E-Commerce Project Management: A Guide for Fast-Growing Businesses
Global retail and e-Commerce are booming today. According to Statista, shopping online is one of the most popular activities among internet users worldwide. Only in 2020, retail e-commerce sales reached $2.28 tln and they are projected to peak at $5.4 tln by 2022. More and more companies start selling online and the number of e-Commerce platforms is growing rapidly.
With all that in mind, launching an e-commerce business is a rather complicated activity, especially for beginners. E-Commerce startups encounter a wide range of challenges, from launching an e-Commerce platform to sales management. All these require a well-elaborated strategy that involves an informed choice of project management (PM) methodology, a well-thought-out project management plan, and much more.
In this article, you’ll find out why e-Commerce project management is essential for a successful e-Commerce business launch, how to choose a proper PM methodology, and what steps e-Commerce companies take to ensure stable development of their projects.
What Is E-Commerce Project Management?
E-Commerce project management is a branch of traditional project management that has its own specifics. Basically, it is the practice of applying various skills, tools, techniques, and approaches as well as performing various activities aimed at the effective development of an e-commerce project.
E-Commerce project management heavily relies on time-tested traditional project management concepts and approaches, though applying them in e-Commerce is much more challenging than in any other sphere. Businesses have to quickly react to global, social, and business environment changes while striving to attract new customers and retain the existing ones.
Challenges e-Commerce Businesses Face Without Project Management
In e-Commerce, project managers (PMs) have to keep many activities under their control. They need to keep an eye on their competitors’ business development, be aware of the latest trends on the market, manage the development and maintenance of the company’s e-commerce platform, effectively cater to customer expectations, and much more. In such circumstances, it’s impossible to have a clear view on how to develop a business, let alone generate high-quality leads without a proper plan.
Good planning and careful choice of project management methodologies and tools allow e-Commerce companies to:
What Are Popular Project Management Methodologies?
A well-chosen methodology for an e-Commerce project allows businesses to avoid many uncertainties at the start. On the other hand, it’s often quite challenging to adapt one methodology to e-Commerce. For this reason, managers prefer combining several PM methodologies to better adjust them to the existing business requirements.
Here is the list of most commonly used PM methodologies in e-Commerce.
The Agile methodology works great for projects with frequently changing requirements. In Agile a product is divided into small parts and developed in iterations. After each development cycle, the team revise the results and consider what innovations they need to add so that the product better meets customers’ expectations.
Many PMs opt for Agile methodology as it allows gathering customers’ feedback throughout the development process. On the other hand, it’s much harder to foresee what the product will be like at the final development stage.
Scrum framework is commonly used for developing complex products. Scrum enhances communication between the team members, encouraging them to exchange knowledge of the ongoing processes and combining their efforts to deliver high-quality products. For this, the software development team gathers for short daily stand-ups and the development process is divided into weekly sprints. Each week the team reviews the product results and decides which features they need to implement next based on customers’ feedback.
The Scrum methodology brings teamwork into focus, therefore, it’s essential that each team member has enough experience in building the product and can promptly resolve any emerging issues.
Kanban is a lightweight methodology similar to Scrum. It also involves sprints and much communication. Meanwhile, Kanban gives project teams more development freedom. The sprints are shorter, the tasks are smaller and the team members can deploy any product changes during the sprints.
For Kanban, project teams use special boards divided into three categories: “To do”, “In-progress”, and “Done” with stickers that have tasks on them. By moving stickers across categories, the participants can track the progress and implement any changes during the product development process.
The Lean methodology helps project teams to quickly develop the product that satisfies customer needs the most. It removes all the insignificant features, concentrating only on the useful parts. For this, the team builds a minimum viable product (MVP) and introduces new changes and improvements to it at each development stage. This way, e-Commerce businesses create an already working product at an early project stage and invest time and effort in its improvement so that it delivers the most value to the client.
When opting for the Lean methodology, PMs have to keep in mind that it shifts its focus to the product value rather than the team. Therefore, there won’t be much room for training or frequent meetings.
The Waterfall is a time-tested methodology that works great for projects with clear specifications. The PM develops a product roadmap at the very beginning of the project and the team sticks to the plan without any deviations.
By using this methodology, PMs can simply calculate the budget and establish product development deadlines. However, it’s difficult to perform any product changes during the development process and the outcomes may fail to meet often changing end-user expectations. Therefore, Waterfall is frequently used for building “mission-critical” or small projects.
Ecommerce Project Planning Explained Step by Step
Once an e-Commerce company has chosen its PM methodology, it needs a well-elaborated project management plan. Project planning helps businesses stay within the timeline and budget framework, avoid common strategic errors, as well as keep everything in an organized manner.
Here are the steps an e-Commerce company can take to ensure the success of its projects:
- choose the PM methodology that suits best for the e-Commerce project – it’s not necessary to select only one methodology, mixing several of them make e-Commerce projects more flexible and easier to manage;
- analyze competitors – for a business to survive it’s important to be able to offer its users the best online store experience; for this, businesses monitor what tech innovations and methods their competitors use and how they position themselves in the market;
- carefully plan an e-Commerce project – for a smooth project development managers need to establish clear goals and KPIs, choose appropriate tools, consider the scope of work, define deliverables and their deadlines, estimate the budget, and others;
- gather a project team and determine workflow process – an e-Commerce project usually involves a strong team of marketing and IT specialists such as web designers, software developers, product researchers, sales representatives, and others;
- start developing an MVP – having a minimum viable product helps businesses to get profound feedback on customer needs at the early stage of software development;
- monitor the project development – when the work starts it’s essential to control how the development processes are going; for this PMs have to accurately manage time, the scope of work, and budget; one of the best ways to do it is to choose effective software and select the right communication apps;
- launch e-Commerce app and gather feedback – releasing an e-Commerce product to the market is always a big moment for a business; at this stage, it’s important to gather customers’ feedback and define further product development steps;
- continue iterating and testing ideas – after the product launch, businesses have to define further development steps, they can test their product, introduce its updates, and head back to planning.
Launching and managing an online business is a rather complicated and challenging activity. Therefore, e-Businesses have to be well-prepared and equipped for that. To facilitate e-Commerce project development and have everything under control, companies need to thoroughly choose the project management methodologies they want to use, compose detailed project plans, and gather a strong team of professionals.
SCAND, an experienced software development company, helps e-Commerce businesses to create robust and effective digital solutions which ensure their sustainable development in the market. For more than 20 years our software development team has been building various software solutions for e-Commerce businesses, including mobile apps, web portals, and platforms. Learn more about the e-сommerce development services SCAND offers and get your projects launched quickly and effectively.