Changing any major software platform involves business risk. This is true whether it is an internal-facing platform (like an ERP system, HRMS system, or CRM system) or an external-facing platform (like Ecommerce).
This article is focused on risk management tools and tactics you can use with your ecommerce platform replacement project.
It covers the following topics:
- A Simple Risk Assessment Questionnaire – a short list of questions you can answer to determine the relative risk level associated with changing your ecommerce platform.
- Risk Mitigation Steps – a set of steps you can take to help mitigate the risks associated with your ecommerce platform change.
Target Audience (for This Article)
The target audience for this article is any company considering (or already in progress on) an ecommerce platform replacement (replacing an older / existing platform with a new one). It is especially critical if your current ecommerce platform has any material level of usage or success. This article should be read and understood by (at least) these three critical roles/job functions: the Program Manager, the Project Manager, and the Lead Implementer.
- New CIMcloud customers that are replacing an existing ecommerce platform with CIMcloud
- Classic CIMcloud customers that are going through a Classic-to-Current Migration project
A Simple Risk Assessment Questionnaire
The following is a simple set of questions you can answer to help determine the risk associated with the live roll-out of your replacement ecommerce site. This is not a comprehensive risk assessment, but it does provide a really simple sanity check on your risk.
- Answer the questions below
- Total up your points
- See the recommended actions (below) based on your point total
1) The online transaction (orders + invoice payments + returns, etc) volume of my existing ecommerce site is:
- < 500 / month = 0 points
- 500 to 1,000 / month = 1 point
- Each Additional 1,000 / month = 1 point (round to nearest 1,000)
- Example: 4,800 / month = 5 points
2) The percent of total business running through my existing ecommerce site is:
- < 10% = 0 points
- 10% to 20% = 1 point
- 20% to 40% = 2 points
- 40% to 60% = 3 points
- 60% to 80% = 4 points
- Over 80% = 5 points
3) My new (or existing) platform has the following level of custom modifications:
- No customizations = 0 points
- Light customizations (< 20 hours) = 1 point
- Moderate customizations (20 to 200 hours) = 2 points
- Heavy customizations (200 to 500 hours) = 3 points
- Very Heavy customizations (500+ hours) = 4 points
4) My new CIMcloud platform will have the following qty of add-on bundles:
- 0 add-on bundles = 0 points
- 1+ add-on bundles = 1 point per add-on bundle
5) My existing ecommerce platform gets the following level of traffic from search engines / digital marketing:
- 0% to 5% of traffic = 0 points
- 5% to 10% of traffic = 1 point *
- 10% to 20% of traffic = 2 points *
- 20% to 30% of traffic = 3 points *
- 30% to 50% of traffic = 4 points *
- 50%+ of traffic = 5 points *
* If you have 1 or more points on this question, Risk Mitigation Step #4 below is critical and should not be skipped.
6) The following qty of sales and customer service reps will be routinely using the CRM workspace:
- 2 or less = 0 points
- 3 to 5 = 1 point
- 6 to 10 = 2 points
- 11 to 25 = 3 points
- 25+ = 4 points
Recommendations (Based On Point Total)
Risk Mitigation Steps 1 through 4 (listed below) are suggested for all risk levels.
Rick Mitigation Step #5 (“Used a Gradual / Soft Launch Roll-out) has 3 or more potential roll-out waves. Use your point total to determine how many / which waves you should take with your roll-out strategy.
- 1 to 5 points = moderate risk
- wave 1 of soft launch is a must
- all 3 waves suggested
- 6 to 10 points = high risk
- all 3 waves of soft launch highly recommended
- 11+ points = very high risk
- all 3 waves of soft launch are a must
Risk Mitigation Steps
An ecommerce platform replacement involves business risk, regardless of what you do. With that said, the business risk associated with an ecommerce platform change can be mitigated through the following set of steps.
1) Create & follow a written implementation and roll-out plan
This article provides details on The 3 Steps to To Set Up Your Project.
2) Identify your major business workflows
Your major business workflows are the steps / sequences taken by your customers or workers (i.e. sales reps) to complete an overall job or action. Typical examples include:
- Placing Orders – this includes searching for / finding products, adding products to the cart (and validating pricing, inventory info, etc), going through the cart checkout (using and/or entering address and payment information), confirming other pricing calculations (like taxes, shipping, coupons, promotions, etc), entering payment information, placing and order, verifying the order properly syncs into your ERP system, picking/packaging/shipping the order in your ERP, making sure the payment lands in your bank account.
- Paying Invoices – this includes searching for and finding open invoices, selecting the invoices to pay, entering the amount to pay on each invoice, entering or using payment information, placing the payment, verifying is properly syncs into your ERP system as a cash receipt, making sure the payment lands in your bank account.
- Note: Most ecommerce sites have between 2 and 8 major workflows.
3) Have your workers (i.e. reps) thoroughly test each workflow & variation
- Have people that are on the frontline and know/use the nuances of the workflows that exist in the current ecommerce platform (that you are replacing) use the new ecommerce platform to test and validate the platform.
- This will help you validate the platform’s functionality and all of the settings that make the platform work (i.e. that the settings are, in factor, configured to produce your desired results). It will also help you validate any customizations that you added to the new platform (or overlooked and missed / should have added).
- Have these workers complete test (throw-away) workflows (i.e. place test orders).
- Have these workers complete and validate live (actual) workflows (i.e. place real customer orders, sent in via phone or email, on the ecommerce platform).
- Make sure you address the known variations when testing
- Examples might include new vs. returning customers, standard vs. customer-specific pricing, tax exempt vs. taxable customers, local vs. international customers, etc.
- A good rule of thumb is to run 30 to 100+ live workflows through the system (i.e. 30 to 100+ live orders)
4) Carryover search engine & digital marketing penetration and campaigns
If you have material traffic or business that comes from any type of digital marketing, particularly organic and paid search engine penetration, we recommend you use an in-house or outside expert to help plan, execute, and validate the work. This will likely involve setting up static pages for all content and products (including carefully worded page names / URLs and meta data), setting up 301 redirects, setting up new sitemaps, altering your paid advertisement destination URLs, etc. We also recommend your experts watch the results your are getting, immediately after go live and regularly for the 6 months post go live, to insure you are safeguarding against any negative impact and/or adjusting to & addressing any findings.
- You can use these Search Engine Optimization Checklists to work with your experts to better plan / prepare for this work.
5) Use a gradual (soft launch) roll-out strategy
If you have a material level of risk, we recommend that you use a gradual (soft-launch) live roll-out strategy. This allows you to understand the impact of the change (to the new platform) and confirm that they are within your risk tolerance thresholds or know that you need to make adjustments as you move forward.