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TechnologyJan 19, 2010

Critical Success Factors for eCommerce Projects

Justin Bell

I wanted to share my thoughts about the key benefits and success factors for eCommerce projects to minimize risk and set them up for success. From my experience doing eCommerce projects, I believe the following factors are critical to the success of the

initiative:

  • Proper project prioritization – Is this the right investment of your resources? The first key decision in a project is whether to start it at all or to invest in another area. This doesn’t have to be a complicated ROI / IRR / NPV calculation, but you need to be sure that the business value to cost proportion makes sense for this initiative. If you haven’t done that analysis – take a step back and make sure this is the best use of available resources.

  • Strong technical and project leadership – The difference between success and failure on projects like this is capability and dedication

    of the technical and project leadership. Technical design decisions made during the project will impact your efficiency for years to come and effective project management will ensure development resources are used as efficiently as possible and project issues and risks are appropriately managed to ensure project success.

  • Strong partnership and collaboration with the rest of IT – During this project it is critical that your development team believe in the

    architecture and approach that is being implemented. It is also critical that the team understands and becomes capable of development

    within the new architecture. After several months, this project will be completed and your team must be able to provide stewardship of the architecture while implementing new features. It is important that there is a strong cultural fit, capable coaching and mentoring throughout the project so that they will be ready to take the wheel when this project is over.

  • Strong executive sponsorship – Throughout the course of a large project like this there will be bumps in the road and tough decisions to

    make. With a good approach, you will know about these key decisions early and will get recommendations on the best course of action. It is then up to your leadership to help make these key decisions and support the project team throughout the project.

  • An Agile approach – Agile development methodologies (e.g., Scrum, XP, Lean, etc.) make sense for eCommerce. It allows you to quickly respond to changing business priorities and to begin seeing business value early. It is a must for eCommerce.

If these factors are in place, you are likely setup nicely to reap significant rewards from your eCommerce investments. If not – you likely need help getting here.