The booming eCommerce business has made it possible for online shoppers to purchase anything from anywhere with the click of a button. This has been great for consumers and businesses looking to expand their consumer base. However, the boom has also created stiff competition, making it even harder for just any eCommerce website to stand out.
Currently, there are more than 26 million eCommerce stores globally with the U.S., at 9.5 million stores, leading. That considered, it’s no longer enough to launch an eCommerce and wait to see how it does. You must master effective project management practices to guide you through eCommerce product development.
In this post, we’ll provide a simple guide to eCommerce project management by discussing suitable project management methodologies and effective eCommerce project planning. First, let’s start with the basics.
What is eCommerce project management?
eCommerce project management is the use of project management skills, knowledge, tools, and techniques to ensure the success of an eCommerce project in order to fulfill set requirements and goals. Good eCommerce project management ensures the project is successfully executed, completed on time, and within the allocated budget. Besides these things, good eCommerce project management has other benefits for your online stores, including:
- Boosting your store’s efficiency: Good eCommerce project management involves creating a product roadmap that makes it easy to identify and predict future risks and challenges. As a result, it helps you launch products with the right integrations, ideas, and tools to boost your store’s efficiency.
- Higher customer satisfaction: Good project management will streamline your business processes, resulting in excellent services and high-quality products. This leads to happy and satisfied customers and a high eCommerce conversion rate.
You might wonder why eCommerce businesses have an eCommerce project management outline. Well, here’s why.
eCommerce businesses must be aware of the latest business trends along with environmental and political changes. Also, emerging technologies might affect eCommerce projects. Because of this, eCommerce project managers must constantly adjust their project management plans. eCommerce project managers have a huge role to play, but with good eCommerce project management practices, these challenges are fairly easy to overcome.
5 eCommerce project management methodologies to use
Picking the correct eCommerce project management methodology is crucial to the success of any eCommerce business because it guides your project manager(s) on how to execute your project plan in the best way. As a result, they can avoid or easily overcome the uncertainties that come with eCommerce project management.
Here’s a list of the five project management methodologies you can use in eCommerce.
1. Agile project management
The Agile project management methodology involves dividing a project into smaller phases, called cycles, developed in iterations. Each phase focuses on a different project element, and you end up with a working product in the last phase.
Your team revises each development cycle's results and decides on the innovations or features they need to add to create a product that achieves greater customer satisfaction. This makes it an ideal choice for projects like new products or those regularly going through changes.
The development cycles also allow customer feedback and the flexibility to adapt the input throughout the process. This supports continuous development, which leads to better products that meet customer expectations.
Here’s an image showing the general Agile project management workflow process of a single cycle:
The downside of the Agile method is the difficulty of foreseeing what the final product will look like in the final stage of your project. That’s because you only work on specific elements per cycle.
The Kanban methodology divides the project into short sprints. The sprints are a period of time when your team must complete specific tasks. The sprints have shorter life cycles, and your team takes on smaller tasks.
The Kanban method is a popular Agile methodology because it gives project managers complete transparency. The methodology allows you to divide the tasks into categories like “to do,” “in progress,” and “done.” You can use sprint planning tools, like Tara, shown below, to help determine what tasks need to be completed in a particular sprint and how to complete them.
The best project management tools provide a great view of your project’s timeline. This makes it easy to track individual tasks, sprints, and the overall progress of the project.
The Kanban methodology focuses on continuous product development through regular changes and updates. This gives your team more development freedom, allowing them to implement changes quickly and shortening the time needed to deploy changes to your product.
The major disadvantage Kanban has is the limitations on multitasking in your team since team members have to be on specific tasks in each sprint. However, it remains one of the best eCommerce project management methodologies.
3. Lean project management
The Lean methodology is an iterative project management method. However, unlike Agile methodology, it involves short cycles of polishing your working product until you achieve the desired outcome. For example, for an eCommerce business, this would mean constantly updating an already-created online shopping app to ensure it delivers value to your customers.
While Lean project management encourages constant improvement, it only focuses on crucial features and tasks. Correspondingly, it enables your eCommerce teams to develop minimum viable products. These are products with just enough features that are continuously updated based on customer feedback. This continuous workflow saves you time and resources that you’d otherwise waste redoing your product.
The methodology focuses heavily on delivering customer value over any other aspect of eCommerce, which is great for a business. However, you must avoid abandoning the other elements of your eCommerce business, like your team, since you might lack time for meetings or training.
The Scrum method also uses iterations, known as sprints, which involve dividing the crucial aspects of your eCommerce business project into sections during a sprint planning meeting. The team then selects, or is assigned, tasks that are known as a sprint backlog.
After that, you’ll have short daily stand-up meetings of around 15 minutes for quick reviews of the task progress, any issues your team might be encountering, and upcoming tasks. Besides that, the development process will be divided into weekly or biweekly sprints.
The sprints allow your team to review product results and discuss features and updates that need to be implemented based on customer feedback. These frequent meetings ensure that each member is on the same page, leading to high-quality results.
Here’s a great visualization of a Scrum framework.
Scrum encourages using small, flexible teams of less than 9. The team should be comprised of the scrum master, product owner, and development team.
5. Waterfall project management
The Waterfall methodology is one of the oldest project management methods. However, it’s still being used by various businesses now. This method uses a sequential project management method, while the rest use the iterative method that we discussed above.
The sequential method means that you must create a project plan in the beginning, which you follow until the project’s completion. You must follow the phases, which will vary based on your project. Here’s an example of the Waterfall phases.
This methodology may be ideal for small eCommerce projects with a clear mission and a solid goal. However, it’s inefficient for larger projects that require your team to work on various aspects simultaneously in a short period. This is because no phase in the Waterfall methodology begins until the prior one is complete.
It’s also not the most flexible. On top of that, it’s usually difficult to have all the details needed at the beginning of the project.
Ecommerce project planning
Once your eCommerce business has chosen the appropriate project management methodology, your next step is creating an effective eCommerce project plan. The plan helps you keep everything organized while ensuring you stay within the timeframe and allocated budget.
Your eCommerce planning process will vary based on your chosen methodology, but there are some crucial tips you must consider.
Conducting a competitor analysis
As we mentioned earlier, the eCommerce sector has stiff competition that will only grow over time. So, conducting a competitor analysis before you create your eCommerce plan is crucial.
A competitive analysis allows you to identify your current eCommerce product position and provides valuable insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, you can learn from your mistakes and find gaps you can fill to strengthen your position in the eCommerce market.
You can use an eCommerce SWOT analysis, like the Amazon one, shown below, to determine what strengths, opportunities, or weaknesses to work with.
To have a more accurate competitor analysis, ensure you analyze data from various sources or platforms. For instance, if you’re analyzing their marketing strategy, collect data from their email marketing campaigns, paid ads, SEO activities, and social media.
Defining the project’s goals
You can’t have a successful project without knowing what you want to achieve from it, which is why it’s important to define your project’s goals. There are various factors you should consider before creating these goals.
First, you need to determine your purpose, which you can do by placing the customer at the center of your project. The best way to find this out is by asking, “How will our eCommerce project benefit our customers?”
Next, considering there will always be project risks and mitigating factors that can affect your eCommerce plan, it’s crucial to involve all your stakeholders in your goal-setting process. This will give you different insights into the variables that might affect your project.
Finally, always be open to reassessing your project goals to be more realistic or to match any changes that may occur in the project development process.
Outlining your workflow process
Your workflow process will provide your eCommerce team with an overview of the task to be completed, the time estimate, resources, and the appropriate budget. Start by dividing your work into sprints, and then assign the tasks under each sprint to the relevant team members.
Always schedule meetings, either daily, weekly, or monthly. After each cycle or sprint, determine if there are any issues to resolve or updates to implement.
Effective time and cost management
One of the best time management practices, especially for remote teams, is having deadlines for individual project tasks. Once you hit these deadlines, you’re more likely to complete the project in the estimated period. This is another area where project management tools, like Tara, come in handy.
The other option to manage your time is by using project management apps or time management software, like DeskTime, shown below. The project management application or software will help you identify areas where your team is wasting time by tracking the time spent on each task. You can also identify areas that require more time to be allocated.
For cost management, the best solution is sticking to your eCommerce project budget. Also, try to save money where you can. For instance, if you’re working on growing your vendor list, you could save money by getting a reseller license that exempts you from paying sales tax.
Remember, a well-planned project with continuous iteration requires less rework over time. Because of this, your choice of project management methodology might just save you money.
Continuous iteration and testing
In the eCommerce industry, there’s nothing like a perfect product. However, due to emerging business trends and new tech like AI in eCommerce, you must keep improving your product through continuous iteration and A/B testing. Iteration and testing is also the best way to discover what your customers want from your eCommerce product.
To develop eCommerce products that stand out in the market, you must first understand and practice effective eCommerce project management. One of the most crucial steps of eCommerce project management is choosing a methodology, either Agile, Kanban, Lean, Scrum, or Waterfall.
After choosing the methodology, eCommerce project planning is the next step. The main steps while creating an eCommerce project plan include conducting competitor's research, creating project goals, outlining the workflow process, effective time and cost management, and finally, continuous iteration and testing.
By following this guide, you’ll make your eCommerce project management strategy better and improve your business's bottom line.
Published November 10, 2022