In one of our articles, we described the differences between two models of ecommerce project development: through outsourcing or building our own in-house team. Today, we would like to devote more space to the latter model in the context of the roles and responsibilities of members of such a team.
Depending on the level of development of the project, its type, budget, and other factors, the size and roles of in-house dev teams may vary. For the purposes of this post, let’s focus on the ecommerce project launched by a retail company with a turnover of 10-20 million Euro a year that wants to enter an online business.
Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
This is the person usually behind the creation of in-house development teams. CTO, as the name suggests, occupies a managerial position in the company. They are responsible for all decisions related to the use of information technology in the company.
In the initial stages of an ecommerce project, the CTO is most often responsible for choosing the right technology (choosing the ecommerce platform), recruiting other specialists to the team, budgeting and setting procedures. Over time, part of their duties related to supervising the technical side of online store development can be taken over by others, such as the VP of Engineering, allowing the CTO to focus on ensuring that the technologies used in the company are innovative and support its continuous growth.
This person works at the edge of both worlds: business and technical. They can translating business requirements into specific goals and a product vision for the in-house development team. Therefore, a very important skill for people in this position is excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
However, looking at the role of the Product Owner from the software development process in the Agile / Scrum methodology, they have specific responsibilities. According to Scrum Guide, they are “responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from work of the Development Team”. The product owner manages the so-called product backlog. An easier way to understand this is to imagine that the online store that developers are working on is the product, and the product backlog is a list of changes that we want to introduce in it.
These days there is a clear division between development roles. Previously, programmers often dealt with both programming the application (back-end) and coding the appearance of the website (front-end). People with both front-end and back-end programming skills are called full-stack developers. Today, due to the greater specialization of these two environments and the scope of knowledge that must be held in a given area, these positions are clearly separated.
As the name suggests, these are programmers who deal with everything underneath the interface of an online store. The back-end of an online store consists of elements such as: a server, application and database. The back-end developer uses server-side software languages (e.g. PHP used in the Shopsys Framework) to allow these elements to communicate with each other.
Tester (QA Engineer)
The person in this position tests the correct operation of the application (online store) and its compliance with the specification. Although modern ecommerce frameworks support automatic tests of key functionalities of the online store, new functionalities and changes need to be tested in many other aspects, e.g. related to the front-end part.
Testing can be divided into manual and automatic tests. No knowledge of programming languages is required to perform manual tests. Automatic testing requires the ability to write scripts that test applications.
No need to hire them all
The roles listed above make up the model of operation of the in-house ecommerce team in a large size company. The employment of so many specialists may be associated with large investments that will not be available to all companies at once. Therefore, sometimes it might be a better idea to build that tech team gradually and in the beginning outsource some roles or processes to an ecommerce agency.
In Shopsys we help retail companies with building in-house ecommerce teams. This means training clients’ future programmers on how to develop projects using Shopsys Framework, but also transferring knowledge about processes and project management (Scrum methodology). If the company does not yet have a tech team, we are also able to offer co-development services (see SCONTO Case Study) and for absolute “beginners” help in hiring an ecommerce manager.