Digital Project Budget Risks

When it comes to budgeting your digital projects, there are always risks involved.  As an expert in the eCommerce industry, we have seen numerous complications that draw out projects and/or minimize speed to market.  Our goal, as a trusted advisor, is to guide you through a project using industry best practices and our 17+ years experience.  Here are a few tips on how you can make sure that you are prepared to do a project and not see price overruns:

Design & Content – Risk: High

Mastek’s customer experience and design team facilitate functional wireframes, hi-fidelity design comps, and UI/UX best practice for B2B and B2C commerce deployments, including Oracle Commerce Cloud, Oracle Commerce, Salesforce Commerce, Bespoke/Microservices Commerce, and mobile apps.

The areas that typically increase the timeline, and thus the cost, are:

  • Revisions – Mastek utilizes a “Good, Better, Best” methodology to allow teams to have between 1-3 revisions, multiple breakpoints (mobile – tablet – desktop) and mining for data to make UI/UX decisions.   A customer that is unsure of their branding, customer, or general UI/UX will struggle to meet the level of revisions they are suggested (causing cost overrun with each additional iteration).
  • Approvals – Similar to revisions, teams that struggle with time management will struggle to reach consensus for necessary design related approvals.
  • Timeline – Design should start a couple weeks before a true discovery because we develop to the specific design; starting with mobile first.  We will provide a deep dive into what your selected eCommerce vendor provides out of the box for layouts, and its impact on design.  In short, it’s what you can and can’t change.  Inflated timeline requires us to utilize resources for far longer than we originally intended.  We need to be able to roll resources on and off the project efficiently.

ADA Compliance / WCAG 2.0 AA – Risk: High

Mastek has a practice that supports visual and code compliance, with specific consideration to the  Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the W3C compliance checklist.  Darin Burris and Chris Brown lead the team and partner with the industry’s leading experts to provide the right guidance and remediation plan. This may include the development of UI and code suggested by the ADA and W3C.

Mastek leverages automated tools like the WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool to monitor and identify problem areas while also working with accessibility specialists who practice far more substantive manual testing.  While there isn’t a ton of effort on the customer side, there is a high level of effort in identifying accessibility issues on the development and QA teams, and thus can inflate projects.  The process is very manual when it comes to doing scans and remediating issues.  Typically, we have seen the ADA Compliance level of effort come in at around 200+ hours.  Potential cost also comes in the form of legal risk for inaccessible commerce, whether in-store, online or mobile app. Understanding how accessible your customer experience is will be a big step in identifying potential cost. Check out our blog series on accessibility to better understand the risks and rewards.

Master Data Sets – Risk: High

Mastek requires visibility and access to master data sets.

These include:

  • Product
  • Customer
  • Order & fulfillment data
  • Customer service data & returns
  • Inventory/availability
  • Account administration
  • Marketing data
  • User onsite data & 3rd party data

In the past, customers would say they could identify these areas, but once the projects began, they struggled to provide cleansed, consistent, pertinent data for the commerce experience.  We recommend identifying the master data location for all critical commerce data and not changing it after kickoff.  While your data may not be in the cleanest state possible, a commerce project is not an opportunity to redesign your entire data schema, cleanse or join data, or to change providers/vendors for data management.  Delays in timelines occur, which inflates the timeline and weekly burn rate. With our BI and Data Analytics practice, we can ultimately streamline the process and provide additional insight to drive business efficiencies and gains.

Integrations and Extensions – Risk: Medium

Integrations and customer specific requirements are, by far, the largest bulk of the investment made in eCommerce.  Doing as much upfront work as possible is the best way to mitigate any risk of misinformation, knowledge, or assumptions.  Mastek’s approach to integration risk is filling out our unique Cloud Readiness Assessment and Scope Workbook with as much detail as possible.  Even beyond that, we recommend doing a formal 4-week deep dive discovery.  We take a look at integration strategy, user flows, order flows, tax/shipping/pricing, etc.  The investment in the discovery is decremented out of the implementation project price as to not “double dip”.  Either way, every project begins with a formal, structured discussion as it is the only way to successfully deliver a project.

The areas that typically increase timeline, and thus cost, are:

  • Flat file transfers vs APIs. It is far easier to integrate with APIs.  Flat files such as CSVs, XMLs, etc. take conversion to JSON format.  Also, you have to store and maintain the location for flat files, whereas APIs are a direct connection or through middleware.
  • The total cost of implementation for a project will change if your systems change.  We typically provide an assumptions list of ERP, OMS, CRM, PIM, and other core systems.   If those systems (or requirements) change mid-stream there are delays.

Security Standards – Risk: Low

Depending on your business’ vertical, you will have requirements around security.  Data access, Virtual Private Networks, platform security scans, etc. all impact the speed in which you can move through development.  Higher security standards are not negative, in fact, they can be beneficial, but they do take more time and impact the timeline.

A proper exercise to go through is to ask your IT Networking team what they require from a Systems Integrator to work with them.  They will provide you with information around security certification requirements (e.g. BPRA, ISO, HiTrust, etc.), insurance requirements, security scans (e.g. McAfee), internal Customer VPNs requirements, etc.

While budgeting for a project can be overwhelming, with these tips you are on your way to completing your project with little to no extra costs.