Technology Assessment Engagement

Quoin recently completed a client engagement that involved an assessment of the ecommerce organization and technology platform for this rapidly growing company. We generally focus on project-oriented development, but this type of consulting project continues to be an important part of our capabilities as a boutique technology firm. Moreover, engagements on process improvement, technology selection, or strategy provide an opportunity to apply our experience with a range of clients and technologies to practical challenges. The results of this recent work are confidential to our client. However, we'd like to share some general observations on our process and results.

Our client had experienced rapid growth in ecommerce revenue in the last few years, but faced a number of operational challenges. The critical problems inlcuded poor performance and abandoned shopping carts. The company processed less than 15% of its orders online; and, relied on customer service personnel to handle the balance of orders via phone, fax, and email. The eccomerce platform, including the proeuct search and shopping cart functions, were built by its IT group.

Our approach in the assessment was focused on staff interviews and collecting existing operational metrics. After a kickoff with stakeholders from ecommerce, marketing, operations, information technology, and customer service, we conducted a series of in person interviews over three days. We thoguht this would be the most effective process for gathering information. We recieved outstanding cooperation from the staff, and were able to quickly identify the key issues in the organization. The client did have basic analtyics, including data on vistis, transactions, and sales. However, we were not able to get any detailed operational metircs. We then focused on internal review, analysis of the information gathered, and research on possible recommendations.

We had committed to an assessment of the 'current state' and three recommendations on how to improve the ecommerce platform. Our team evaluated a number of techniques to capture our assement and recommendations. We eventually chose to focuse on a SWOT Analysis (or 'Stregnths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats') as the best format for a summary of our findings. We presented this analysis in draft and final form to the stakeholders who had participated in the kickoff. We did share a number of key findings related to the need for improved funcational leaderhsip, use of analytics, increased reliance on commercial and open source applications. Our platform recommendats identified three alternatives:

  • Adopt a commerical CMS and ecommerce platform
  • Build on an open source CMS and ecommoerce framework
  • Adopt a 'Software as a Service' for both CMS and ecommerce funcations

 Our assessment and recommendations were well received, and we are now working with the client to plan an implemeantion project. We believe that the critical success factors for this engagement were the collaboration with stakeholders and the thorough research done by Quoin.

 

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