8 Questions to Ask Before Migrating to a New Commerce Platform, Part 2
Replatforming is a major investment of money and time that requires extensive planning to succeed at meeting goals such as improved customer experience and more efficient operations. There are eight important questions to ask during the planning stage before a replatforming project to help get it right. In part one of this series, we discussed four of these questions related to goals, scope of operational impact, and catalog and ecosystem preparedness. Now it's time to look at the final four key questions about timing, platform and support choice, and your company's overall readiness to put its replatforming project in motion.
5. How realistic is your timeline?
Replatforming any site will take time. These are complex systems whose functionality is the foundation for every digital business. With so many considerations, inputs, outputs and options, it takes a significant amount of time to reliably launch a new commerce platform.
With that said, each project is unique. There's no one-size-fits-all timeline.
But there is one recommendation that will turn out a reliable, realistic timeline: Take your best estimate and add three months to four months to make sure your team has time to learn the new platform before the start of the project and to address unexpected issues that could come up, especially with regard to working with independent software vendors (ISVs) and getting through contracts.
6. Which platform and post launch support is the right fit?
After you answer all the questions previous to this, you'll have all the information from across your business and digital ecosystem to finally make a platform decision. Different platforms will have different strengths and weaknesses depending on the needs of your business and your customers. Make sure to prioritize your requirements to determine which features are most important.
So when the site launches, what then? Application support is probably the most overlooked value driver in digital commerce. Make sure your support partner is not merely taking tickets. While this may keep your site up and running, it isn’t moving your business forward.
Remember that a commerce platform is a means to an end. Both technology and support enable your company’s strategies and solutions to be deployed and be successful.
7. When should you design and launch the new site?
Site design should wait until you select your new platform. Going into replatforming with a design-first approach prior to selecting a platform can add significantly to the timeline and budget for the project. Ideally your new design should take the platform you've selected into consideration as a starting point in order to avoid unnecessary development costs and delays. Otherwise, you may have to choose between spending extra time and money trying to make the design work with a mismatched platform or paying for a new, platform-specific design.
By allocating enough time to evaluate not only your needs but your customers, then define your goals, organize your catalog data, set up third-party relationships, and draft a reasonable timeline, you can replatform in a way that minimizes delays and unplanned expenses.
8. Is your organization ready to take on these changes?
As your organization prepares to replatform and embrace the breadth of omnichannel opportunities that are on the horizon, there are often a handful of important questions to consider. First of all, it's important to understand why the existing platform is failing and not meeting your current business needs. Is the platform unable to scale and support your company's growth? Do you need a platform with more robust technical capabilities? Are you planning to roll out multiple sites and need a new master architecture? Is your site not able to keep pace with your customers? Are you planning to expand internationally?
No matter the reason, your workforce needs to be agile and ready to handle and manage the new platform technology. The organization you have today may not necessarily align with the upcoming changes that tomorrow may bring, and this may be a good time to outline your future organization’s structure.
As your business users are being prepped and trained, it's important that they're fully aware of the goals of the project and the changing business structure. A digital agency or experienced technology partner can help address these common challenges by lifting the burden of resource restraints and any unanticipated organizational shifts.
Brian Wolfe is CIO and vice president of technology services at LYONSCG, a global commerce service provider.
Brian is CIO and VP of Technology Services at LYONSCG. He has over 20 years of experience working with technology and consulting organizations. Brian co-founded two technology firms that were sold to public companies and has held a broad range of roles and responsibilities including President, Vice President, CTO, and CIO. Brian has been a frequent speaker at technology industry events and has been a member of numerous partner advisory boards.
Brian earned a BS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, an MS in Computer Science from DePaul University and a Certificate in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Brian currently serves as a member of the advisory board for DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media. Brian enjoys running, working out in the gym, enjoying time with his family in the city, and rooting for the Chicago Bears.