Solving Problems: How Your eCommerce Project is Like a Cat Cake

As the Office Manager at Brilliance Business Solutions, I see our team work on different types of projects and know that while many are unique, there are generally only two types of customers. Some clients come to us with a problem while others come with a solution.

As the Office Manager at Brilliance Business Solutions, I see our team work on different types of projects and know that while many are unique, there are generally only two types of customers.

Some clients come to us with a problem while others come with a solution. Here’s what I mean by that…

Starting With a Problem

Companies who start with a problem have identified an issue that needs to be resolved. These companies have probably also identified they do not have the skills needed to solve the problem and/or they do not have the time to learn the skills.

Some companies might have an eCommerce site but now realize they would like it to have additional functionality.

For these situations, it is about what they want as an end result. 

Starting With a Solution

Other times, companies come to us with a solution already in mind. Not only do they know exactly what they want, but also they think they know how to accomplish it. Sometimes, what they think they want is not based in the full knowledge of what is required. Or there might be other ways to get there. It can cause stress on all involved if clients are not willing or able to compromise or allow the developers to use their expertise.

For example, there was a customer who came to Brilliance saying they wanted an eCommerce site built using specific software tools. But as the team looked at it, the software they wanted wasn’t going to hold up for the amount of data and the size of their project. It wasn’t a good fit -- not the right solution. Fortunately, they were open-minded and were okay stepping back to look at the overall requirements for the project and come up with the best solution for it.  

How an eCommerce Project Is Like A Cat Cake

It’s important to stay open during the problem-solving process because there is always more than one solution to a problem.

I have a baking business on the side, and as a baker, I get all types of requests for desserts. Recently, I had a woman reach out to me to bake a cake for her daughter’s 10th birthday. The original request seemed simple enough, “Are you able to make a cake with a cat face?” Since the answer was yes, I proceeded with my usual process of learning more about the event and the client’s requirements: number of servings, the flavor of the cake, timeframe, budget, etc.

 A couple of days after we made some progress on the various details, I received a photo of a hand-drawn picture from the daughter, of her ideal cake. (Being an artsy kid, I could picture myself sitting with all my art supplies, designing my own birthday cake, feeling very pleased.) On it, she specified the cake flavors, the number of layers, the frosting colors, and her kitten’s face. I admit I was impressed and in that moment decided the only way to move forward was to do my best to recreate her design as precisely as possible.

The client had a very clear picture of what she wanted as an end result. However, she did not tell me which recipes to make, or what decorating techniques to use. Through this project, I learned there is a kind of freedom in receiving an achievable design with general requirements, knowing I can use methods and recipes with which I have experience.

As both a baker and observer of website development projects, here are some of the key parts of defining requirements without hindering the problem-solving process of the professionals you have hired.

Vision
All projects start with a vision. You either want to make something from nothing or you want to take what you have and make it different. Knowing this, even generally, is helpful to your partners.

Maybe you are having a themed birthday party or you have a company with a strong and distinct brand. Those and other details are useful and can be incorporated into the final product. 

The vision is about the desired result, but not the specifics of how to accomplish it.

Budget
All projects need a budget. If it is flexible, that is great. If it is not flexible, the team needs to know so they can plan accordingly and decide what is possible.
Having a budget will help keep all parties accountable for their roles in the project.

Must Have and Absolutely Nots
Through a guided process and the right questions, it is helpful to determine up front what must be included and what can or should be left out of a project.

In the initial conversations of the cat cake, I suggested shredded coconut for the cat “fur” but was told no. Totally fine. I get it. Not everyone is a fan of coconut. However, just imagine if I had thought I was being clever and just did it without mentioning it. Eesh. Either I would have an unhappy customer or I would have needed to remake the cake, wasting time and losing money.

Timeframe
Projects take time, and time costs money. Therefore, it is important to know how much time you want or are able to spend on the project or if there are any hard deadlines. Once a timeline is established, it is incredibly important for everyone to stick to it, or risk slowing down the project or worse, overrunning the time budget.

At Brilliance, we are highly adept at the problem-solving process when it comes to eCommerce sites.

We often recommend a Scoping Project before we take on a client. This project goes through the problem-solving process, giving everyone an idea of what it will take to have a successful project that meets all the requirements in addition to finding anything that might be a surprise later on.

Are you ready to get some help solving your eCommerce problems? Schedule a free consultation with us today.

Angela Steinkamp

Office & Customer Service Manager

About

Angela Steinkamp

Angela serves as the Office & Customer Service Manager at Brilliance Business Solution and also coordinates the Brilliance service days and team building activities.

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