Launched in March 2008, Magento has now become one of the leading open source e-commerce solutions in the market. And keeping in mind the features, modules, scalability, and customization capabilities, Magento does make an ideal choice for building a high-performance e-commerce website.
That’s what Forrester Consulting summarized in their report “The Total Economic Impact of the Magento Enterprise eCommerce Platform“:
“Overall, we found that Magento Enterprise provided the interviewed merchants with a stable, scalable, flexible platform that contributed to their incremental online revenue growth.”
However, even the best or widely used e-commerce solution can’t guarantee your e-commerce success. You need the right Magento development partner who understands your business needs and has the right technical capabilities and experience in Magento development.
To make things a bit easier for you, I’ve listed some key questions you should ask before hiring a Magento e-commerce development company.
1. Is the company experienced in Magento development?
One of the key questions to ask before you hire a Magento development company, is whether they have worked on Magento development projects before. You can easily find this information on their website.
Keep in mind that Magento is a complex software. A reasonable amount of experience will go a long way in ensuring that your project doesn’t get stuck because of the inability of the development team in addressing various technical challenges.
In this particular aspect, you can look for the variety of Magento development projects the company has worked on. If the development company has worked for different industry types, the chances are they’ve experienced multiple development scenarios and technical challenges already. This makes them capable of handling your project effectively.
2. Do they have sufficient Magento development resources?
A good development team will ensure that your project is in right hands. So the next logical question to ask the company is whether they have skilled resources for Magento development, and whether there are enough backup resources to fill in as and when the need arises.
For a development project to run smoothly, it’s very important that the development team doesn’t fall short of developers, designers or testers. Also, ask about the availability of a stand-in project manager.
The role of a project manager is vital to the effective functioning of a project. Therefore, it’s important to know what transition strategy is in place in case of non-availability of the project manager. After all, your entire business depends on the project.
3. Do they have right processes and methodologies in place?
Processes and methodologies are the key factors behind the success and failure of several software development projects.
Right from the identification of key practices required to increase the maturity of software development processes to code quality, good management and engineering practices, and continuous process improvement in place, effective development processes are essential to keep your project on the right track.
So ensure that the company has right processes and methodologies to manage your project.
For example, process improvement models like CMMI add following value to your web or software development project:
- Stabilizes the development lifecycle
- Provides higher predictability for project planning
- Reduces rework
- Reduces software development risk
- Provides a framework for assessment of tools and technologies
- Focuses on design, schedule, coding challenges
- Provides oversight to catch problems and defects when they occur
- Increases probability of on-time delivery of a quality product
4. Are their processes focused on quality?
Quality is of utmost importance because you are building a Magento e-commerce solution that will be used by your customers, and your entire business growth depends upon it.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the company you are planning to hire follows strong QA practices.
Look for quality management standards such as ISO 9001, which is part of ISO 9000 family, a set of internationally recognized standards on quality management.
If the Magento development company has well-recognized quality certification, it will deliver following benefits:
- Increased revenue and market share obtained through flexible and fast responses to market opportunities
- Continuous assessment and improvement
- Integration and alignment of internal processes which will lead to increased productivity and results
- Enhanced business performance and better cost management
- Increased consistency, effectiveness and efficiency of the organization
- Consistency in the delivery of your product or service
- Lower costs and shorter cycle times through effective use of resources
- Improved communication, planning and administration processes
5. Is there an effective communication mechanism?
Effective communication between the stakeholders and the development team is essential for effective project management. Check if there’s an effective communication mechanism in place.
Right from the project kick-off meeting to final delivery, you need to be in constant touch with the development team, project managers and account managers.
Communication is even more important in case of offshore development projects, where it’s impossible to travel all the time to conduct face-to-face meetings. Look for the following things for an effective communication mechanism:
- Audio and video conferencing: The company should have strong audio and video conferencing setup, so that the need to conduct face-to-face meetings can be met if there are geographical constraints.
- Chat tools: There should be a good chat tool in place, like Skype, for instant messaging.
- Application sharing: In any development project, there’s a need for file sharing to work collaboratively on a project. See if there’s a secure and high performance application sharing tool.
- Infrastructure: Make sure that the company has state-of-the-art infrastructure including 24×7 power backup, high-speed internet, and phone connections to avoid communication breakdowns.
- Language: Language barriers come into picture when you are working with an offshore Magento development partner. Though it can be difficult sometimes to understand the accent of people from different counties or states. Make sure that the development team is fluent in English, as it is the globally used language of communication.
6. Are they providing post-development support?
Post-development support is very critical in ensuring that all the issues and bugs are resolved before your e-commerce solution goes live.
Keeping in mind the complexity of Magento platform, it makes perfect sense to have post-development support for your project so that your customers don’t suffer because of any technical or functionality issue once your website is pushed live.
You might require post-development support for following reasons:
- Improving performance of the e-commerce solution
- Adapting and integrating the solution to new hardware or other business applications
- Adding features and functionalities to respond to new user requirements
- Improving efficiency and reliability of the solution
- Integrating third-party extensions and customizations
In addition, you’ll need post-live support to maintain your e-commerce website and help you with corrective maintenance, adaptive maintenance, and perfective maintenance.
So make sure the Magento development company has a strong support mechanism.
7. Do they have relevant customer references?
The next logical thing to consider is if the company can provide you relevant references of customers for which they have built Magento e-commerce solutions.
It’s very likely that the company will have customer success stories, case studies or customer testimonials published on their website. You can easily find all this information on their website or you can directly ask the company to provide references.
It’s important to ensure that the company you are planning to hire has done quality work for their previous clients. And you can get most reliable and unbiased answers to your questions from their customers.
You can ask following questions from their past customers:
- How effective was the communication between the developers and stakeholders?
- Did they deliver the project on time and within the budget? If not, what were the reasons?
- How effectively they managed the project?
- Were they able to derive value from the solution?
- Would they recommend the company to you?
These are just some of the basic questions you should ask, however, you can get into more details, depending upon your requirements.
Building an e-commerce solution using Magento is not an easy task. As compared to other solutions available in market, Magento needs deep technical expertise, and to make even small changes or enhancements, you might need the help of a developer.
In addition, the cut-throat competition in retail and e-commerce has made things even more challenging for online businesses. You can’t afford a low quality website that fails to meet the needs of the users.
Therefore, it’s very important that your Magento development partner is more than capable of delivering the desire results, and managing your project effectively to ensure your success.
Having said that, finding the right Magento development partner is a hard nut to crack. But with due diligence and open mind, you’ll be able to choose the partner that can drive your e-commerce growth.