Scaling your business to the next level? Migrating to a new marketing automation platform may be a necessary step in that process. A recent SiriusDecisions study found that every year, nearly 10% of B2B organizations with a marketing automation platform already in place switch to a new one. The reasons range from acquisitions to budgets, but it’s never a decision that should be taken lightly.

In this series, we’ll look at each step of the migration process—and how to set your organization up for success when the time comes to migrate your own platform.

What’s your reason?

Before looking for a new marketing platform, first align with your team on why you need it in the first place. Budget? Performance? Whatever the reason, map out all the factors driving this decision and use them to inform what you need in a replacement. You can do this using a project management tool to track progress while keeping your team on time and on budget.

Define your needs and project timing

After making the business case for why a migration is necessary, work with your cross-functional stakeholders to define your technical requirements for the project. What specific features do you need? How fast do you need the system to work, and at what scale? How much data will you be storing? This is one of the most important steps of the entire migration process—these will become your “wish list” used to identify and filter potential vendors.

When budgeting, outline your targets ahead of time to make sure costs don’t spiral out of control during the migration process. Take into account the annual cost of the platform as well as external help in completing the migration and maintaining it. Get your finance team involved in the procurement process as early as possible to help avoid unnecessary surprises.

Switching marketing automation platforms is often more time-intensive than we realize, requiring a number of system-wide changes. Define timing for these changes—even months in advance— to help your team plan and prepare stress-free.

As part of this, remember to coordinate with your marketing team to ensure that all outbound communications are structured around the migration window. The last thing we want are disruptions in key client communications during the migration itself.

Identify key risk factors

After defining timing, and before moving forward, name key risk factors in the project. Make sure you and your team enter the migration process with eyes wide open, no surprises.

Migrating marketing automation platforms is a complex process and runs a number of risks. For large enterprises, for instance, that could include issues with migrating data from one system to another. Outline these risks and track them in your project management platform to ensure your team knows what could happen and preps potential solutions to these roadblocks.

Ask for outside help if you need it

Even if you’re running a large organization, the reality is that migrating marketing automation platforms internally would take a significant amount of bandwidth from your team. Sidestep this limitation by bringing in outside assistance, so your own marketing team still has breathing room to continue producing content—and generating demand—for your organization.

While the cost of soliciting external help varies depending on which agency you use, the cost savings in internal productivity just might make it worthwhile—particularly if you have a large marketing team and a lot of information to migrate.

To estimate the cost of outside help, work with your marketing team to catalog all the changes required and time to make those changes. This should include everything from the number of assets to be migrated to the third-party integrations to be retained. Although it might seem like this type of requirements-gathering could take place later on in the migration process, it’s actually a helpful exercise to do at the beginning, as it helps determine the cost benefit of using an outside agency to manage the transition.

In sum

Migrating to a new marketing automation platform is an exciting step for any marketing organization, but it can be intimidating as well. Particularly when the transition happens at scale, there are myriad ways that a complex transition like this can go awry. By outlining your organizational needs for the transition, as well as any risk factors, you and your team will be able to stay grounded and enter the process with a clear sense of the end result.

In the next piece of this series, we’ll dive into how to assess features and vendor options to find a marketing automation platform that best fits your organization’s needs. Stay tuned!

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