It’s really important to have a sensible approach to risk management. No project comes without risk, so very important to define these risks and manage them on an ongoing basis. Let’s look at a few common ones.
Number one is a lack of sponsorship. This is where there is no commercial sponsor with senior-level decision making responsibility within the client-side team. This needs to be director level. A person who can make quick decisions and sign off without having to go through endless loops of review and approval.
Really important that the client team brings that to the table, alongside having a senior decision maker and sponsor at the partner you’ll be working with.
The second bit is project management. So not having a dedicated PM can be a massive issue to client teams. These projects are complex and cause a lot of information management, documentation, control of communications between multiple state codes internally and externally and liaison with third parties, vendors, and systems integrators.
You need to have good project management discipline in order to control that, ensure it’s delivered on time, that information is stored and accessible to all people who need it, and that there is a clear process for keeping on track of project progress, actions, decisions, issues and escalations, etc.
Appointing somebody without good project management skills or expecting somebody to just pick it up as part of their day-to-day job when they have other pressures can often lead to inefficiencies and poor decision making within a project.
The next bit is a plan, and this leads nicely on from having the project manager – having a clear plan of what you’re trying to achieve, so what are the goals and objectives, how you’re going to manage the success, who’s part of the project and what do these do? Outline timelines and the milestones that you need to achieve through your re-platform vendor selections, SI selection, contract due diligence, etc.
And making sure that you’re continuously on top of that timeline, as things evolve, whether that timeline’s realistic or it needs to be extended.
The next thing is having contingency and this is both budget and resources. Sometimes, these projects can take longer than expected, and people get surprised of how much detail is needed, so have you made sure that you have made contingency in the resource within your business so people have enough time to dedicate this?
It’s not just expecting somebody to do this alongside their day-to-day job, but provisioning a specific amount of time for them. Have they actually been specifically tasked to do this, or is it an after thought, therefore they’re not taking it seriously because it’s not a core objective.
And then the same thing with budget. Have you provisioned some money so that if you need to external help, whether that is project management or if you’re wanting to do more detailed demo scenarios with vendors or third-party systems integrators where they need to invest time and effort, and there might be a cost to it?
Have you provisioned money for that? Really important that you have a pot of money to cover all the different elements of the project, even before you started building your website.
The next bit is technical blind spot. Do you have somebody internally with ecommerce technical expertise who can evaluate platforms in the context of your systems architecture and your business needs and processes? If not, then work with a third party expert.
It’s all well and good using the technical experts from the vendors and the systems integrators, but having an impartial view can really help you to get the depth of validation that you need that the decisions you’re making are correct.
And then the next bit is requirements and being realistic. In order to meet a timeline for delivery and a budget, you have to be open to compromise, and sometimes that means that you won’t be able to deliver everything you want from day one. So do you have a decent system to prioritize what must be delivered from Day One and enable to push other items into a backlog so you still stick to your core target go live date? Otherwise, you could end up continuously pushing the go live date back by spending too much time obsessing over details that aren’t essential for launch.
Those are some of the common risks and how to mitigate. There are obviously more, but these are some of the common ones I find and really important that whatever you do, you stop and think before you launch your project, what the risks are and how you’re going to go to mitigate them and who’s responsible for taking ownership of them?
Hopefully, you found this useful. If you haven’t seen the other videos in the series, then please do go back, I’m giving you lots of practical insights and tips on how to run an ecommerce re-platform. And if you have any more questions, then please get in contact with me. You’ll find my contact details on the website.
Thanks very much.