Do you need a new website, updated product design, mobile application, or are you moving towards digitisation of your company? Companies without an IT department often have to look for external partners – agencies, Companies without an IT department often have to look for external partners – agencies, freelancers or dedicated teams in order to take care of a project from the start to the end. A properly selected partner will assist you in achieving the goals of the company quickly, stably and confidently.
Here, at this point, a question arises. How to choose such an IT team?
We wish to share a few tips with you and key questions, answering of which you will choose external partners for your project.
Costs of E-commerce Project Development
- How have you calculated a cost estimate for the project?
- Can you tell us about your pricing policy with a few sentences?
- Why is your price estimate higher (or smaller) than that of most other agencies?
- What amount did you estimate for your similar projects completed previously?
First of all, evaluate your project budget and find out the rates offered by your partners. Most agencies make a mistake of choosing a budget planning strategy when the final rate is preliminary only, and when the needs of a client and work flow increase, the price grows up to infinity. Remember, even the slightest adjustment to your project might cost a significant amount of money. Consequently, it is crucial to estimate how much money you can allocate for its implementation before contacting any agencies.
In case the project goes on longer, discuss the costs. Moreover, promises of tasks completed fast can sometimes be warning signals. Avoid falling for “quick, good, and inexpensive” promises, since in these situations, we can almost ensure that the work will not be completed at high quality, and with time you will detect flaws in the functionality of the project.
When to say “No”?
If your partners cannot explain in logical order why their price is as they indicated, most likely, it seems they do not have a deep knowledge of all stages in the development of an e-commerce website and each step costs. In this situation, we advise looking for another e-commerce website building company with more significant professional experience.
Experience Creating E-commerce Websites
- Can you show us a few examples of previously done projects?
- Do you work or have you worked with companies whose business profile is similar?
- How many projects that are similar to ours have you completed?
1. Select the companies that have worked with business sectors similar to yours
Don’t be dazed by well-known ad agencies just because they work with famous clients, as their projects can differ considerably from yours. It is very important to understand that an equivalent profile or the one that is at least similar to your business profile and already completed projects allow you to evaluate the possible future result and functionality of your project. In many cases, the organisations themselves do not want to invest much time and effort in a completely unknown field of activity. In order to avoid mutual mistakes and failures, you should therefore discuss the experience possessed by your partners in advance.
2. Select the companies that have realised projects with similar functionality
Find out about the specific tasks your partners have accomplished, the functions they have installed, and the challenges they have faced during project implementation. If you wish to have a distinct tool or function tailored to your business, e.g. mobile apps for business or unique software, we urge you to ask, wonder and fully determine if the builders of the future project are able to perform these tasks.
The jobs and projects carried out by your partners are the best descriptors for their professionalism. Request them to show more projects done, and not just those that are presented on their website.
Steps and Time of E-commerce Solution Development
- Do you clearly understand the project contract? Does the contract distinctly describe your project?
- Can you describe the steps of my e-commerce project development process?
- What is the expected deadline for the implementation of my project?
- What will happen if the deadline for the implementation of my project is missed?
Companies with successful experience in project management and e-commerce solution development nearly always divide a project into stages. By asking questions on the progress of the project and its steps to be taken, you will find out the working methods and organisational level of your selected agency. The higher the organisational level of your chosen agency, the higher the likelihood that they will perform your project with top quality. Once you know the deadline for the intended implementation of a project, you will be able to assess if it is not too long in comparison with your needs and business plans.
Please note if an agency uses a template contract. And please remember that a contract must describe the specific nature of your project, the jobs to be carried out on it, its deadlines, price, and its functions. The tasks or elements that have not been considered by a contract are not obliged to be carried out by the agency. Therefore, the best rule in concluding a contract is to include “everything” down to the smallest items to be done, even if it seems a very obvious and usually implied element.
When to say “No”?
If an e-commerce agency avoids giving you clear answers to the questions about deadlines, it is most likely that they do not have enough experience or knowledge. Moreover, if a company refuses to conclude a contract, this might be a serious warning that you should select a partner that is more reliable.
Project Post Production Support and Assistance
- How to charge for post-production work?
- What is your policy regarding routine post production maintenance and required updates?
- Are you applying any guarantees to the projects that you have developed?
Frequently, the cost of website development is not restricted to just the delivery of a final product. A portion of the cost includes the operational costs of a website. Some companies have a lower rate, e.g. for producing product design or programming, whereas “post production” costs represent a larger portion of their price basket.
Before making any payments to your partners, test the functionality of your website at least several times, and make sure that the developers have completed all the tasks of website development that you agreed on.
Employment of the Workers
- How many employees will be involved with my project?
- How many active e-commerce projects do you currently have?
- Do you have enough staff to ensure that any issues that come up will be dealt with in a timely fashion?
During the digital transformation, when most companies move online, those organisations lack the real labour force in IT. Because of a lack of qualified specialists, tight deadlines and many other external reasons, project implementation timelines are delayed, and there may be some failures. When selecting an IT agency, you should consider whether the company is not busy with ongoing projects and has sufficient human resources.
Find out if the companies are also engaged in outsourcing and hiring extra IT staff to carry out specific projects. In some cases, extra hands help develop a product faster or vice versa – with high engagement of additional IT specialists, project timelines can increase.
Additional employees do not work as in-house staff of an agency, and the main issue might become a lack of communication between an organisation and a developer. Before you start working together, ask the company if your project will be done by an agency or freelancers.
Experience in E-commerce Project Management
- Can I speak to the project manager before we begin our cooperation?
- Can I have access to the project outline and specific tasks that are included in it?
For high-quality results, a calm and smooth design process becomes very important. It is essential that the project involves a strong project manager who can be contacted on any project development issues and who ensures that the development process proceeds smoothly. If you sense—to put it rather colloquially—that there is a “mismatch of auras,” you may experience difficulties in both communication and the process of building a project. If there is no open and frank discussion where you cannot ask questions and share your opinion, there is likelihood that your desired final outcome won’t be achieved.
By answering these questions, you will learn another important facet, which is the process organisational level in the agency. Managing the processes and the project itself will be much easier and faster if every step of a project has been planned in advance.
When to say “No”?
Consider looking for an alternate agency if the project outline has only two or three stages. According to the general rule, a thoroughly drafted project consists of several stages, whereas every stage has at least a few steps.
Knowledge and E-commerce Certificates
- Do your employees possess the necessary knowledge to carry out the project?
- What certificates do you hold as an e-commerce website development company?
- What certificates do your employees whoo will be working on a future project hold?
If future partners say that they “have knowledge”, so they will probably have no difficulties to justify this statement. One of the ways of doing that is to take account the certificates that the agency and its separate employees hold. The world of e-commerce development rapidly changes, omnichannel trade gains its popularity, the number of e-commerce solutions increases. Therefore, it is important to find out if your future partners will be able to offer an e-commerce tool suitable for your business.
Additionally, we advise you to pay your attention to the websites and the blogs of your future partners. If “a shoemaker wears shoes”, that is, shows an interest in cutting-edge technologies, scientific advancements and shares them, then this is a positive sign.
- What methods of communication do you use with project clients?
- Can you describe your communication flow?
- How will I be notified about the status of the project during its development? How often?
No doubt, effective communication is one of the crucial aspects of any business relationship. It is normal and recommended to ask whatever questions you may have, as long as you receive the appropriate responses. Nothing is better than being transparent while a project is being developed.
Additionally, if you want to discuss with an agency the ideas you have, do this by proper means and at the appropriate time. We recommend choosing at least 2 channels and ways of communication. One of them should be used for discussing longer tasks and processes, their progress, etc. While a different approach is advised for “rapid” communication.
In order to eliminate information gaps, discuss the pressing issues during a weekly meeting with all project participants, submit ideas and work together to achieve the best result.
You should not only ask, but also answer
Be ready to provide both the questions and the answers. There are two possibilities if an agency does not ask you any questions at all: either it is uninterested in your project, or it has no idea where to begin. In either situation, we advise researching the market and find excellent and trustworthy IT partners with whom you may safely and firmly follow the route of e-commerce.