Implementation Methodology: Define Phase


Implementing a new site can feel overwhelming, especially if your business has never sold online before, or, like me, doesn’t have a strong technical background. 

If you have found the right implementation partner to help you along the way, they will have a proven methodology that your site implementation will follow. Briteskies, for instance, breaks down our implementations into 5 phases: Define, Design, Develop, Deploy, and Drive.  

   Our implementation methodology shown as 5 circles cycling forward with momentum moving you through each; define, design, develop, deploy, and drive.

As a newbie techie, I had the invaluable opportunity of sitting in on a new client’s delivery process meeting and today I am going to take you through the first phase of our implementation process; the define phase.  

Kick-Off Meetings 

The Define Phase is as much about team building and navigating interpersonal relationships as it is about our team gaining a technical understanding of a client’s business systems.  

We spend at least three days (on-site, or virtually) with our client’s internal development team (if they have one), their project manager any project sponsors to dive deeply into all of their business systems, integration strategies, functional eCommerce requirements, catalog, current and future marketing strategies including buyer personas, goals for their new site, and the existing project charter. While the requirements, catalog, etc. are more analytics and product-focused, the I found the project charter topic to be really eye-opening.

While a project charter is a standard business practice, this was my first introduction to the concept. The project charter lays out each party's roles and responsibilities and sets the project's governance. It outlines the project scope and benefits, defines known risks and dependencies, lists the primary team and related stakeholders, and defines the communication plan amongst the team (internally) and the stakeholders (externally).   

A lot of the discussion went right over my head, but what I found really interesting through these day-long meetings was how the relationships between our two companies evolved to start forming one strong team held together by the same goal. 

Team Forming and Storming 

If you have ever taken a management course or gone through management training, you likely learned the stages of new team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.  

In our define phase, we generally enter the first two phases of team formation; forming and storming.  

Our combined meetings are, for some client team members, the first time they are meeting us. Often developers and designers are not brought into the discussion until after the deal is closed and work is ready to start on their site. 

I wasn't wurprised to see, as is often the case, that stages were overlapping. The hybrid team we had brought together, who would be building a brand-new Adobe Commerce site, was getting to know and pushing back on one another right before my eyes.  

While I am a conflict adverse person, I understand the importance of this pushback. Everyone wants to be sure that their thoughts are being heard and considered moving forward.

This process allows all players to learn important interpersonal etiquette and helpfs outline our new teammates’ expectations around reply rates and how they react to agenda changes. While this can be an uncomfortable phase it is undoubtedly one of the most important. Even a team made up of the most brilliant people in their field can fail if they don’t take the time to figure out their team dynamic.   

Just the Beginning 

While these meetings can feel long, it is only the beginning. After these project kick-off meetings our team will take everything, we have learned about their business systems, integration points, must-have functionalities, desired custom features, and marketing strategies to create a client vision document.  

The client vision document clearly states the drivers of the project, our methodology, the proposed software, the team, and stakeholders, and overviews the project.  

It will start by stating what will be worked on and the purpose of each, including the specifics around their catalog, integration points, site functionality, and UX/UI. For your catalog, we go into detail about the creation process, images, item pricing, promotions, and cross-sell/up-sell/ related items. We cover all integration points detailing how and why data will transfer between them. And discuss the base template customizations and purpose of your navigation, registration, homepage, product listing page, product detail page, quick order, and check-out experience. We will also cover any other custom needs. Things like chat, promotions, or transactional email triggers. In all, we create a document that discusses every aspect of your site.  

Once we have created a detailed vision document, we will present it to the client for review and red-lining. Once there is a consensus, the real work begins. 

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