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Implementation Project Manager: The Key to a Successful Enterprise Store Launch

IPM Professional Services Blog

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As a BigCommerce Enterprise Plan customer, you can engage a variety of resources designed to assist with developing and managing your ecommerce site. One of the most valuable resources we offer is access to our Professional Services teams.

We understand how much goes into having a successful online store, which is why we maintain a team of industry experts to support customers as they grow their ecommerce business.

To show customers how to maximize these teams’ benefits, we’ve launched a blog series that breaks down each team’s role, how they can help you, and best practices for working with them.

In Part 1 of our series, we interviewed Farrah Kugman, Implementation Project Manager (IPM) at BigCommerce to gain insights into how her team helps BigCommerce customers see success.

What does an Implementation Project Manager do for customers?

Farrah Kugman: “An Implementation Project Manager is assigned to a customer once they sign their contract. We have a defined number of hours dedicated to assisting with the planning and execution of their site's launch. From the implementation standpoint, my role is pivotal in ensuring the successful deployment of any commerce solutions, providing resources, mitigating risks, and maintaining customer alignment.

“A few of my meetings are cadence calls where we get status updates, run through any blockers, and give updates on support tickets. Some of my calls pertain to the initiation phase, where I'm going through the discovery, obtaining all their business requirements, and ensuring that what they're looking for aligns natively. If it doesn't, then I find what solution will be the best fit based on the complexity of what they're trying to do.”

What is the key to a successful project?

Kugman: “Communication is the number one way to be successful. When there is no response to a question, you don't show up for meetings, or there's a month gap in our communication — things change. Then, we're using more hours to catch me up to speed.

“A very comprehensive discovery is also important for a project to be successful. Sometimes, business requirements aren't known until they start building. I try to get them thinking in ways they may not have thought about. Obtaining all that will give me the right understanding and the information I need to leverage internal stakeholders.”

Do you have any tips or strategies for getting stakeholders aligned?

Kugman: “I am very adamant about being prepared with the right documentation. We’ll first go over documentation from me, the customer, or whoever's having those regular cadence meetings. Then, I get other stakeholders aligned based on this information.

“I also advise maintaining regular communication. Extended gaps between conversations with your Solutions Architect or Technical Account Manager require more time to bring them up to speed. Without consistent updates, they may feel disconnected from the project, leading to a lack of understanding regarding its progress.”

What should customers keep in mind when starting a new project?

Kugman: “Have an understanding of the timeframe it takes to build a site. There are a lot of key factors that play into a timeline for building, so keep that in mind and be mindful of holidays. It may not seem like a timeline risk to you, but internally, they may have an engineer going out for a whole week. 

“Also, come to the discovery meeting with the appropriate information or stakeholders who know that information so we're not going back and forth.

“Additionally, prioritize any new accounts you need to set up. Account sign-up can take time, especially when you have to meet with an account manager. When they’re set up, plan for a month of testing because that will give you that buffer for if a bug comes up or if something isn't flowing correctly.”

What’s your top tip for a successful launch on BigCommerce?

Kugman: “Prepare ahead of time internally so that those teams know what will occur. Also, prepare ahead of time to understand domains and SSL certificates and the propagation for those to be enabled. Know your DNS game plan so you don’t have to scramble. That's going to be what gets your site live and gets customers directed to you.”

What is something customers don’t take advantage of that they should?

Kugman: “Using your IPM for organization. Let me be the person who houses information for you. Let me take over scheduling the calls. Let me be that resource for your project documents. Let me be the one who's doing all of the back-end brain fog dump for you.

“That way, the customer can focus on their internal processes and say what needs to get done, and I can be the one who gives everything on the BigCommerce side based on their needs.”

What have you seen a customer do really well that made them successful?

Kugman: “The most successful customers that I've noticed are only successful because of the lines of communication and the willingness to have an open mind when it comes to technology in general.

“I always fall back on communication because sometimes people just don't respond, and then they come to me when they only have problems. This makes it hard for me to diagnose and understand the issue, and then I can't help. Successful launches and successful projects have been honed around regular weekly updates.”

Why is it important for customers to work with an IPM if they have an agency?

Kugman: “Having us work alongside the agency will only make a customer more successful because they have more resources.

"I just worked on a very successful launch with one of our enterprise sporting apparel merchants. They had an agency and they also had a Solutions Architect and Implementation Project Manager. 

“The agency needed more information about what was released for Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) and Multi-Location Inventory (MLI), so we worked with them to understand the customer’s goals and came to the conclusion that a custom build was the best solution. We created the path for the agency to have that understanding at the very beginning.

"When there were questions about how to handle something with one of our checkout partners, we got the Engineering Team on a call and aligned with the agency. They also had DNS issues. Because the agency was very open with me and kept me in the loop, I was able to stay on top of what was happening.”

What’s your favorite app partner?

Kugman: “I have worked with Braintree a lot lately. I know they're not an app, but they are a tech partner. I have learned so much about Braintree that I have grown to admire a lot of their knowledge.

“I also like what StagingPro is doing and the concept of their product. I've only worked with them for one brand, so I don't have much experience, but I like the idea behind it and what I've seen so far.”

What are some of your favorite BigCommerce brands?

Kugman: “I really like TYLER’S because it is a local company, and Mizuno holds a special place in my heart due to past collaborations. Another brand that I've come to appreciate is Marshall Wolf Automation, which is a current customer of mine. I’m also fond of the Southern Poverty Law Center, because of its impactful work regarding women's rights, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQ rights.”

What are some helpful resources you recommend?

Kugman: “I like the developer documentation. I also always tell customers to join our Facebook group and share their advice. It's an open community for a reason. Bounce ideas off people and read the articles. Let us know if you notice something that's not right because all you're doing is helping make it more robust. At the same time, it shows us that people are reading.”

The final word

Collaborating with your Implementation Project Manager is a great way to achieve your ecommerce vision. Through regular communication, they can effectively manage your BigCommerce initiatives, so you can focus on growing your business.

Check out our other Professional Services teams and join the BigCommerce Community on Facebook to collaborate, share advice, and learn from the success of other customers on our platform.

Annie Laukaitis

Annie is a Content Marketing Writer at BigCommerce, where she uses her writing and research experience to create compelling content that educates ecommerce retailers. Before joining BigCommerce, Annie developed her skills in marketing and communications by working with clients across various industries, ranging from government to staffing and recruiting. When she’s not working, you can find Annie on a yoga mat, with a paintbrush in her hand, or trying out a new local restaurant.