If you have a system that’s on its last legs, it’s crucial to consider upgrading your tech for security purposes, as well as to improve efficiency within your organization.
Here, we’ll cover 5 things you as a publisher must do when your legacy system is sunsetting, and offer a few tips to help you make the process as smooth as possible.
Ask your team what they need in a new solution
One quarter of American workers say that their companies’ technology hinders their productivity. To avoid this becoming the reality within your media organization, your first goal should be to put your staff at ease and overcome their objections about changing your technology or your vendor. Your team needs to know they’ll still be able to get their work done with a new system (and ideally, that the process will be even better).
Sit down at a computer with a few of your employees and your legacy system running, and conduct a short interview to gather insights on their experiences with the tech. Use this opportunity to show your team that you’re listening, and give them a chance to share their concerns. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask:
- How often do you use our existing system?
- What do you enjoy most about using the system?
- What do you dislike about using the system?
- How do you complete [insert task here]? Please demonstrate it for me.
- What functionality is missing from this system?
You should seek input and buy-in from every department that depends on your legacy system before you look for alternatives—whether a department uses the system in a hands-on way or simply receives reports from it. This part of the sunsetting process will help ensure that when you select a new solution, it addresses your business challenges, works for your end users and doesn’t wind up collecting dust on a virtual shelf.
Decide whether you will integrate, build, or buy a system
You now have a clear understanding of what your stakeholders need in a new solution. This likely includes the ability to manage advertisers’ orders and billing, report on campaign performance, and drive future sales through automated tactics. As a publisher, your best bet is to land on a system that can carry out all of these tasks.
You may choose to integrate new technology with your current solution; however, when your legacy system is sunsetting, this option can really only be a temporary stop-gap. You may opt to build a new system in-house to achieve precise customization, but keep in mind that this effort can be a serious drain on your IT resources. Or, you may decide to purchase a solution from a vendor and configure it to meet your team’s needs.
Every media organization is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the integrate, build, or buy question. You may choose to incorporate elements of all three options into your approach. Remember to focus on the long-term future of your business when you make this decision instead of solely on what you need today.
Choose your new technology
If you decide to buy instead of build, it’s important to evaluate several vendors thoughtfully. Find out how much each vendor’s system has helped their customers increase pipeline and revenue on both the advertising and subscription sides of their businesses. Keep your staff top of mind, too. Ask each vendor how much time their solution has saved their customers’ IT, marketing, sales, and finance teams.
You must also assess the longevity and scalability of each new system you’re considering. You’re likely already feeling the pain of the sunsetting process by this point, so you don’t want to have to go through it all over again two years down the road. Think about how your business will look in the future—for example, will you be more dependent on subscription revenue than you are today? If the answer is yes, then your new solution will need to support your evolving subscription strategy.
Sign a contract
Congratulations! You’ve selected a new media sales system. Before you put pen to paper, carefully review the contract’s specifications, such as how the technology is supposed to function and how the vendor evaluates its performance. Find out what type of warranty comes with the solution, and what kind of customer support the vendor offers. Don’t enter into a relationship that ends the moment you’ve paid for the software.
Finally, don’t forget to have a conversation about data ownership with your vendor. As a publisher, you need to clearly understand whether you own the audience data within your system, and what your contract says about data storage, access, and sharing.
Make a data backup and migration plan
This step of the sunsetting process is critical to ensure a seamless transition of clean data from your old to your new system.
“Even though you will back up all your data before you migrate it, it would be wise to keep data on the legacy system in a read-only mode,” suggests this article by SecurityIntelligence. “The decision to keep the read-only option in the legacy system depends on cost (licenses and maintenance requirements), compliance issues, and the need for that data to be updated in the future.”
In addition, before you migrate your data, you should audit your existing database so the data you bring over to your new solution is as clean as possible. Audience data is a precious currency for publishers, and the more accurate it is, the more valuable it is to advertisers. You don’t want to bring an old mess into a new system.
You’re now ready to begin the migration. You may choose to migrate your data in phases to minimize disruption to your staff and so they can familiarize themselves with one aspect of your new tech at a time. This approach also gives your IT team an opportunity to verify that your new solution is secure.
Download our RFP template
If you’re struggling to find a new solution to replace your sunsetting legacy system, try writing a request for proposal. This will ensure you get the buy-in you need from relevant departments, and that you land on a solution that meets your entire organization’s needs. Download this template to get started.