Well the saying goes, it takes a village. Our village of Staffing Industry Analysts has launched the third edition of its Membership System. Unlike launching a new website, the Membership System is our product and because of that, it has to work from day one. Since many of you in our last staffing survey said you were spending money on new websites, I thought I would give you a view from the trenches. I hope you enjoy our adventures in bringing the new Membership System to you.
- We had to hostilely take the content from our old vendor and move it to the new platform. It shouldn't have been this way, but unfortunately, we couldn't get a good content extraction from our previous vendor. The challenges with that is the content doesn't move over perfectly and we had to find a lot of missing content and compare one site to the other
- Right before we were going to launch we learned about how we structured our business and learned we couldn't have the payment system work the way we thought the payment system would work, so we had to re-trench and re-write the payment system
- It was very important for us to have a European presence which meant not only having European content, but also establishing commerce for our European customers -- we will just say, this wasn't easy
- We wanted the new system to be more interactive, more attractive and easier to use. We had to agree on how we were going to use images to support those three objectives -- it is very hard to get a group of analysts, designers and marketing people to agree on how images will get displayed
- As you know, we have free content and content behind a pay wall. We had to make sure all of our users were provisioned properly so that all of you received the content to which you have subscribed. What I will say about this -- provisioning is one of the hardest things to manage when rolling out a new service
- Agree on when to launch. I want to say OMG! no one ever wants to launch. I completely understand this, our staff wants things to be perfect for you our users, well here is what I know -- it will never be perfect, so sometimes you just have to say, let's go
So my advice from the trenches to all of you who have website project plans:
- Being adaptive is key - we left plenty on the editing room floor. Features and functions will come back, but in order to get the system out the door, we couldn't deliver everything
- Have an internal team that is committed to success. Without our internal, cross functional team, we could not have delivered the new system to you
- Make it someone's job to push the project and push it out the door. This was my job. Today, I am not the most popular person in the room, but one day our team will like me again :-)
- Work with a good vendor. The last person I spoke to last night was our developer, and the first person I spoke to this morning was our developer. Okay, so I don't have a personal life, but obviously neither does our developer. Truly, they rode the wave with us and are providing us with great support
- Set expectations appropriately. I think this is really important internally and externally. Let your staff know what you are going to do and let your customers know what is going to happen. We Tweeted, we used LinkedIn, we used our conferences, webinars and Daily News to spread the word
- And finally, don't lose your sense of humor. Without it, launching a new product, website or anything else will be an arduous job
We hope you like what we have done. As always, please give us your feedback and let us know what you like and what we should change.