"Whose job is it anyway" - you definitely want to know the answer when implementing B2B eCommerce.
With B2B Online approaching in early May, we’re talking about some subjects we want to bring to the conversation at the show, where we will be at booth 311. For the next few weeks, Thinkwrap Commerce will be publishing blogs on B2B digital transformation topics, with a different focus each week.
This week, Mike Bogan, VP of Client Services at Thinkwrap, will speak to his experience of the questions B2B organizations should be asking when endeavouring to establish an eCommerce platform.
When starting a digital transformation journey, the amount of variables and steps to consider can be daunting. This is especially true for B2B businesses, who may be approaching an eCommerce platform implementation for their first time, and therefore don’t have a digital framework to begin building upon. What I’ve found in my experience is that many companies are putting too much focus on technology and not enough on the people and processes that are needed to implement and then operate an eCommerce system. Before you select a platform and hire an integrator take some time to consider these important questions.
Do you have a digital business case with clear goals, total cost of ownership and ROI projections?
The reason having clear goals in an eCommerce implementation is important is twofold.
For one, clear goals allow you to design a roadmap and list of requirements that will allow you to spend money effectively, where it will have the most impact. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re adding every bell and whistle (at a high cost) because you think you need to, but realistically, will not use. Conversely, you don’t want to miss an important feature that is needed to meet your business goals. We suggest that companies associate each features with a specific business goal. This helps you confirm you have what you need and don’t add things you don’t need.
For another, having clear and well-defined goals is an essential part of your Change Management communication plan. This ensures a consistent and common understanding of what and why you are making the changes.
Understanding total cost of ownership is imperative when budgeting for such an implementation. What some organizations don’t understand is that a fully functioning, omni-channel, seamless customer experience requires an ongoing investment to attract customers, drive conversions. Unlike the Field of Dreams on the web just because you built does not mean they will come. Many businesses fail to consider the ongoing costs of digital merchandising, SEO/SEM, customer services and order fulfillment. You must include not just the onetime cost of the implementation and SI services, but also the ongoing costs of site operations and the specialized roles required to fully reap the benefits of the initial investment.
Developing a clear ROI projection can help greatly by keeping you on track in evaluating your investment. You’ve significantly invested in a system designed to improve your revenue, and if it isn’t, clearly something is broken.
Do you have a Sponsor, Stakeholders and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can realistically commit the time needed to make the project successful?
When dealing with a large scaled business project, it’s important to have one person who can make a decision, and make it with a foundational knowledge of the business goals, capabilities, and expectations of your organization. If there is no person who can take this Sponsorship role, it’s important to fill such a role in your team. Beyond this necessity, your Sponsor must be supported by a team of Stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success of the project. SMEs who have experience in the eCommerce space can ensure that you are asking the right questions to your SI, and can explain processes and concepts effectively to the other supporting team members.
Are you equipped to provide effective Programme and Project Management?
A project as complex and layered as an eCommerce platform implementation (and omni-channel integration) by nature has many side projects or integrations that need their own unique skill sets or dedicated personnel to be effectively executed.
For this, you need program management. Likely, reporting to the project Sponsor. Due to its complexity, there is a potential for role overload in this position. The expectations of an effective Program Manager would be impeccable attention to detail, in order to ensure all projects are meeting their targets, and an ability to delegate to Project Managers, to ensure each group of workers or stakeholders are effectively managed.
Are you prepared for Organizational Change?
Change Management is a complex topic which we began to delineate in a previous blog. Only a wet baby likes change and Change Management is a discipline that concerns itself specifically with moving employees from their current systems, skills, knowledge, activities, and comfort zones, to a new and less comfortable reality.
Accountability to and good communication with employees are two qualities an effective leader would want to display during any organizational change. In a technological change, employees may also be concerned about career growth, or have anxiety about the changes to their roles or responsibilities.
You should expect resistance and must be prepared to manage Organizational Change to reap the full benefits and ROI of your investment - and not all SIs are prepared to consult on this topic. At Thinkwrap Commerce, we offer end-to-end services, including consulting on Change Management for those clients who would benefit from our experience. This is a factor to consider when choosing your SI.
Do you have a Training and Digital Competency Development program?
As previously mentioned, new technologies can influence employees’ perceptions of their potential career growth and ability to adapt to changing responsibilities. Training and Digital Competency Development can therefore benefit your company from many angles. In Change Management, it can ease employees’ anxiety at being left behind due to change. From an ROI perspective, this also ensures your organization’s investment of time and resources can be effectively utilized by each member of your team - from management to sales, fulfillment, and every member of the B2B organizational structure.
Are you ready and able to staff the new jobs that are needed to operate an eCommerce system?
It’s important you understand the requirements of new roles needed for your new eCommerce system in order to evaluate the aptitude of existing employees to take on new responsibilities or to make effective hires. Realistically, in order to meet the higher demand of business available to you through implementing eCommerce, you will need to staff new roles. If you’re not selecting the right candidates, this is a wasted or counterproductive endeavor. It is important that your system is utilized to its full potential, and the features and upgrades you have invested in are being used in accordance with the best practices you establish with your SI’s help during your implementation project.
If you have these basic questions answered, you are ready for eCommerce, and Thinkwrap would be glad to help you get started. If you need help finding the answers to these questions, we can also provide guidance. Thinkwrap’s clients have achieved higher profits, higher eCommerce reliability, and engagement with the modern consumer. We can also help you meet these goals, through our unique end-to-end offering, best-in-class technology, and constant innovative advancements. Contact us if you’re interested in discussing your B2B eCommerce goals.
Are you planning your B2B Digital Transformation?
Contact us for a free consultation.
By Mike Bogan
Mike is VP, Client Services. He owns responsibility for Customer Satisfaction. Mike has deep skills in project, program and portfolio management, risk management, quality management, business strategy and operations (ITIL), and has a solid track record of leadership roles in IT consulting.