Preventing Enterprise eCommerce Transformation Failure, Part 4: The Nearly Impossible Task of Process Mapping


From a digital perspective, you have no idea how complex your business actually is.

TL;DR: This goes beyond change management. Mapping out how data flows, what does what and what goes where, layered with who is responsible for what is harder than it sounds. Process-mapping is complicated. Big-scale eCommerce transformations are compromised without it.

About the Enterprise Fail Series: Our senior project management experts share lessons that others have had to learn the hard way about how, when and where enterprise-level digital transformations and software implementations have ground to a halt. The result is high-level guide to avoid being among the 7 out of 10 Enterprise implementations that don’t achieve their objectives or are discarded.

We’ve helped several B2B and D2C clients work through these issues to successfully bridge the digital gap. Here are 6 “Project Paralyzers”, including tricks on how to recognize them and address them.

Failure to map the course

When implementing any reasonably large eCommerce initiative, you can be sure that you will run into business process problems, like the company that had to put it’s “buy online pick-up in store” initiative on hold until it could put into place the policies and procedures required to make sure that “return-to-store” was even possible for products bought online.

When a pro golfer prepares for a tournament, they walk the course with their caddy and make notes about even the most minute details. They are playing to win, and will not accept the possibility of overlooking a detail that could possibly affect their performance. Amazingly, many companies do not seem to be playing to win. They tumble into major IT implementations without knowing exactly which processes could torpedo the initiative.

Very few large companies have up-to-date process maps that clearly show each step in the process, each system and human that is involved. They don’t know what parts of that process cannot easily be changed, or what really ought to be changed.

Corporate business processes grow like weeds, like dandelions, with very deep roots that are interconnected underground where no-one can see them. Ask someone “why we do things this way” and you will be told “because it has always been done that way”. Ask someone “how do new accounts get added” and you are likely to hear “you have to wait until Jerry gets back from vacation, he’s the one that knows how to do it”

How to fix this:

This is a tough one. Process-mapping, when done correctly, can help, including an “as-is/to-be” assessment, the subsequent gap analysis and transition plan. If this sounds intimidating, well, it is. Alternatively, understand that you may have to modify the project timeline and budget. Keep in mind that this applies mostly to enterprise contexts, where silos and fiefdoms rule (you know, power struggles and all). If you’re a smaller retailer or flat organization, this doesn’t apply.