Digital transformation: big bang launch or phased roll-out?

Digital transformation: big bang launch or phased roll-out?

If you are planning a replatform project in the near future, it can be tempting to take the opportunity to overhaul other parts of the business at the same time. After all, it’s a much bigger prize for a much bigger business benefit to optimise your site as much as possible and implement improvements that transform your business.

The problem is that it’s a seriously tough trick to pull off. When things don’t go to plan, running two or more eCommerce projects concurrently can expose your business to serious pains and strains and might even end up derailing your replatforming project.

While we always advise against running more than one eCommerce project at a time, you may not always have a choice in the matter. In this post I look at the pros and cons of running multiple projects and offer some guidance on how best to successfully deliver them.


Common examples of concurrent eCommerce projects

There are multiple types of different eCommerce related projects that can run concurrently. One of the most common examples of this, is updating your ERP system at the same time as replatforming.

Other examples include updating and refreshing data management, POS updates, redesigning your site, rebranding and also proposition updates. These are all just as popular and serve to enhance the efficiency and growth your new site is set to deliver.  


Pros of running multiple eCommerce projects

 The idea of starting from scratch is appealing

There’s something to be said for managing  eCommerce projects together that don’t interrupt business as usual. While redesigning and rebranding are by no means small projects, if they are planned out and executed seamlessly without an impact on the customer, then you may be able to pull them off together.

Ensuring your whole technology stack is up to speed and matching ever-shifting customer demands is one of the greatest challenge faced by businesses who trade online, so the desire to get every part of the puzzle in place as quickly as possible and focus on marketing activities and business as usual is understandable.

Integration is vital and typically a bit of a headache

So it might seem wrongheaded to go to the trouble of, for example, integrating your new eCommerce platform with your existing ERP system, only to switch that up and go through the integration process all over again with a new ERP.

Why not seize the moment and develop two fully-integrated systems simultaneously? If you can pull it off, it will save time, money and resources. But take care if you do attempt it!


Dangers of running multiple eCommerce projects

Additional resource requirements can put pressure on your business

eCommerce projects are liable to be an enormous organisational distraction for most businesses. Realistically, most project managers will find that one of their biggest challenges is the trade-off between the ongoing day-to-day requirements of their business and the demands of their different project. Adding further projects to the equation only makes for more resource juggling.

Even if you’re sufficiently well-resourced to offload the job to a dedicated, or third party, team it would be naïve to imagine that you won’t, at some stage, find yourself drawing on resources that might otherwise be utilised elsewhere. This situation will most likely be further complicated by the introduction of another major project.  

Data integration is all important

Stretching resources and squeezing timelines to accommodate two concurrent projects has been known to compromise the integration process. Cutting corners can lead to serious issues down the line.

A fully integrated multi-channel project shouldn’t be a side-project

An ERP system, for example, can be the backbone of your business and extend into a variety of channels. Getting it right should significantly streamline operations and give your business the breathing space to grow. Unless you’re extremely well resourced it doesn’t make sense to crowbar ERP integration – which will draw on multi-channel support across the business – alongside another resource-heavy project.


Our opinion – create a phased roadmap

If you’ve read this far, our position on running multiple eCommerce projects simultaneously is probably pretty clear – we don’t advocate it. Like the majority of industry experts we spoke to in our magazine ‘Replatforming: The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly’, hard won experience leaves us with little doubt that eCommerce projects, particularly large enterprise-level replatforming projects, mustn’t be taken lightly.

Instead, we recommend introducing new functionality over time – rather than in the high-risk form of a big bang relaunch.



But if you do insist on running multiple eCommerce projects concurrently…

However, we’re also pragmatic enough to recognise that such a course of action might sometimes be unavoidable. In such circumstances our advice is to ensure you don’t do so without applying the same stringent planning processes to both projects. This means that the same attention to detail we urge in our replatforming advice (take a look at our blog if you haven’t already) applies to both projects.

  • Give proper consideration to the effective utilisation of resources.  
  • Ensure all projects are independently project managed.
  • Don’t compromise when it comes to external project managers – a safe, experienced pair of hands is vital
  • Make sure an effective collaboration tool, like Basecamp, is set-up and functioning fluidly to keep everyone on the same page.
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