In this article, I will answer a question that ecommerce directors are increasingly receiving from CFOs, namely: how to reduce Magento maintenance and development costs.

While the topic is a difficult one (as a standard) I will present a simple and concrete answer to this difficult business question.

What will you find in this article?

How to reduce Magento maintenance and development costs?
The problem of development and maintenance costs of online stores
How to reduce Magento maintenance and development costs – summary

How to reduce Magento maintenance and development costs?

There are several ways to reduce Magento maintenance and development costs.

  1. Limit development (brilliant in its simplicity).
  2. Ask the agency to give your project a coordinator who knows Magento well and can configure the panel independently.
  3. Remove unused modules.
  4. Negotiate a lower hourly rate with the software house.
  5. Implement Page Builder.
  6. Pass the Adobe Commerce Business Practitioner certification yourself.
  7. Create a bug-reporting standard.
  8. Create a standard for reporting new functionality.
  9. Automate some types of testing previously done manually.

These are changes that will significantly reduce the cost of maintaining and developing your Magento.

The problem of development and maintenance costs of online stores

Where did the idea for such a post come from? The story is quite simple. I was approached by a friend of mine who is an ecommerce director. He told me that the CFO of his company explicitly suggested to him that it would be nice to cut the costs of maintaining and developing an online store in half. These costs amounted to 448,000 USD/EUR. So it was about 224,000 USD/EUR.

As it turns out, this is a problem that many ecommerce executives are facing today. Business owners or CFOs come to them with an ambitious task – to halve (or some other equally interesting figure) the cost of maintaining and developing Magento. The market situation in some industries is not the easiest hence such a combative task arises.

Let’s take two situations. Let’s assume that we have an ecommerce director who spends 160 hours a month on Software House work. On the other hand, we have an ecommerce director who invests 640 hours per month. They both have an hourly rate of 70 USD/EUR.

The former spends about 126,000 USD/EUR per year, and the latter about 462,000 USD/EUR. Unfortunately, in neither case is it possible to reduce Magento maintenance and development costs without spending fewer hours on development. It’s not possible for us to grow at the same rate while reducing maintenance and development costs by 50%. That was the sad news.

I also have good news. I will present a few ways that together will reduce the number of hours per month by about 40-60. We are not talking about reducing development hours, but about increasing the efficiency of cooperation with the Software house (or ecommerce agency), which should translate into annual savings of about 33,600 – 50,400 USD/EUR. Assuming that the hourly rate is 70 USD/EUR. That is, you can spend annually 33,600 – 50,400 USD/EUR less and develop at the same rate.

Collaborate with a Project Manager who knows the Magento admin panel inside out and embraces its configuration

There are generally 2 types of Project Managers on the market.

The first type does not embrace Magento. He probably has a lot of experience in running IT projects, but it wasn’t necessarily Magento. When you submit any task to be done in Magento, such a person always opens a new ticket for the developer. The developer, instead of solving the ticket through configuration, is obviously coding the change (after all, he is a developer).

Later the change goes for testing by the Tester. What follows is the process of publishing the updated version, which requires additional hours. All in all, tasks that should take an hour take 8 hours, because your project coordinator, instead of doing something himself in the panel, has run the whole process. And that costs money. And it takes time.

The other type of Project Managers handle it very differently. If you have someone savvy in Magento then you will reduce the cost of maintaining and developing Magento. If you tell such a Project Manager that you would like to change something in the way delivery costs are calculated (for example) he will probably be able to do it on his own. Without running the whole process.

Remove unused modules

In every project we’ve taken on, there have been many modules that were no longer used. These are problematic because they often cause errors when updating Magento and generate a lot of extra work. Therefore, the best solution is to perform a one-time cleanup and remove all modules that are not used. In practice, such an action will significantly reduce maintenance costs, especially during Magento updates. Simple and effective.

Negotiate a lower hourly rate

Experience shows that (August 2023), the hourly rates on the market of really good software houses vary more or less from 55 USD/EUR to 85 USD/EUR. If the rate is below 55 USD/EUR, it can be assumed that the team may be dominated by juniors or people with little experience in Magento. If the rate exceeds 85 USD/EUR, it is likely that we overpay.

If you currently have an hourly rate in the market of about 70 USD/EUR in August 2023, this is the standard rate for which you will get a competent team, well-balanced in terms of experience. So my suggestion is this: if your hourly rate is within these ranges or lower and you are satisfied with your Software House, don’t change it. If your current hourly rate is between 75 USD/EUR and 85 USD/EUR, look for someone on the market who is just as good, but will offer a lower rate, i.e. in the about 70 USD/EUR range.

Implementation of Page Builder

Magento recently introduced a tool called Page Builder. If you have older versions, such as 2.3.7 for example, then you don’t have Page Builder. Consequently, all the changes you plan to make to the frontend must be implemented by a Software House (and that costs)..

Many simple changes on the frontend you could implement on your own. Sometimes minor changes on the frontend can take 6 hours, or 8 hours of Software House work (just through the whole process) while you could implement it yourself within 15 minutes with Page Builder.

Gain Adobe Business Practitioner Professional certification

If you are the one responsible for working with a Software House or have a Project Manager on your team who works primarily with Magento, there are several options that can facilitate this collaboration.

For example, you can send your Project Manager to a course that will teach him how to use the Magento admin panel. With the Adobe Commerce Business Practitioner certification, you’ll gain the knowledge to configure certain things in the Magento admin panel by yourself. Having such skills can completely change the nature of cooperation with a Software House.

Create an error reporting standard

If you are working with an agency that does not inform you how you should report errors, it is worth initiating a conversation on the subject and working out an appropriate scheme together.

That is, if an error occurs, for example, there is a specific scheme. First, it is important to know the means of communication by which we report the error. Second, we need to know how to document and describe the error.

This is extremely beneficial because this will ensure that the project team on the Software House side does not have to waste time recreating the error (and that is time consuming)

Create a standard for describing new functionality

For example, if you are working with some Software House, you are developing dynamically and many new functionalities are coming out, it would be great if you agreed with the Software House how should you describe new functionalities.

It could look like this, when you want to have new functionality, you will agree with the Software house that you always prepare so-called “user stories” and your acceptance criteria. Again, thanks to this, you will reduce the time needed for describing the task and its processing on the Software House side

Test Automation

If you have a Software house that does any testing, it’s worth talking to them to see if they use any automation (and I by no means mean automated regression tests.

A tool you can use for this is Garris Backstop JS. This is a tool used to compare two coded frontends. If, for example, you are launching a new version of the site and want to compare it with the old version, this will work perfectly.

The second tool I would like to write about is called Applitools. It is used to compare graphic designs with what has been coded. This is a brilliant time-saving solution. Instead of comparing graphic designs yourself with what has been coded, you use this application.

How to reduce Magento maintenance and development costs – summary

Here are 9 points that can bring significant savings. Of course, it all depends on how many hours you use and which Software house you work with.

But in general, you can expect to save about 40-60 hours per month. This translates roughly into 33,600 – 50,400 USD/EUR per year if the rate is 70 USD/EUR or less.

Stop wasting money. Implement these solutions.

Are you curious about the topic of Magento and find the knowledge contained in this article valuable? If so, be sure to check out the post talking about what if the Software house is not a proactive business partner!

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