After more than five years of heavy reliance on one email distribution platform/service, change was overdue. And even though I knew it would be hard work—our list of 30,000 precisely-segmented, long-time loyal subscribers to the blog and e-update is a huge asset for us—I had no idea how hard. I bet you know what I mean.
I partnered with our 1/2-time manager (and yes, we have the same “not enough time” challenges most of you do) to prepare as much as was humanly possible. We:
- Hired a great technical expert to help us make the transition to our new platform (Mail Chimp) as seamless as possible.
- Developed a granular work plan with dates, roles and responsibilities
- Backed up everything
- Timed the transition to fall in a month when I’m not on the road.
But still…ugh, and we’re not done yet.
Although we had discussed everything in what seemed like incredible detail, there are so, so many things that didn’t work or have to be changed. No matter how well you prepare, any transition like this is going to bring a lot of clean-up work with it—there are so many steps and details to all of our work implemented with online tools that there’s no way to remember and communicate every single detail. And even if you could, there would be things that don’t work right and/or you have to learn how to do all over again—every tool is unique.
What I’ve learned (we’re still in the midst of all this, so more to come later) is:
- Schedule a change like this for a period when you are not at your absolute busiest.
- Prepare to be unnerved during the transition.Then you won’t be surprised (alas, it’ll still be an uncomfortable feeling).
- Set a reasonable baseline goal, e.g. your contacts or other data are moved over, and the tool works for you in a the most basic way.
- Expect glitches, particularly those you never would have dreamed of, and make sure you have the right help to help fix them: Your email templates won’t look exactly right or sign-up forms may not generate the right responses via email or on your site. There will be many glitches like this.
- Prioritize the fixes in a few stages. We moved over Sunday and right now we’re tackling Tier One fixes. We are noting additional fixes needed for Tiers Two and Three.
- Be realistic, and give yourself the time it takes so you do it right. Also, don’t burn yourself out doing it. I was up till 11:30 last night testing email sign-up forms, and that definitely has sapped my usual morning energy.
How do you deal with big changes—in key tools, colleagues or otherwise—that threaten to rock your world? Please share your do’s and don’ts here. Thanks!