Dedicated Team for an Ecommerce Agency
- 5 times faster core platform operation
- Eliminating 40% of the technical debt
- The project team doubled in 6 weeks
Organizing internal processes and performing a technical uplift to accelerate core platform operation by 5 times and eliminate 40% of the technical debt.
The customer is a leading European full-cycle digital agency offering digital transformation packages to more than 80 retail and wholesale fashion brands. Using their custom Magento-based platform, the company helps brands streamline ecommerce operations by providing digital consulting, store development and management, and customer care services.
The customer planned to increase the number of projects by 30%. Their in-house production team struggled to keep up with the demand for scaling up as the Magento-based core system had to be customized for each client. The team was too small, besides, product delivery processes lacked transparency and predictability. As a result, technical debt grew.
Since there was no consensus on how to fix those issues in the company, the customer started looking for a technology partner. They chose Iflexion because of our extensive portfolio of ecommerce projects and expertise in setting up and optimizing development processes.
Upon analyzing the customer’s internal development processes, Iflexion's ecommerce development team suggested a way to optimize them. Our team also studied the custom Magento-based platform and planned the necessary technology uplift for it. Working together with the customer’s internal team, Iflexion successfully implemented the suggested improvements.
Apart from that, our team organized a quick and efficient onboarding process to cope with further upscaling and implemented a knowledge management system to ensure seamless knowledge sharing between Iflexion and the customer.
Team Management and Collaboration
The analysis of the customer’s processes showed that they lacked standards for managing the application development lifecycle and code quality. We recommended resolving this by introducing two improvement areas: Kanban process setup and code review.
Earlier on, each customer-side team lead was responsible for a certain pool of projects. When there was a need for developers, team leads grabbed them from the general pool, which resulted in competition for human resources. To solve this issue, we suggested breaking the developer pool up into several teams, each assigned to a specific customer-side team lead. In this scenario, team leads with their own teams can deal with specific requests from end customers. At the same time, each team reserves planned hours for developing the main platform.
To minimize communication barriers across distributed project teams and make the overall software production flow consistent and transparent, we introduced Kanban boards.
We also created a matrix team structure designed to organize interaction between team members and help them cope with a large amount of work. This allowed us to avoid blockers and backlog problems that caused developer downtime in different micro teams. In case of downtime, we quickly onboarded developers to another micro project and helped that team deliver results on time.
Figure 1: Kanban Board: Team Level
Figure 2: Level Correlations: from Team to Program
We have set up, described, and implemented a git-flow process, creating guidelines for both single tasks and epics. The guides include descriptions of team member roles and steps they should take to perform actions, as well as unified naming conventions for the whole team. Guides demonstrate the process of store development and new and existing module development.
The analysis of the core platform revealed several issues that hindered new store development. The core Magento-based platform contained 80 custom modules that helped assemble new ecommerce stores. The system was outdated, contained excessive dependencies, and lacked code consistency.
Our developers also introduced code review practices and implemented SonarQube code quality control and readability tools.
To this day, Iflexion’s team continue gradually reducing the technical debt by eliminating code dependencies, rewriting modules, and standardizing code. All of the above has helped us to get rid of 40% of the technical debt.
Collaboration on the Project
Iflexion’s experts had to organize knowledge sharing to guarantee smooth communication between tech leads on the customer’s side and developers on our side.
Based on the principles of open, streamlined, and consistent communication, we took the following steps to set up knowledge sharing between the teams:
- Holding meetings and lectures for the customer’s developers to present useful software development and management tools that our team uses.
- Holding lectures for our team to share the customer’s knowledge of working with the Magento platform.
Creating an internal Wiki, where both teams can share life hacks and tech resources, ask questions and get detailed answers, as well as find step-by-step instructions
The growing number of end customers made us expand Iflexion’s team in record time, so it was important for us to set up processes for onboarding new team members on the project.
We created a custom project onboarding program for smooth and quick introduction of our new team members to the customer’s team. The program contained two training modules for frontend and backend developers. After a two-week program, newbies were ready to work on the customer’s projects. Within each team, we also appointed a mentor who monitored new members and assisted them during onboarding.
The thought out mentoring program allowed us to almost double our development team in just 6 weeks, from 13 to 25 people.
Having worked on the project for two years already, Iflexion’s team achieved the following results:
- Core platform operation has been accelerated by 5 times
- 40% of the technical debt has been eliminated
- The project team has doubled in 6 weeks and end-to-end employee onboarding now takes 2 weeks
Iflexion reworked the platform to streamline and accelerate continuous store enhancement, development, customization, and maintenance. In 21 months, we developed and released 25 client-facing fashion and retail marketplaces and ecommerce stores.
Iflexion became the customer’s long-term process and technology partner. Today our team continues supporting and refining projects in production, developing and releasing new ecommerce stores, improving and perfecting the current system with the help of the latest technologies. This allows the customer to focus on developing their own brand.
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