Don't Panic When Your eCommerce Project Hits Pause

Matt Trimmer

project pause.pngWhen you started your eCommerce project, you and your eCommerce consulting team laid out a timeline to follow. While everyone did their best to stick to the schedule, things happen, and now your team needs to pause the project.

Pausing a project is not unheard of. It’s a setback, to be sure, but it’s not the end of the world. No project goes completely smoothly, but there are some things that can be done to make it easier to pick up where you left off when the time is right.

What the Development Team Can Do

The timing of a project’s hiatus makes a big difference for the development team. If a client decides to take a break between Development and Go-Live, the only thing that really changes for the development team is the overall timeline of the project. If the break occurs between the Design and Development phases, however, there is much more the development team can do to keep the project on track.

There is a lot that happens between the Design and Development phases, as notes and designs become a functioning site. When a pause happens between those phases, it makes keeping track of that pertinent information much more challenging. To keep things in line, we suggest that development teams document everything as soon as the client decides to take a break.

While things like functional designs are sufficiently detailed to move a project from Design to Development for an uninterrupted project, a pause complicates things. Detailed internal notes and a list of pause points will help make the pickup more seamless. By documenting where things have been left off and what steps need to come next, a project pause is no big deal.

Of course, there are extreme cases that can be classified as a reboot of a project more than picking up after a pause. We have had implementations, for example, where the software being used was updated during the pause period. Because of this, the UI of the sites would be different, so the design and development of the sites would be different from the original plans.

We have had other situations where the hiatus lasts for nearly a year or more. In cases like these, we recommend a face-to-face meeting when restarting the project, almost like another kickoff meeting. This gets everyone involved on the same page and gives everyone a chance to reevaluate the tasks at hand.

What Your Team Can Do

Like the consulting team, your team’s potential tasks will differ based on when the pause takes place.

If a pause occurs between the Define/Design and Development phases, then your team should use that time to prepare site content and product information. Things like About Us and FAQ pages, home page content, and product information can all be prepared without a live or dev site. Just keep in mind when gathering product data to organize the information in a way that is compatible with your eCommerce site’s load process.

If, however, the pause takes place between Development and Go-Live, then your team needs to test, asses, and review the site. At this point, changes made to the site will typically be minimal, so using this time to perform regression, user acceptance, and performance testing will help your team hit the ground running when the project picks back up.

Regardless of when the pause falls in your project’s timeline, it will be important to recalibrate your expectations. A pause will certainly change the go-live date, as that date was based on the original, uninterrupted timeline. Things change after a hiatus, so make sure your team and your expectations adjust accordingly.  

Prevent a Pause from the Start

Ideally, your project won’t need to pause at all. To help keep your project on track and on time, your team needs to assign a dedicated project manager.

In our experience, more often than not, a project pauses because the client doesn’t have the necessary time or resources to commit to the project. Whether your team is simultaneously taking on a warehousing project, another software upgrade, or even the trade show circuit, any additional goal can interfere with a project’s progress.

Even day-to-day activities can derail a project if there isn’t a project manager. Consider this: if someone on your team spends half of their time heading up your eCommerce implementation, and the other half of their time doing their existing work, then that means that the project is standing still half of the time.

An eCommerce project isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of undertaking; your team needs to be available throughout the process. By assigning a full time project manager, you ensure that your project gets the attention it needs from the very beginning, thus decreasing your chances of pausing.

Do you have an eCommerce project that could use an expert opinion? Contact our team

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