How to Manage E-Commerce Projects

What is Project management in e-commerce?

 

Project management is all the activities that lead to the achievement of goals within a specified time frame. In the case of SEO projects, this is e.g. improving visibility on Google, achieving high positions for the most important phrases (e.g. top 1-3, or also 1-10), improving the conversion rate, implementing optimization for an online store, and effective linking to the website.

SEO projects can be part of tasks related to other projects. An example is the content marketing project with SEO, building a new store and optimization for SEO, implementing a new YouTube video channel, and search engine optimization (YouTube and Google).

 

What is SMART in Project Management?

A properly constructed design should meet the characteristics of SMART (from the words Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) should be:

  • Specific, unambiguously described which gives no room for interpretational errors.

A specific project answers the questions:

(Who) Who is associated with the goal?

(What) What do I want to achieve?

(Where) Specify the place of implementation.

(When) Specify the time period within which the goal is to be achieved.

(Which) Specify the requirements, restrictions, and potential problems associated with achieving the goal.

(Why) Specify the reasons for achieving the goal and the benefits of achieving it.

  • Measurable, described in such a way that goals can be measured without problems
  • Achievable, one that can be realized, sometimes called ambitious, which is difficult to implement, but achievable and bringing a lot of good effects.
  • Important from the point of view of the organization. Its implementation will be beneficial and bring positive values.
  • Time-bound – defining the time needed for implementation and the subsequent stages of implementation is one of the most important stages of creating a project. Otherwise, the task may go on forever.

 

 

In the extended version called S.M.A.R.T.E.R there are two elements:

  • Exciting, arousing positive emotions that motivate the team to achieve the goal.
  • Recorded purpose allows clear definition and pursuit of specific guidelines. It is important when long-lasting projects cause discouragement and, as a result, change or abandon assumptions. Checking the achievement of the set goal motivates to work and helps to find weak links.

 

Every project has its weaknesses. Most often they are:

Human factors – lack of sufficient competence, overgrowth of self-confidence, lack of time, and any other problem that is directly related to people’s actions.

Financial factors – too little funds or poorly prioritized investing. Sometimes over investment can block a project. On the other hand, too little funds will cause the project to not be functional and as a result, will not be able to assess the results.

Technical factors – lack of infrastructure, software. Companies saving on conducted projects install free or incomplete software or use half measures in the form of limited IT resources. Such action is not bad provided that it does not affect the final results of the project. There are many free and professional types of software on the market. There is no need to use expensive and paid versions, but such an assessment should be carried out by an expert from the industry. An example is testing ab Landing Page (product pages). You can choose paid versions, e.g. VWO or HotJar, or use the free Google or Yandex software. Software is just a tool in the hands of the people who manage it.

 

Essential Roles In Project Management

Each project requires a sponsor and owner. Sometimes it can be one person, but in larger organizations, there are two different functions that are key to the success of the project.

The project sponsor is the most important person in the whole process. They have several functions:

  • To decide on funds for the project and time of implementation.
  • To decide on the company’s resources for the project.
  • To unblock channels blocking efficient project performance and implementation.

 

The sponsor should be a strong person in the company’s structures and have a decisive impact on finances, otherwise, even the best project will lose to other tasks.

Expanded organizations are characterized by the fact that they run many projects at once. SEO projects need a strong sponsor who will allocate resources to the task and support the project in bad moments.

A typical mistake in projects is the lack of a committed sponsor who when introduced at the very end of the project introduces changes that destabilize the team and schedule. The HIPPO effect (the highest-paid person’s opinion from English, i.e. the highest-paid people) found in most companies most often results in a paralysis of the project.

The sponsor does not have to participate in all teamwork and know every detail. It all depends on the joint decision of the project owner and sponsor as well as skills and knowledge. A sponsor who does not know the technical details of SEO can passively participate in work without substantive input. That is why it is important to specify an additional sponsor role.

A sponsor involved in the project has to participate in teamwork and be progress-oriented.

An occasional sponsor, i.e. one that participates in key meetings where work and progress are summarized.

The sponsor is often the originator of the project and the link between the departments in the company.

The project owner is the person running the project from the beginning (kick-off, i.e. the first meeting where the project is initiated). The project owner is an individual that is key to the success of the project and must have a number of social features (binds the team, resolves conflicts, mobilizes to work), leadership (project management requires relying on one’s own), experience, and knowledge (without knowing the topic, the project will not be carried out fully professionally). Difficult, multi-threaded projects that require the coordination of the work of multiple teams is a task for people with character, knowledge and those who can discipline people to work without conflict.

A project owner can sometimes be a sponsor if he is firmly established in the organization. If these two functions are two different people, then each project starts with a meeting. Project owner – Project sponsor where they will discuss the basic assumptions: finance, team and its composition, preliminary work schedule.

The project team comprises everyone who is assigned to work on different activities and deliverables of the project: UX Manager, SEO Specialist, Content Marketing Manager, Copywriter…

 

Kick-off meeting of projects

Be sure to invite the project sponsor to kick off, but also anyone who can contribute something to the project at the team planning stage, work schedule, and goals. Even if the meeting participants do not participate in the implementation of the project, they will share their ideas and allocate resources (e.g. department managers will appoint people to work on tasks). An additional benefit is that you will inform a wider group about the start of the project, which will allow for a more favorable opinion of the project by the group. During the kick-off you will determine and confirm:

  • Who is the sponsor of the project and who is the owner
  • Project managers in individual departments (e.g. UX, IT, content, links, etc.),
  • Funds and resources necessary for the implementation of the project
  • Support for external companies and who will coordinate cooperation
  • Time and work schedule of project groups
  • Problems and adversities that may affect the project: eg a changing situation in the company or in the market environment, uncertain additional funds, lack of support from decision-makers, other major projects, problems with human resources, etc.

 

MoSCoW Method: Prioritization techniques

The key to success in project management is proper prioritization and key tasks that are responsible for success. One of the methods is the MoSCoW method, i.e.

M – MUST: Describes what must be met in the final solution. Describes the requirements that give the project sense and structure. For example, a project for technical optimization of an SEO online store without the support of a development team has no chance of success.

S – SHOULD (should be): Specifies design elements that may or may not be implemented at all costs.

C – COULD (maybe): Part of the project that will be implemented if resources and time allow it.

W – WON’T (will not): Requirements and tasks that are excluded from the project with the consent of everyone. Their implementation has been canceled or deferred for future consideration.

In most projects, the task list is divided into the following scale:

60%  MUST do, 20% SHOULD do, 20% COULD do.

Why is task prioritization so important?

Without specifying the importance and order of implementation, tasks of less difficulty or less importance will be implemented at the very beginning. First of all, not everyone has the competence or experience to assess tasks, people participating in the project don’t always want to be responsible for decisions. Setting priorities clarifies disputable issues and allows you to quickly move on to the next stages of implementation.

Goals and tasks can be assigned a scale of importance, e.g. from 1 to 10. It is important that this is clear to everyone from the very beginning.

The MOSCOW method can be used at any stage of the project, not only for the main assumptions but also for smaller tasks.

 

Planning and work schedule.

Correct and accurate work planning and division will save time and money. The initial stage known as the start-up stage is very important. During this stage, we have the chance to get to know and define not only the components of the project but to assign them priority, place, time of implementation and responsible persons.

The schedule is divided into two stages:

  • Before the start of the project is the stage of resource planning and hypothetical time distribution of implementation. The estimation can be made by the project owner and then verified and corrected during kick-offs or individual meetings.
  • During project implementation, a schedule must be followed by all project participants and supervised by the sponsor and task owner.

 

How to assess the degree of project implementation?

In the assessment, you can set up any method that will allow you to precisely define the level of task performance:

Milestone method – the task/project is divided into parts that should be implemented by teams within a specified time. On the list with highlighted milestones, we indicate whether the stage has been completed as intended or needs improvement. Going to the next stage of the task determines the end of the previous one.

Assessment technique 1-100 – the degree of implementation of the project/task is determined on a scale of 1 to 100. Tasks completed successfully receive 100.

The 50/50 assessment technique – the method of assigning the assessment on the basis of: ongoing = 50, successful = 50. As a result, each task should collect 100 points.

Proportional assessment method – the degree of task implementation depends on the assessment of the person/owner of the project, which determines the weight percentage.

 

Implementation and control, effective project management.

Effective project management requires good planning and many activities in progress that improve work and help motivate the team. The human factor can be a weakness. This is down to the fact that each project has its own stages of decline in team strength and motivation. In the beginning there is always a big commitment, then work on the project burns out some of the energy. In the final stage, motivation increases because we can see the finish line. The role of the project owner is to watch over and maintain the motivation of team members.

  1. Determine the start of each person’s work.

Do not focus solely on achieving the result, but select the exact day and time when the person will start the task.

Procrastination or postponing tasks is a human trait that delays the start of work. This results in finishing the task at the last minute. As a result, most of the work can be done with less diligence.

Designating a start day for your work will allow you to check the pace of work and mobilize you for further actions.

  1. Contact each member of the team directly. Talk instead of sending emails. Write down each arrangement and immediately send an email with a summary of the conversation.
  2. Resolve problems immediately. Look for solutions to problems without postponing them.
  3. Tasks must be completed. Take action. Do not look for problems or scapegoats.

 

Control of projects using the Earned Value Method

In the project task it is important to constantly monitor effects, verify costs and the degree of task implementation. A popular method is EVT – Earned Value Technique.

The EVT technique focuses on two elements that require constant control during the project:

  • Costs.

Expenses and sources of financing should be established at the very beginning of the project, but it is also important to watch over expenses. This requires coordination, e.g. with the company’s finance department (transfers, acceptance of costs or access to a credit card, e.g. in the case of software payments). The EVT method specifies the work schedule, the necessary costs associated with it and then in the determined time intervals, assesses and verifies compliance with the plan.

  • Work Schedule.

Control of timely implementation of specific stages of work requires constant contact with the team responsible for work, external companies, sometimes the board and anyone who has an impact on the time and implementation of the plan.

In the work schedule, it is not only important to complete the individual stages, but also to start the task exactly on time for each individual.

 

The project schedule is the most important document next to the assumptions of the project itself. Thanks to this, the project owner, sponsor, and participants of individual tasks can control the degree of implementation and the time needed to complete the work. The schedule is important in organizations running many projects at once, where there may be a conflict between the use of human and financial resources.

The schedule has the form of a calendar with a list of tasks to be performed and the human and financial resources allocated to this task.