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To Generalist or to Specialist. This is the eCommerce Agency Question. May 9, 2022

Piggybacking off our recent BrandKnow Vlog, A Good Project Manager Is Key to Project Success, there is much debate among this group about just exactly where the most value is added, comprehensive knowledge or a niche skillset? Much like anything, it comes down to the breadth-depth argument (or T-Shaped skills, if you’re feeling recruit-y). Or to borrow from the old expression, is it better to be a Jack of all trades, master of none, or the other way around?

Case in point, specialist versus generalist. Just as the name suggests, a specialist specializes, and a generalist generalizes. The former, having a deep understanding of platforms, capabilities, system architecture, custom development, and user experience, use their industry-specific expertise to address a project’s nuances for prompt, efficient delivery.

On the other hand, the generalist, having a more broad understanding within their industry, leverages their familiarity with project management processes to help foster collaboration among stakeholders and get results.

Which is best, when, and why? We’ll answer the question with a question: What are you looking for?

If you are looking for a custom build or large, elaborate project with specific needs, your best bet is likely going with a specialist. They operate on a micro-level and are going to think through your long-term strategy. The specialist is also knowledgeable at putting together a blueprint and pricing (even without a statement of work (SOW)), and in turn delivering a competitive response to RFPs.

Conversely, if you’re simply looking for a quick website, templates, are new to eCommerce, and just need something to get you up and running with a low-cost budget, a generalist is the one to beat. Existing on the macro level, they are great at seeing the “big picture” and are mindful of expectations and reality, and can prepare a detailed SOW you understand. In fact, it’s not uncommon that you might even work with both. The generalist will lay the foundation, while the specialist will deliver on a specific feature.

So let’s recap.

Specialist. Strengths: senior staff experienced at developing custom solutions for unique client needs and larger, long-term projects; skilled at system architecture phase, consulting, working with larger budgets, in-depth sales and onboarding processes.

Generalist. Strengths: junior to mid-level staff, adept at quick turnarounds and delivering standardized templates, with lower price points or small budgets; efficient, fast-paced, and minimal to no sales needed.

Like product vs. story design, one isn’t better than the other, it’s just a matter of strategy as both generalists and specialists have their strong suits. Under the right circumstances, each are forces to be reckoned with when addressing your eCommerce development needs.

Need some short-term, quick tweaks to your existing site, or do you need a full-on overhaul? Brand Labs has the skills and the people to make either happen smoothly, and stress-free, all while maximizing your budget.

Let us show you. Reach out with your questions today.