Blog post

Killer RFP Step #3: Determining digital commerce goals and objectives

December 11, 2017Walter Bloch, PMP PSPO PSM

Editors note: Welcome to part three of Walter Bloch’s incredible series on developing a killer RFP. In this edition, Walter unpacks the process of defining your digital commerce goals and objectives. If you’re just joining in you can read the rest of his ongoing series here.

Now it is time to focus on direction. Having interviewed many people and listened to their thoughts on current online stores, processes, and needs, we now need to switch direction to be forward-looking. The best place to start is to determine what our goals and objectives are.

Website Rebuild Trap: not having guideposts to direct your progress is a sure way to fail. Having worked on numerous rebuild projects at Luminos Labs, we find the most successful projects are those with clear and concise goals and objectives.

Why are digital commerce rebuild goals and objectives Important

I often hear, “we know what we want, let’s start talking about it.” Though that is true, it does not mean that we are all aiming for the same endpoint. People often ask, why do we need to set goals and objectives? Here are my top 3 reasons:

  1. Corporate alignment: This size of these projects is a significant expenditure for the company. We need to make sure that it is driving increased business.  And we need to make sure we are in alignment with the corporate business plan.
  2. Guidelines on what’s in and what’s out: Projects that do not have clear guideposts tend to meander, and you never know when you are complete. By creating goals and objectives, it gives us something to measure all features and needs against, to figure out if they fit in our project.
  3. Shared Understanding: By going through this exercise with your team, you build consensus with all key stakeholders on what the project is and more importantly what it is not.

Shared goals are compelling; they help us all keep on the same path.  Of all the things, you do in your project this is often the most essential to setting up a plan for success.

Brainstorming digital commerce rebuild goals and objectives

Review your list of stakeholders and build a team of key stakeholders to help form and shape the project. I look to have 3-6 people in this group that can represent the following:

  • Understands our products
  • Understands our marketing efforts
  • Understands our clients and their needs
  • Understands the current technology

Bring them together and brainstorm the following question: “What are the high-level things we want to achieve with our rebuild?” Once you have a good list of items, then work with the team to shape and prune the list. Remove items that don’t fit, combine items that can be, re-word items that need clarity, and add things you may have forgotten.

Don’t judge the list too deeply yet. This list is a combination of both goals and objectives. Now we need to define Goals and Objectives for the team and begin to organize them.

What are goals and objectives

Many companies debate what a goal is and what is an objective. To me, Goals are the highest level, and Objectives are mid-level supporting the goals. Here is my definition of goals and objectives:

Goals: Statements of the outcomes that we intend to achieve at some time in the future. They are long range, often generalized and do not have a specific measurement

Objectives: Specific statements of outcomes which when all combined achieve the goals. Objectives should be observable, measurable and achievable.

Separating digital commerce rebuild goals and objectives

With an understanding of what are Goals and What are objectives, begin to work with the team, to separate them into two groups. Keep these things in mind as you do this:

  • Goals are short and easily understood, but not usually readily achievable
  • Goals sound like things an executive would say
  • Objectives can relate to one or more goal
  • Objectives sound like things managers would say
  • There should be objectives to support all the goals (if not create more)

After a few rounds working with the team, you will begin to have a good list of Goals and Objectives. Schedule one or more follow-up meetings to refine them as needed. Finally, ask do we all agree that these are the Goals and Objectives that represent 80% of what we want to achieve? When everyone agrees, then you are ready to begin.

Pro tip: 80% is more comfortable to agree to than 100%. I find that early decisions move along quicker when I give people a little bit of wiggle room. I ask them if them if they agree that this list is 80% accurate, as you move along in the project change to 85%, 90% and so on. Getting them to agree that this is very close is much more comfortable than asking if it is entirely correct.

Common goals and objectives

After working to plan and develop many eCommerce rebuilds, there are some common goals and objectives you see in many projects.

These are some of the common goals that I see:

  • Increase online sales (or profit, AOV or some other metric)
  • Improve efficiency in maintaining the eCommerce platform
  • Provide a favorable customer and employee experience
  • Reduce eCommerce management costs

These are some of the objectives that are often present:

  1. Provide customers information about our products.
  2. Give customers content how and where they want it.
  3. Integrate with all systems to allow management of data in one place.
  4. Provide efficient and useful tools for content managers.
  5. Streamline the online content publishing process.
  6. Seamlessly pass customer orders to the fulfillment platform.
  7. Provide users essential information about their order during the fulfillment and shipping process.
  8. Provide user personalization technology to present valued content to users.
  9. Have a high-availability online store
  10. Improve order conversion rate

After you have an 80% accurate list of goals and objectives, you now have guideposts. These guideposts will help you as you move forward and start to uncover and document website features.

Would you like to know more? Please refer back to the Luminos Labs blog in the coming months for more details on steps 4 – 13 of writing a killer RFP.

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