Ecommerce replatforming checklist

Learn what steps you need to take to guide you through platform vendor selection and an agency partner (systems integrator) RFP process. Benefit from 16+ years’ experience in ecommerce projects.

In this replatforming checklist you’ll get:

  1. Step-by-step actions for your ecommerce replatforming project
  2. Good practice insights to boost your project management expertise
  3. A structured checklist to evaluate your current approach & identify gaps
  4. A free downloadable PDF checklist to use in your project.

Get your copy of the 26-page website replatforming checklist.

This checklist accompanies the free 10 part ecommerce replatforming video masterclass series.

Ecommerce replatform projects are complex by nature and often compromised by planning and project management issues. Having worked on a wide range of projects both as a Head of Ecommerce and as an independent consultant, for organisations including House of Fraser, Victoria Beckham and RSPB, I've first hand experience of the dos and don'ts of effective project delivery.

This checklist gives you a set of standards against which to evaluate your own project set-up and delivery, helping you ensure you've applied the right discipline and attention to detail to help drive a successful outcome. In this guide you get:

  1. Step-by-step actions for your ecommerce replatforming project.
  2. Good practice insights to boost your project management expertise.
  3. A structured checklist to evaluate your current approach and identify gaps that need filling.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss a replatforming project, please email james@digitaljuggler.com or call me on 07794 539 399

Checklist aligned with project stages

It pays to have an over-arching set of principles for your replatforming project and capabilities that need to be satisfied within the project team. To help ecommerce teams plan for a business critical project, I've translated my multi-project experience into a structured checklist to cover 10 sequential stages for project delivery.

For each stage, you'll find a checklist and a summary explanation of what is required. Each stage has an accompanying masterclass video, which are free to watch. Use the quick links if you want to fast track.

  1. Project set-up & governance.
  2. Project budget & scope.
  3. Project management essentials.
  4. Business requirements capture.
  5. Platform selection.
  6. Building a TCO cost model.
  7. Platform due diligence.
  8. Partner selection RFP.
  9. Partner due diligence.
  10. Risk analysis and mitigation.

Stage 1: Project set-up & governance

Before any work is done, it's important to ensure your project has a clear structure, with a board-level sponsor appointed to ensure it gets the buy-in needed from across the business, as well as ensuring external providers take it seriously.

The age-old saying, 'Act in haste, repent at leisure' applies here. Think carefully about the guiding principles for your project, and ensure that decisions made at this stage are agreed unanimously, are realistic and achievable.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Appoint board level Project Sponsor.
2Appoint senior stakeholder with ecommerce experience as Project Owner.
3Define and agree the project goals and objectives.
4Define success outcomes and how they will be measured.
5Define KPIs to measure success and benchmark where applicable.
6Define the project stakeholder groups and individual stakeholders.
7Define the project governance structure and process.
8Agree if Steering is required and which stakeholders will be on the Steering Group.
9Define reporting mechanisms and frequency.
10Define escalation path and responsibilities.
11Define communication requirements, processes and tools.
12Create a governance charter for the project and distribute to stakeholders.

Stage 2: Project budget and scope

With a clear structure in place, you now need to define the parameters for the project.

Start with budget. Identify all the cost streams applicable to the project, get the maximum amount signed off with the Project Sponsor and Finance Director, and communicate this to the project team.

Next define the scope of the project. Think about what must be delivered for phase 1, and what else you want to be included in scope but which can be deployed in later releases.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Define project cost streams e.g. initial build, licensing, hosting etc.
2Agree and sign-off realistic budget for each stream with Sponsor and Finance Director.
3Document which budget pots each cost stream is allocated to, and who owns the pot.
4Agree a contingency budget to cover project scope creep or unforeseen issues.
5Create a high-level definition of the project scope.
6Agree prioritisation criteria for scope items e.g. MoSCoW.
7Review scope with key stakeholders and refine to create an approved scoping document based on the agreed prioritisation criteria.
8Get scoping document approved and signed-off by Project Sponsor.
9Review project phasing and define your MVP (minimal viable proposition) version of the project scope.
10Use prioritisation criteria to define priority order for non-MVP scope items.
11Flag high-level requirements in the scope that need further business case justification.
12Work with appropriate stakeholders to assess business case for each requirement.
13Make recommendation to Steering and Project Sponsor based on the outcome of business case assessment.

Stage 3: Project management essentials

Project management discipline will make or break your project. The most successful projects I've worked on have had brilliant, experienced project managers in control of delivery.

Appoint an internal project manager with experience in complex technology projects and who has a track record of working with stakeholders at all levels, right up to board level. The project manager will be responsible for the project charter and setting up your project office to ensure there is a clear process for getting you from set-up to go-live as efficiently as possible.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Appoint an experienced project manager.
2Set-up the Project Office (physical or virtual, the people and tech that the PM needs to deliver the project).
3Create the project stakeholder RACI matrix.
4Define the decision-making paths and stakeholders responsibilities.
5Create a PID (project initiation document) and distribute to all stakeholders (internal and external).
6Create a RAID log (Risks, Actions, Issues & Decisions).
7Define and approve the project collaboration toolkit (systems, processes, people etc.).
8Set-up and test all systems and processes that will be used for project collaboration.
9Brief all stakeholders on their roles and responsibilities.
10Set-up project reporting tools and distribute draft reports for review and approval by Steering Group.
11Set-up key project meetings and invite required attendees.
1212 Agree process for on-boarding new project stakeholders with senior stakeholders and Project Sponsor.

Stage 4: Capturing business requirements

In my experience, trying to select your platform by evaluating a full list of all functional requirements is fools gold. It adds unnecessary time and effort.

Most requirements are hygiene factors for ecommerce platforms e.g. Wishlists; they can all do them, to varying degrees. A sensible approach is to identify business critical requirements and make these the focus for your platform analysis e.g. integration with your ERP, alignment with your RMA process.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Agree with Project Sponsor and Project Manager the stakeholder interview set.
2Create stakeholder interview guides and pre-planning briefs.
3Brief stakeholders on interview requirements and format/style.
4Book all interviews into diaries and add a clear agenda.
5Run interviews and document key insights as meeting minutes.
6Ensure any risks, actions, issues & decisions identified during the interviews are flagged to the Project Manager to add to the RAID log.
7Prioritise documented requirements using the agreed prioritisation criteria.
8Circulate captured interview notes to relevant stakeholders for review and comment.
9Update interview notes and submit draft set to Project Steering for review.
10Update interview notes based on Steering feedback.
11Submit signed off business critical requirements to the Project Manager to add to DMS (document management system).

Stage 5: Vendor evaluation and selection

With your business critical set of requirements defined, you can now evaluate the market and shortlist ecommerce platforms.

I typically advise to shortlist a maximum of 3 platforms for detailed analysis. Based on your scope, budget and requirements, it's usually relatively straightforward to exclude some platforms. For example, if your initial build budget is less than £100k, then you can rule out enterprise platforms like ATG and Hybris.

Focus your efforts on the platforms that are best aligned with your project needs, budget and scope.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Review license costs for leading ecommerce platforms.
2Speak to vendors/system integrators for indicative project build costs.
3Run gap analysis for business critical requirements vs. native platform functionality e.g. if B2B is critical, focus on platforms with proven native B2B capabilities.
4Shortlist to a maximum of 3 viable platforms.
5Create a weighted scorecard for the detailed comparison of shortlist platforms (you can download my template here).
6Define and agree scoring criteria for the weighted scorecard.
7Review all available documentation and professional reviews on each platform.
8Arrange focused product demos with vendors to deep dive into how they satisfy business critical requirements.
9Speak to industry contacts to validate platform assumptions e.g. speak to another company using the platform.
10Rate and score each vendor for each component of the weighted scorecard.
11Flag components where deeper analysis and due diligence is required.
12Carry out due diligence (research, calls, meetings etc.) and update the scorecard with notes.
13Identify your preferred platform based on the weighted scoring*.
14Present preferred platform rationale to Steering Group for approval.
15Approval for preferred platform from Steering Group.

Stage 6: Building your TCO model

Now you have selected your preferred platform based on fit with business needs, it's essential to compare lifetime costs vs. the other shortlisted platforms.

A common mistake is to focus on upfront development and licensing costs only, and not factor in how costs evolve as you grow the business. I recommend creating a 5-year cost model that maps all Capex and Opex costs over the project lifetime and then calculates the annual cost as a % of the total GMV (Gross Merchandise Value).

By doing this you can compare the cost impact and affordability of each platform.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Define all cost streams associated with the project; flag which are Capex and which are Opex.
2Identify which budget pot each cost stream is associated with.
3Define your GMV revenue targets (recommended over 3-5 years).
4Create a TCO cost model template (Excel is ideal).
5Add in a provision for a detailed Discovery phase (to create functional specifications).
6Add in Year 1 upfront costs – project build, licenses, hosting etc.
7Add in licensing and hosting fees for year 2 onwards based on GMV growth targets.
8Add in Support & Maintenance costs for each year.
9Add in 3rd party tool costs^.
10Add in a cost allocation for BAU enhancements (small/medium post launch development) e.g. provision for 10 days’ development per month.
11Run a sensitivity analysis on the cost model for under and over performance e.g. growth is -10%, -20% of GMV targets and +10%, +20%.
12Calculate the % cost of GMV for each platform for each scenario and create a summary table.
13Present TCO cost model to Finance for review and approval.
14Present approved TCO model to Steering Group for review.
15Update TCO model based on feedback and submit approved version.
16Review preferred platform decision in light of TCO cost model – Green Light / Further analysis / Change decision?

Stage 7: Platform due diligence

You have already selected your preferred platform based on its fit-for-purpose against business critical requirements and cost of ownership.

Before you sign any contracts, it's important to do due diligence to iron out any concerns or uncertainties because no platform is ever a 100% perfect fit. There is always compromise, so make sure the business understands and accepts this compromise.

Platform investment isn't to be taken lightly; it pays to be cautious and do additional validation before signing contracts.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Identify platform functional areas that scored lower than alternative platforms.
2Create a demo brief for the vendor/SI to address these concern areas.
3Run detailed demos for all the scenarios to learn how the platform will work in practise to achieve your needs.
4Get a written response from the vendor/SI detailing what is OOTB (out of the box), what requires configuration and what would be bespoke development.
5Get a written estimation from the vendor/SI of the projected added cost to the project of enabling these functional areas and any risks they have identified.
6Request additional technical documentation from the vendor/SI if required.
7Review additional documentation with a qualified technical specialist (internal or consultant).
8Identify and contact other Clients already using the platform.
9Interview other Clients on platform implementation, performance post go-live and quality of support & maintenance service.
10Summarise key findings into a report and present to Steering.
11Follow-up any red flags with the vendor/SI to get assurances.
12Revisit platform decision in light of findings: Green Light / Further analysis / Change decision?

Stage 8: SI Partner selection RFP

Now the platform investment decision has been signed-off, you need to go to market to identify relevant systems integrators who can implement the platform for you.

Running an RFP requires a clear definition of goals and evaluation criteria for the agencies. It pays to pause for a moment and plan your RFP approach carefully before speaking to any external agencies.

Finding the right partner is just as important as selecting the best-fit ecommerce platform.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Establish selection criteria for SI partners.
2Review systems integrator landscape for your chosen platform.
3Request SI recommendations from your chosen vendor based on your project size & complexity.
4Review options and present shortlist recommendation to Steering.
5Steering approves SI partner shortlist.
6Create detailed project brief for SI shortlist partners.
7Distribute brief to SI partners.
8Run phone briefings to answer questions and educate SIs on the project scope and deliverables.
9Set-up SI partner presentation meetings with key stakeholders.
10Create a weighted scorecard to evaluate SIs (reuse vendor scorecard format).
11Run SI presentations and capture notes.
12Request formal project proposal from SIs outlining methodology and costs.
13Update the scorecard with notes and create a baseline score.
14Review scorecard with project team.
15Agree a preferred SI partner.
16Create a business case for the recommendation and present to Steering.
17Steering approve SI partner recommendation.

Stage 9: SI Partner due diligence

As with platform due diligence, before you sign any contracts, it's important to do due diligence to iron out any concerns or uncertainties because no SI (systems integrator) partner is ever a 100% perfect fit. There is always compromise, so make sure the business understands and accepts this compromise.

Investment in a business critical partnership isn't to be taken lightly; it pays to be cautious and do additional validation before signing contracts.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Document outstanding areas of concern and brief into partner for a final response.
2Carry out extended interviews with testimonial clients.
3Canvass market through your networks to speak to other clients (past and present).
4Flag any concerns to the partner for response.
5Provide a high-level final statement of project scope and deliverable to the partner.
6Request formal project proposal including cost model and high-level project plan from partner.
7Request all documentation including SLAs and MSAs.
8Arrange legal review of documentation.
9Carry out negotiation with partner on agreements until both parties are happy to sign.

Stage 10: Risk management

Ecommerce replatforming projects are complex, involving a wide range of stakeholders, business processes and technology systems. Risk is an inherent part of any project of this scale.

By approaching risk in a proactive manner, you can minimise the potential disruption to your project. It's essential that you ensure identified risks are properly defined and a plan put in place to mitigate this risk.

ItemSummaryCompleted?
1Solicit input from all stakeholders on potential project risks; collate information.
2Run a risk workshop with senior stakeholders.
3Prioritise risks based on likely project impact.
4Appoint owners for each risk & task them with creating risk mitigation plans.
5Create a Risk Charter (document summarising risks, owners & mitigation plan).
6Submit Risk Charter to Steering Group for review and approval.
7Add approved risks to the project RAID log.
8Monitor impact of risks and provide updates via agreed project reports.
9Escalate risks to Steering Group when the mitigation plan isn’t working on the risk impact is increased.

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Ecommerce Replatforming Checklist Sample