By this stage in the project, hopefully you’ve been following my other videos in this series, you already know your budget, your scope and your MVP definition and also the business critical requirements that have to be enabled.
This gives you a great information set for evaluating the platforms in the market and shortlisting down to a realistic list to do a deep-dive evaluation of. Typically, I would look to shortlist the best three platforms based on fit for business purposes.
Now this is really, really important because if you decide that you want to do a detailed assessment of every single platform in the market, it’s going to take months and months of analysis to get to that level of due diligence.
It pays to screen out those that are not best fit with you in terms of capability and budget. A good example is, say for example you’ve got a total budget for build of £75,000 to £100,000, and I’ve worked on many project where this is the case. That automatically rules out some enterprise platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Hybris, IBM WebSphere, etc. because it’s just not possible to get those platforms configured, set up and deployed within that budget.
You know, typically those platforms are £300,000+ implementations. Equally, if you have a specific capability that is the primary driver, for example business to business ecommerce, then there are some platforms that are better suited to B2B ecommerce than others.
For example Shopify Plus is a great eCommerce platform and businesses of $100 million plus use it. However, it doesn’t have market leading native B2B capability. You’d have to then plug in third party apps and extend the platform so it becomes more complex to maintain and costly to do.
However, platforms like Magento 2, Shopware and Intershop are recognised as strong leaders in the B2B space and have lots of out the box capabilities such as customer quotes, custom pricing, custom catalogues for different customer types, etc.
So you can quickly narrow down the field to a top three platforms. Then you can create a weighted scoring matrix that you’ll use to do the detailed comparison.
A weighted scoring matrix is really important. It maps out all the different capabilities you want to assess the platforms against. So for example, I like to break it down into platform experience, so how many clients, are they relevant clients to the industry that we’re working in, do they have the experience of scaling from £1 million pound business up to a £50 million pound business, etc., do they have that level of experience in the market?
Do they have local teams? So, for example, some platforms are very strong in Germany, like Intershop and Shopware, do they have a good network of systems integrators in the UK, do they have on-premise team in the local country or would you be working remotely with project development team/managers, etc.?
All of these things are important in terms of service delivery, and then map out the functional capabilities aligned with your business critical requirements and you can weight them.
If you create a total score of 100%, you can weight each area based on the relative importance, so if B2B is critical to you, you weight that as say 5%. However, if another element is not so important, like business reporting, for example you’ve already got a specialist reporting business intelligence suite so all you need is a simple data feed into it, then you can set the BI at 1% because the data feed is basic functionality.
You create the different weightings, and then each area can be given a maximum score using a consistent scoring mechanism (see the free download below for an example). What that means is you now have an objective way to now compare the shortlisted platforms and score them consistently, which is really, really important before you move on to the next stage.
The other thing that you should be doing at this stage is doing demos with the shortlist candidates. If you’re not quite sure about whether they are right for the shortlist, you need to pick some of the business critical requirements and go to those vendors, and ask them to demo the platform specifically against those capabilities, not just the sanitized market demo, which is “our platform can do everything”, but define the three/four questions that you need to be able to answer.
The brief the vendors. “We would like you to show us how the platform would achieve X, Y & Z and what would be out of the box, what would be configuration, and what would bespoke custom development?”. That will give you better confidence that those platforms are aligned with your business critical capabilities.
Hopefully, that’s been useful and it’s given you some insights on how to go about platform shortlisting.
Thanks for listening.