Building an e-commerce empire encompasses a wide scope of work. More than building just your e-commerce platform, you need to consider rich customer experience, quality suppliers, attractive merchandising and so much more. With e-commerce businesses, collaboration between technical and business teams becomes a key driver in paving the way to increasing the bottom line and ultimately building a successful business.

The agile project management approach comes from Agile software development. There are many tenets to this approach, which are especially useful for an e-commerce business. Let’s explore a few, and understand why agile is perfect for e-commerce businesses.

Getting a MVP online, ASAP

One of the tenets of the agile project management approach is to create a working version of a piece of software, as quickly as possible. It will have a fraction of the features and functions compared to the envisioned “finished” product but you’ll get it in front of actual customers sooner. That’s how you’ll get real people to use it, find out likes and dislikes, and how the software behaves in the real world, outside your drawing board.

You probably won’t get everything right the first time anyway, why not make mistakes sooner?

There are so many things that can go wrong while building an e-commerce business, from unclear categories to checkouts that don’t work, from strange search results to product pages that crash.

With an MVP, you’ll identify these crucial issues sooner and resolve them before you spend hours and budget trying to get everything right on the first go.

Making work sustainable & predictable

Agile projects are broken down into “sprints” or “iterations” which are short, time-boxed phases that are typically weekly or bi-weekly. By having a regular cadence of tasks to meet on a weekly basis, sprints help teams effectively break down bigger projects into smaller bite-sized chunks that are immediately actionable.

Teams then plan a single sprint at a time, then adapt future sprints based on the results of the previous one. Overall, as a project or product manager, you can break down the effort of building additional features into planned sprints, which are then adjusted over time. This gives the entire team visibility of the planned work over the course of the next few weeks.

Product and engineering teams aside, there becomes more visibility for business teams to receive engineering hours for their needs as well. This means planning campaigns like Christmas, New Year, Valentines, etc. so that products are merchandised, marketing assets produced and supplier commissions are communicated all ahead of schedule. This way, the engineering team has enough runway to make sure business team needs are met as well.

Respond quickly & frequently

The other important tenet of agile project management lies in providing the right frame of mind, mechanisms and rituals to inspect your work and adapt as needed.

Launching a successful e-commerce business is not a formulaic experience. There are multiple factors that affect the success of your platform. What agile does really well is how responsive the workflow is to changes with respect to planning.

As mentioned before, sprints allows your team to constantly output more business value as each cycle is completed. What it also does is a chance to inspect on a regular basis, everything that is shipped, to find areas that need improvement. This enables you to adapt more quickly (and continuously) as you scale your product.

Eliminate the need for guesswork with user feedback

With your MVP out sooner than later, and a framework to help you prioritize (and re-prioritize) with ease, you are now welcome to changes in the product, as a result of collecting and acting upon user feedback.

Once you launch the beta or early version of your product, you should use a data-driven approach to find out and understand how people use it, how they feel about it and what they would like to see in the future - whether that’s additional features or particular categories.

Apps like FullStory, Google Analytics, Segment and plain ol’ chats with users will give you a holistic picture with both quantitative and qualitative data to understand your audience.

There is no better way to optimize conversions, improve your product and scale in the right direction than understanding the actual people that buy from your website.

How do I get started with an agile eCommerce approach?

Agile and iterative development techniques can be used on any project, and it is a natural fit with eCommerce. Work moves faster in this industry than most, with priorities constantly changing to keep up with competition, trends and leveraging new technologies to create a rich customer experience.

With the need to release features early and often, while keeping the importance of collaboration between business and technical teams in mind, here’s how we recommend you set up your workspace on Tara AI to get the most value out of our platform.

Set up teams, by function and requirement

Setting up teams on Tara AI creates a powerful workspace that encourages collaboration across the entire company. Each team has a separate set of requirements, sprint and progress view. Requirements can be set up and assigned to multiple teams, to make cross-functional collaboration easy.

For example, there’s a Flash Sale coming up. You would create a requirement, assign it to the Marketing team for campaigns, Merchandising team to decide which products to include and ensure inventory and as well as the Front End team to set up dedicated pages. Then you would set up tasks accordingly and assign it to the appropriate teammates, and then assign those to sprints depending on priority.

If set up correctly, you will also be able to filter by requirements and teams on the progress page, allowing team leads to easily keep track of tasks. With that, the entire organization now has visibility on the event progress across all teams involved.

Use automations to your advantage

Leverage our official GitHub app to track code-based progress and engineering performance on a pull request and code commitment level. Product and engineering team leads can understand team status and assign tasks based on actual capacity without checking in with the engineers individually.

With the GitHub automation, you will be able to oversee tasks being done on a daily basis with the ability to see open/merged/blocked PR’s and last check-in’s all in one view. To link Git data to a task, simply add the [TASK-ID] to the branch name, commit message, or PR titles.

Multiple pull requests can also be linked to one task, and track the open or closed status of each one. Once the last pull request is merged, the task will automatically be marked as complete.

With the automation, engineers will save hours of project management time which can be spent on coding and building things that matter.

Set up Slack with Tara AI

With things moving so fast, it’s easy for actionable items to get lost in discussion. Our official Slack app helps software teams ship faster with automated reporting, and personal notifications from Tara AI.

When Tara is synced to your Slack workspace, you will be able to create tasks from chats, as well as directly from Slack using slash commands. Here is the full list of commands you can use on Slack. This is great, especially when you have a #bugs channel where your team drops in bug reports. You can immediately create a task from the chat, and it will automatically be added into your backlog.

You will also get real-time updates on tasks, requirements and automated sprint reports, right in Slack. Smart notifications allow Tara AI to notify you from within the Slack app whenever you’re mentioned in a relevant comment thread, requirement or Task.

Define sprint goals for effective scrum rituals

On Tara AI, you can set up recurring weekly, or bi-weekly sprints depending on your team’s preference. By setting up sprints, you can define what work gets prioritized in the immediate bucket of work. You can then set up future sprints to slot in tasks in order of priority. This creates a culture of velocity team-wide by breaking down work into actionable bits.

You can also define your Sprint Goals individually. By doing so, while screen-sharing on your Monday morning sprint planning session, you can share the goals for that week and get the entire team aligned on it.

For example, if it’s been decided by management and team leads that a specific week or sprint is dedicated to feature improvements, bug fixes or upcoming events like “Valentines Day”, then aligning your team on the goal ensures that related work is prioritized. This avoids haphazard re-prioritization with everyone aware of the sprint’s goal.

You will also be able to surface blocks and identify resources that are underperforming or overwhelmed so balance out the workload within the team.

Agile eCommerce is key to scaling your business

The high-paced and growing eCommerce industry needs your team to always be agile enough to adapt to the ever changing consumer preferences. Scrum teams are agile, sustainable and results-driven. When you implement scrum in your eCommerce development, you can achieve a great user experience by prioritizing requirements and user stories that achieve better conversion rates, while instilling flexibility and transparency in your team.

If you have any questions, feel free to chat with any of our teammates in-app or email [email protected]. Get Tara AI for free here.

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