-sales phase, taking into account the needs of the customer and how they relate to the customer’s business, systems that need integration, objectives and functionality required in the process, Both now and in the future. The project manager, in addition to tracking the process and all the tasks that must be completed to make it successful, also maintains the relationships between the client and the consultant. It has an obligation to keep everyone involved on the same page in terms of the objectives and goals of the project, and acts as a unifying force.
These are the main elements needed to create collective consciousness:
- User participation: It is key to gaining acceptance and customer participation from the beginning. One mechanism is to introduce a user acceptance test at the beginning of development. In this way there is a clear understanding of how the project or platform will be seen before any implementation and allows the developer to obtain useful information about how the system will be used.
- Clear requirements: Although at first glance this seems to be an obvious element, it is surprising how often a client’s requirements are unclear. As humans, we may occasionally understand fuzzy logic, but computer programs do not have the luxury of operating this way. Being precise and clear about the requirements allows creating a universal understanding of how the system will be used.
- Realistic Expectations: Understanding the limitations of technology will allow the development team to set realistic expectations for all those involved in the project. Often, the development of a project is led by a business person whose understanding of technology is limited. Establishing reasonable expectations allows defining a project with appropriate goals and objectives.
- Proper Planning: This is another obvious requirement, but how often do we see that a project plan starts with an end date, but without a concrete idea of how to get there? Frequently, the established date drives development, and this sometimes makes development stressful and difficult. What is the point of focusing on meeting the given date when you end up with a product that is below expectations? With proper and conscious planning it is possible to avoid these difficulties and to promote the success of the project.
- Executive management support: This is an essential ingredient – a unifying force that comes from above and sends a strong message to all participants. There is no better person than an executive director to define the vision of a project and make sure it takes place from start to finish.
- Competent staff: Becoming an expert on a platform can take months or years, but surrounding yourself with a large percentage of certified development staff is an excellent start. Retaining certified staff and creating an environment that allows developers to grow and mature as professionals are two key elements in building a team that can meet and exceed your business expectations.
- Liability and ownership: When people feel that their projects are their property and are responsible for their work, they perform at a higher level. It is important to empower staff to take ownership of the different areas of project development and to enable them to be responsible for those areas in which they are focused.
- Clear vision and objectives: In an e-commerce project, knowing the vision and objectives helps the development staff understand the details of what they are building. It is important to remember that not everyone involved in an e-commerce endeavor understands the value of the business or effort goals. If everyone is given a global understanding, a common goal can be shared and achieved.
- Interim project achievements: Many aspects remain in the air when talking about the effectiveness of defining small targets and testing more models. One strategy is to try to develop the goals in ‘sprints’. Performing more frequent and smaller iterations keeps participants engaged and allows progress to be measured incrementally. This also allows you to make adjustments without having a big impact on the overall schedule.
- Hire hardworking and focused staff: Engineers, by nature, tend to be very focused. This is why it is not difficult to get engineers to work hard and stay focused. However, the other side of the equation is sure that all elements of the project are clearly defined. It would be difficult for an engineer to remain focused if the requirements were not precisely defined. You can think of engineers as computers – they want clear requirements, not fuzzy logic.
Even if you have managed to gather all the elements necessary to reach the collective consciousness, success is still not guaranteed. But, having qualified personnel involved in each instance of the process will be a prime factor in ensuring a positive outcome. People on the team should feel that they have the power to represent their area of expertise and make decisions that affect their work. Empowering staff also makes them take responsibility for their actions, and having responsibilities is the greatest motivation.
Team members should be experts with talent and knowledge. Taking into account where this article began, 80 percent of the developers working on Hybris projects have a core certification, and we are always working to get 100 percent certified.
Show respect to those who have knowledge, demonstrate the skills required and participate in teamwork creates cohesion in a group, which is a unifying factor.
The practice of a collective consciousness is more an art than a science, and is driven by a passion for success. The biggest fruit of its application, in my opinion, is the constant ability to complete projects on time and within budget, with the highest quality possible.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
ObjectWave is a full-service provider of digital commerce solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].