“Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien"
(The best is the enemy of the good)
|This article is a precious part of the hybris Project Patterns series.|
It is often the case that an e-Commerce project is only a part of a much bigger corporate program, spanning over a number of departments, countries and cultures.
Within that program projects start and finish, producing unique software, service or deliverables. It is the program that defines the common goals for the projects and the strategy to align them.
Many companies find themselves amidst internal long-term process harmonization when they embrace the idea of adopting a solution based on a favourite e-Commerce Suite.
Consequently, the e-Commerce project should be able to fit in the macro landscape of the enterprise program, if we want to achieve maximum results.
For an Enterprise, the new e-Commerce project is one of the strategic pieces in a corporate program. There is a need to align the new project within the existing major company’s activities or risk to face a lack of business support, due to people unavailability, department priorities and complex timing.
Guide the Business Client to prioritize their cross-project activities. This way you can help them realize their readiness to start the e-Commerce project in harmony with the other activities. Advise on adopting an Application Lifecycle framework, which would allow the Enterprise to oversee the various Corporate initiatives and their interdependencies.
A project, which enables Product Information Management (PIM) or digital commerce, always dares seriously the existing company processes.
One way or another, introducing a new software solution leads to improved automation of the current business. This brings stimulated work efficiency, powered capabilities and robust monitoring of processes.
Hence, it can be expected that this kind of a project would put on a test the current process flows, working habits and quality of activities.
In the life of a Company, consider the following events, which can disturb the internal process coherence:
- Various corporate processes around data sourcing and data government, related to strict rules about information management and delegation of work.
- Introduction of new Product lines, which adds varieties in existing product hierarchies, catalogs and offerings. This activity often entails redesign and further consolidation of product data.
- Acquisition of Subsidiaries and Company merges, which generally demands, among other things, alignment of processes and Product assortments.
- Consolidation of data sources – a process, which is related to unification and standardization of the available company data.
- Realization of Multichannel tactics – a corporate initiative, which usually demands careful audit of the existing multichannel capabilities in the enterprise. As a result, it refines the Product data, in order to ensure consistent information in every channel and customer touch-point.
- Content production and Translation of information – two related activities, dedicated to the provision of complete and localized data, used by the company and its clients in an Internationalization setup.
- Usage of office tools, utilized by the company’s business units that deal with data.
… and so on.
In one of our projects, several Client departments needed to establish a common way of working with Product data structures. We noticed that each department had worked in isolation, like secluded kingdoms – they had different visions over the data structures and processes. Provided that one of the first steps in a commercial PIM project is defining the product model, it became crucial to resolve first the internal process dependencies before even understanding the to-be Product model in your underlying e-commerce solution.
On another case, the Client had to align the company’s responsibility around Product and Content governance. At the start, it was not clear whose responsibility that was in order to even define System Actors, user experiences and workflows. Once completed, we could move on to set up correct user roles and access restrictions on the data.
Channeled Communication and guided discussions prove to be good methods in steering the processes into the right direction.
It becomes evident that the e-Commerce project deliverables depend on certain in-company harmonization efforts and it is vital to prioritize them properly before planning the implementation. Thus, often, the e-Commerce project should be considered as a part of a larger e-Business program, where processes and features are properly planned and accounted for.
Place of an e-Commerce Project within the Client’s Corporate Chart
When it comes to short and long terms activities within a company, three concepts define the strategic landscape of the Enterprise – project, program and portfolio.
A project can be defined as a relatively short-term undertaking, which produces a result, a product or a service. A project usually has a start and an end, a budget and resources assigned to it. When logically grouped together, projects represent a program, which provides certain benefits or efficiencies for the company. A program must have clear objectives, defined by the stakeholders and planned realizations (projects) to fulfill those goals. A program can take years and usually involves complex grid of projects, executed by various departments. Finally, a portfolio is a global overarching structure, which aligns all projects in achieving the corporate strategic business objectives. A portfolio defines unique selling points and differentiator tactics, needed for a decisive business success. The portfolio embodies also corporate investments, a vision and beliefs about the business of all departments and employees.
An e-Commerce project usually plays an important role of an Enterprise program, and should be, therefore, strictly aligned with the corporate portfolio. On a macro scale, the Enterprise should possess a chart that depicts all running project activities and the expected benefits from them.
There are various frameworks, which allow overseeing individual projects and harmonizing them in an overall program.
When it comes to managing global changes within companies my choice falls on the popular Agile Scaled Framework, SAFe, designed by the author and consulting methodologist Dean Leffingwell. It serves as an interactive knowledge base for agile portfolio and program management at enterprise level.
Placing the e-Commerce project in the landscape of such a framework can provide the business stakeholders with a thorough overview about cross-project interests and their priorities.
|By applying similar frameworks as SAFe, one can easily observe, realize and manage a number of company programs. Hence, align your e-Commerce project with the rest of the enterprise activities. Ensure that you have the support of the departments involved. Always position the project goals within the cardinal objectives of the Business Client – communicate those objectives to project members. This way you would open the door for a proper realization of the project, adding true value for the Client corporation and its strategy.|
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