Hidden behind the advent of unified commerce and the promise of a seamless customer journey lies a level of technological complexity that must be mastered to keep this commitment.
A digital commerce project involves a multitude of applications and technologies that need to communicate and be integrated effectively. In many cases, they need to be reworked by restructuring and repartitioning information to:
- Offer a unified vision of the customer and all their interactions with the brand
- Rationalise product, image and content repositories
- Provide an overview of inventory
- Consolidate data generated by customer interactions, analyse it, and know how to use it to put in place actions such as CRM.
Though micro-service architectures and integration solutions make this switch to an omnichannel approach easier, they increase the number of integration points between systems or components, via APIs or file exchanges. But every interface presents a risk, as both systems need to understand each other. Furthermore, behind the systems are all the departments of an organisation, partners or integrators that need to be mobilised and coordinated to meet a sometimes tight project schedule.
More than ever, intersystem integration must be examined at every stage of a project: from design to implementation, without letting up during the run phase. Here are 5 key stages to really bring your unified commerce projects to life.
1.Favour collaborative formats.
By working as a team during workshops, a project manager encourages exchanges, of both opinions and experience, enabling them to effectively address all the use cases encountered by staff as well as potential problems and the solutions used. This stage avoids much more expensive changes due to problems only being detected during acceptance… or production! Time spent on this kind of analysis is never wasted.
2.Agree on the test schedule during the design phase.
During the design phase, test strategy and related resources, whether human, data or environment, must be allocated, taking account of the following approaches:
- Testing our development environments as early as possible, even before switching to integration or acceptance environments and progressively enriching tests.
- Testing on a “taskforce” basis: inviting all the contributors in the technical, functional, infrastructure or operating segments to joint testing sessions to carry out tests and identify the issues that will inevitably arise.
3.Appoint an intersystem integration manager.
This team member, who is responsible for setting out the integration, mobilisation and scheduling strategy for all the stakeholders, will be tasked with providing a clear vision of the progress of the development process.
4.Estimate the bandwidth required for functional and technical teams – do not underestimate this phase.
5.Keep a positive taskforce and “one team” attitude during the run phase.
This will make it easier to mobilise the different stakeholders to analyse and quickly solve problems or swiftly process upgrade requirements.
By following these key stages, we give ourselves the best chance of managing integration activities in digital contexts, and keeping the promises of a seamless customer journey with a limited time to market.
Project director, SQLI