June 21st, 2009 | 2 MIN READ

The Importance of Requirements Diligence

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

A common ecommerce mistake is choosing a software provider before working out your requirements thoroughly. This applies to any software - not just ecommerce platforms but CRM software, BI tools, ERP systems etc.

If you choose your delivery method before you have a clear understanding of what your site or system needs to do at launch and 3, 5, 10 years down the road (as best you can predict) you may find yourself boxed in to a solution that can't do what you need it to, or facing a development timeline and cost that you didn't bargain for.

Last August, Bernardine Wu from FitForCommerce presented a webinar The Art and Science of Choosing Ecommerce Technology and shared her tips for requirements gathering and prioritization:

  • Define them at a detailed, feature-by-feature level
  • Create use cases and user personas
  • Include systems, data and processes your eCommerce system will integrate with
  • Create workflow designs, screen mockups to show how your site will operate
  • Include requirements for managing the site
    • How products are loaded and manipulated
    • How pages are changed
    • How promotions are managed
    • How orders are managed, fulfilled
    • How customers are handled
  • Prioritize your requirements
    • Rank them in numerical order
    • Rate them as nice-to-have and must-have
  • Use ‘use cases’ to describe ‘how’ it should work

Be sure to include how the feature will work. For example, if the feature is a wishlist - can the list be emailed? Must you have an account to create a wishlist? Will there be product recommendations and low inventory alert emails sent to the wishlist creator?

And don't forget you may dream up features that your customers don’t even want or need. Survey your customers and discover what they want from your site.

Because this is such an important topic, we're bringing Bernardine back to elaborate on requirements diligence. In Requirements Diligence: The Cornerstone to Ecommerce Project Success you'll learn:

  • How to build a comprehensive requirements set
  • How to incorporate workflow design and best practices into your requirements
  • How to use benchmarking and market data to justify your requirements
  • How to distinguish between a must-have vs. should-have vs. nice-to-have

We hope you'll join us on Wednesday, June 30 at 9am PST / 12pm EST for Requirements Diligence: The Cornerstone to Ecommerce Project Success.

In the meantime you can catch up on The Art and Science of Choosing Ecommerce Technology (last summer's webinar with Bernardine) and its companion blog post. If you're still jonesing for requirements advice, check out my Coles Notes version of the 2008 Shop.org Annual Summit session Selecting the Right Solution Provider for Your Retail Operations: eCommerce Platform Selection Case-Study on the Shop.org Blog.

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