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3 Steps to Achieving Co-Development Success for your eCommerce Site

Mary Clare Riordan • November 9, 2015

By Derrick Coleman-Turner, Team Lead

working together cropped

Consider the following situation. A few years ago, your company created a new eCommerce website to drive revenue. The new website kept evolving weekly, or sometimes even daily, and in the process, improvements were added, products catalogued, sales campaigns driven, and marketing displays designed. Eventually, top line revenue became the best it ever has been, and today, your customer base has now grown exponentially.

But at the same time, problems with your site have also multiplied. The platform can no longer keep up. Support costs are too high and new features are slower to roll out than ever before due to systematic complexity.  You know it’s time for a new site, and maybe even a new platform.

At this point, if you select a new eCommerce platform, you may also engage with a consultancy to build your new site. But one large issue looms…. the development team that has driven your organization up the eCommerce mountain doesn’t know the new platform, nor the new team helping build the site.

How can you encourage your team to adapt and be receptive to the new platform? Co-development, or involving your own development team with the implementation throughout its life cycle,  is the answer. The approach below outlines steps to achieving co-development success.

Step 1: Engage

Once a consulting firm has been chosen to implement a new platform, many organizations may end up disengaging their existing teams from the development process.  This is a huge mistake.

Your development team has internal process knowledge and stake in the outcome of the project, and they are also a part of your company’s long term investment (you want to participate in the growth of these team members to make sure they want to continue working at your company).

Your development team has already spent many hours creating the online presence of your brand. Engage with your development team early and often to get them involved. Identify those most passionate, and promote their interests.  Fail to do this, and you will have a new site with a team of disconnected developers.

Step 2: Integrate and Communicate

Ask yourself…how can I best prepare my team to participate in the project?

All developers need to be trained and certified on whatever platform you decide to use.  This process can take up to several weeks to complete, so it’s best to start early with your most engaged developers. Additionally, development sandbox needs to be assigned.  It’s important to note that the co-development sandbox should not conflict with current implementation team assignments. Give your team access to the repository, ticketing system, and related documentation, and enable them to join the consultancy development SCRUM to communicate and track progress. Assign a manager from within your team to work directly with the consultancy to review efforts, plan workloads, and plan transitions.  This manager should be as transparent as possible, communicating realistic goals to all potential co-development team members.

Step 3: Assign Roles

There are several primary duties that you must assign to your team in order to start co-developing.

  1. Migrating legacy data. Developers begin analysis of legacy data, troubleshooting and testing the data import process for products, inventory, price, and taxonomy.
  2. Quality Assurance resolution. Once in QA, developers can take over some of the QA issues. This will familiarize them with the platform without the deadlines and scope associated with larger feature development.
  3. Feature development. This role is primarily for any organizational developers already familiar with the new platform. They will be responsible for building out a non-critical path feature. This is the most engaging option, but carries the most risk.
  4. Client user acceptance testing. Developers will identify bugs or issues that could fly under the radar of your organization’s marketing or sales teams.

In my experience, too many consulting projects have been completed without any thought paid to the existing development team.  By appreciating, involving, and engaging your development team from day one, your IT organization will be a much healthier and happier place, guaranteeing the long term success of your project.

Check out our site to learn more about LYONSCG’s eCommerce Implementation services.

Mary Clare Riordan

About the author

Mary Clare Riordan

Mary Clare Riordan is the Marketing Programs Manager at LYONSCG. When she's not running creative demand generation campaigns, you can find her cheering on Boston sports and Marquette basketball, running along the Chicago lakefront, or spending time with family and friends.

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