The next phase of an engagement is a three to six week product definition workshop. This step, much like a traditional software requirements analysis, is the key to avoiding surprises halfway through the project. The product definition stage begins by defining the scope of the project including identification of the target customers, their needs, and the functions the site must perform. Sample customers are identified and, if possible, interacted with, to understand the design context. This is where cognitive disciplines become an absolutely crucial element of successful web implementations . This helps derive a more complete understanding of your customers, including their environment, habits, goals, and conceptual models. In turn , this helps you define an electronic commerce product that is truly intuitive for your specific customers to use. Use of these cognitive experts continues through the product design and development stages.
In parallel with gathering information about the customer's requirements, the product definition phase examines several technology choices. These choices include everything from development environments to hardware platforms to integration with existing systems. Existing network and security infrastructures are also examined to evaluate if they are e-commerce ready. This typically involves IT executives as they are the ones who ultimately will have responsibility for operating the site. This results in the selection of a technology framework for the project.
Another parallel task in product definition is an analysis of your business environment. The goal of this analysis is to identify any needed process, such as marketing plans, or organizational changes. Business goals are clarified and critical success factors are established. These may range from specific dollar sales to more subjective qualities such as customer loyalty indexes. A cross-functional consensus on the product is established when possible, along with executive buy-off.
Most importantly, the first prototype of the product is developed. Even at this early stage, you should avoid building user -interface -only prototypes. Prototypes , although they may lack some of the final functionality, should incorporate all the key business logic of the product. Both user interfaces and back-end databases are easier to derive once the business logic has been defined than visa-versa.