Trellis Video Series Part 3: Own Your Requirements List
We hope you’ve been enjoying (and finding value) in Trellis’ four-part video series on aligning yourself with the best eComm build for your business. As always, reach out direct to us at Trellis with additional questions. Our team of executives, developers and content creators are always willing to provide one-on-one feedback on the best ways to approach your web store project.
In our first two installments of this series, Trellis CEO Isaiah Bollinger dug deep on treating your eComm website as software as well as outlining the criteria for selecting the vendor platform that makes the most sense for your specific business needs.
In Part 3, Trellis Chief Revenue Officer Jared Shaner offers an invaluable piece of guidance. While it’s up to your eComm development partner to help strategize and execute the most efficient use of their hours to build your ideal web store, it’s up to you and your organization to lead them there. You know your business and your project requirements better than anyone. As you start to flesh out these requirements, it’s on your team to keep development in check by way of a locked-in requirements list. Diligence, time and effort needs to be applied to finitely identifying all of the requirements of your build to keep budget in-check and establish a punch list of development goals.
MAKE YOUR PLATFORM WORK FOR YOU
“When it comes to development within the budget, you want to make sure that the platform is doing the work for you”, says Jared. If you choose a platform that looks like the perfect solution on the outside, but then requires hours-upon-hours of development work to customize your specific needs, time and money can be wasted. Correction – time and money WILL be wasted. An overarching goal is to align yourself with a platform that has these capabilities available as templates and custom extensions. If you choose a platform not suited for your needs, you’re signing yourself up for upwards of hundreds of additional development hours to custom code the experience.
Another way to minimize potential hours of overspend is to go beyond conversations with “the faces of the business” when speaking with potential development partners. While it’s imperative to get to know the C-level members of an eCommerce firm, ask to speak to the heads of development. Having transparent conversations with the actual people conducting this build can give you invaluable insight into their capabilities and potential limitations.
“You really are reliant upon your agency and their talent.” says Jared. “It’s so important that during the decision-making process when you’re vetting out agencies to look beyond the faces of the company. It’s really important to get to know who is going to be working on the project because that dictates how many hours are going to go into the project. Quite honestly, for the same assignment it can be two times as many hours for someone that’s not experienced in your space.”
No two agencies are the same. Every agency has their different strong points in different verticals. Alignment with a partner who is versed in your specific industry and has worked on projects that are similar to what you’re looking for, is paramount.
LOCK IN THAT REQUIREMENTS LIST
Before you dive headfirst into your project, it’s absolutely imperative to map out your requirements list and solve for all development needs that come with onboarding your build.
“Before you even start the project, it’s a really good idea to map out and create your own internal business requirements documents as to the features and functionalities that you’re going to need for the site. Both at launch and within the first year or two.” Jared states. Being buttoned up with the requirements that make the most sense for your organization bridges a huge gap between you and your platform vendor. If your development partner knows the detailed ins and outs of what you are trying to accomplish – both long and short term – it sets them up for success to strategize and quote you what they think will be the best budget for your project. Your ability to drill down to a requirements list that leaves no stone unturned, puts you in control of utilizing the perfect platform as well as picking the right partner to build out your web store. To Jared’s point, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel AFTER onboarding a platform or trying to fit round pegs into square holes down the road as you evolve and grow. Having a requirements list that can create symmetry between you and a prospective partner can cut down on countless hours in the development process.
DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL
One thing to look out for during the interview process with potential development partners is their insistence on building custom elements for your project. In reality, this partner should be versed in what platforms on the market contain the best templates and extensions that will allow you to stay efficient with your project budget and cut down on custom builds and hours. If this partner is going to be the conduit to aligning you with the proper platform, they should be savvy in guiding you to making the right platform choice. This gives additional importance to a well-thought-out requirements list that is catered to the individual needs of your build.
Jared advises you to “Bring that (requirements doc) to your agency partner and see whether there’s things on the market that make it so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If your developer is approaching you with a completely custom project and saying that every single feature and functionality is going to require tens of hours to custom develop instead of coming to you with things that are already built and that you can use as a good starting place, it’s probably a good red flag that you should get some outside opinions and look elsewhere because otherwise, there’s a very good chance that the project you thought would be $50,000 – if you’re working with yes men – can quickly add up to hours and cost well into six figures.”
To Jared’s point, there are a variety of solutions out there that include these built-in custom components and templated features that will keep you from “reinventing the wheel”. A fantastic agency partner knows this, and a good one is going to help you keep costs minimal vs. gouging you with unnecessary hours. Get that requirements list in a state of perfection, and task your agency with adhering to a list. A good requirements list and complete partner buy-in to that list should keep your budget in-check and have you heading in the right direction for platform selection and the overall project road map.
Trellis is proud to have over a hundred custom builds on our resume in varying industries and for differing customer requirements. Whether it’s using Magento for custom extension development and integrations or utilizing Shopify Plus for a more fully-hosted, cloud-based solution, we have you covered with some of the industry’s top developers to craft your unique eCommerce build. Even if you don’t use Trellis as your agency, we’ve always found value in helping and pointing eCommerce professionals in the right project direction, so drop us a line any time. We’d love to hear from you.
Stay tuned for our final installment in this series that touches upon how to staff your sales force to meet the demand (and potential venture backing) of your growing eComm business.