How Process Takes Us Forward
| By: Michael Harvey
Everyone working in the digital commerce space—whether a software vendor, an agency like Corra, or a merchant looking to offer a unified customer experience to their shoppers—knows that this industry evolves at breakneck speed. When people hear the word “process,” it may call to mind stodgy bureaucracies and forms needing to be filled out in triplicate. In Corra’s case, nothing could be further from the truth. Our focus on process and quality execution has allowed us to remain nimble and constantly at the leading edge of innovation for over 15 years.
Corra got its start in 2002 right after the dot-com bubble burst, a truly gutsy time to launch a technology startup. That panache and willingness to take risks is deeply embedded into our company DNA. Corra began life as a general purpose Systems Integration firm, working with the usual enterprise technologies of the day including .NET, Java and the like.
When SugarCRM burst onto the scene in 2004 with a revolutionary “commercial open source” business model, Corra recognized the opportunity and quickly became their largest solution partner. In no time at all, every single formerly mature enterprise software category had at least one or two venture-funded commercial open source startups challenging the entrenched players: CRM, ERP, BI, and ecommerce were suddenly exciting again as new companies disrupted once staid markets.
“Corra was the first firm in the Magento ecosystem to set up a true Project Management Office…”
When Magento’s Enterprise Edition launched in 2009, Corra recognized the platform as a significant improvement over other open source offerings in the market and quickly partnered with Magento. We continued to differentiate ourselves from other solution providers via our enterprise-level and, by that time, highly scalable technology chops. We also continued working with other platforms in other verticals and with a variety of technologies. However, we were confronted with an inescapable observation: our ecommerce business was growing far faster than any other line of business. Before too long, we decided to go all in on ecommerce and have never looked back.
As we rose to prominence as one of Magento’s top global partners, we increasingly recognized the importance of disciplined process in developing ecommerce systems. Because they are truly business critical, ecommerce sites are not like other pieces of enterprise software and require a finely honed approach to building and supporting. We road-tested several different delivery models including pure waterfall, agile, and various combinations until we settled on an approach that might be closest to what is known as Rapid Application Development (RAD). That was just a starting point, however, for we immediately began innovating on the process front, developing a unique delivery model that became our industry calling card.
Corra was the first firm in the Magento ecosystem to set up a true Project Management Office (PMO) staffed by professional Project Managers with PMP-certifications. Our Business Analysts became known as the best in the business, and our Director of Business Analysis helped Magento design its own Solution Specialist certification program and exam. And all the while, we continued to iterate on our processes by tightening up timelines, developing evermore sophisticated project plans, and establishing advanced coding and dev-ops best practices. As a result, we developed an unparalleled reputation for quality and built our brand around that attribute.
We had always maintained strong visual and UX design talent, but in 2012, we began to bring those areas of our practice up to the same level as every other aspect of our business. By putting design front-and-center, we evolved our delivery process further, breaking implementations into multiple work streams that could run in parallel: highly agile and iterative front-end design and development, a more linear approach to integrations, and a mixed approach to building custom functionality and back-end development.
Soon, Corra became known for the same level of quality, innovation and prowess in our design work—including Visual, User Experience (UX) and Interaction Design—as in every other aspect of our business. We were amongst the first companies to beat the “Responsive Design” drum, correctly identifying that a mobile-optimized experience is essential to success in a multichannel world. Corra now regularly wins deals on the strength of our creative work, including projects for design work only. Design thinking has fully integrated itself into how we deliver projects.
“When great process meets great execution, you see great results.”
Along with our implementation work, we also developed industry-leading and ecommerce-specific process for supporting and enhancing live ecommerce sites. When a CRM or ERP experiences and outage, it is annoying and can negatively impact operations; when a system lies at the beating heart of a company’s ability to generate revenue, however, that system simply cannot fail. In response to this imperative, Corra launched TotalCare, now recognized as the best ecommerce service and support offering in the industry. Rather than the typical approach of predefining support tiers like Platinum, Gold, and Silver with fixed pricing and services, Corra reverses the approach and works with clients to determine their needs and then delivers an offering geared to their unique requirements.
I know without a doubt that Corra will be designing and integrating digital commerce systems for devices and channels that have not yet been invented, and meeting customer expectations that today are figments of people’s imaginations. Yet I also know without a doubt that Corra’s continued innovation in process and investment in the people to execute those processes will keep us at the forefront of our industry.
Our clients’ successes are proof positive that when great process meets great execution, you see great results.
To learn more about Corra’s innovative client-driven process, email [email protected].
Corra is a digital agency creating transformative commerce experiences for fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. With headquarters in New York, Los Angeles and London, Corra provides strategically led creative and technology solutions to a growing global market.