The Problem with Magento’s Long Update Cycle

Written by , | Nov 25, 2015

When Magento recently announced version 2.0 of its eCommerce software, a particular comment on Internet Retailer struck me as odd—the new version of Magento has been two years in development.

Two years in development? That’s an eternity in Internet time. Remember Netscape? Netscape introduced us to “Internet Time” in the mid-1990s. It regularly released new versions throughout a year based on user feedback and product iterations. This is the frequency required to keep pace with today’s need for speed, but there’s more.

I won’t speculate why Magento spent two years on its current release. Instead, let’s focus on how eCommerce platforms with slow product development cycles and long internal upgrades kill your ROI and significantly increase risks. Prior to CloudCraze, I spent time in corporate IT. When our on-premise eCommerce system released a major revision and the underlying software infrastructure required a major upgrade, it upended our workflow and required three years of analysis, upgrades and project management, including:

  • Five months assessing and justifying the upgrade inclusive of a partner engagement for a sizing estimate and an internal cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the project should be outsourced
  • Three months for an RFP, partner review and selection
  • 90 days for the definition phase
  • 90-day delay due to an internal emergency IT initiative. As a result, the partner project team that did the definition phase was assigned to another project
  • Two months to restart the project and negotiate final delivery plan with our partner
  • Six months for implementation. Then we discovered the partner dramatically underestimated the project and was underperforming. We fired the partner and took the project in house
  • Fourteen months for our internal team to complete the in-sourced project and go live with an upgraded infrastructure and eCommerce system

To top it off, during this three-year period, our eCommerce vendor released another version of the system, requiring a mid-project review and adjustments in project needs and scope.

Albeit frustrating, this three-year process informed my approach to agile software development and implementation. When your eCommerce system takes two years to release new updates, or if your internal re-platform and upgrade project takes three years to complete from assessment to go live, it’s costing you money and introducing significant risk into your organization.

As an agile software development professional, I focus on building agile teams and development processes to improve efficiency—not simply for the sake of being agile or increasing speed. Salesforce is an example of a company getting agile right. Salesforce releases major updates and new capabilities on its platform three times per year. And at CloudCraze, we follow Salesforce’s model with three major releases per year in addition to point releases whenever our customers need them. Our agile software development approach and integration with the Salesforce ecosystem enables us to release new features and enhancements whenever we need to, not simply based on complex annual or longer development cycles.

With an agile solution you can adapt on the fly without requiring large capital investments and wasted time.

To learn more about the benefits of an agile solution and how integrating your eCommerce platform on your CRM system fosters a customer-centric eCommerce experience, download our white paper, “Customer-First eCommerce.”

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