Every year, nearly 10 percent of B2B organizations with a marketing automation platform (MAP) in place switch to a new marketing automation vendor. Why? The reasons range from seeking a platform with more usability or more features to infrastructure changes after a merger or acquisition to executive preference (e.g. the new CMO previously used vendor XYZ).

When organizations have a limited number of active programs, forms and emails, MAP migration can be quick (e.g. one to three days) and use a “prepare, suspend, migrate and activate” approach. In more complex environments with dozens of active programs, MAP migration is more challenging and requires a phased approach, including a period when the old and new MAP exist in parallel.

Regardless of whether the MAP transition requires a quick cutover or a more protracted migration, your project will benefit if you minimize disruptions and reduce project complexity. Use the following guidelines to establish the project schedule:

  • Define timing. Changing marketing automation platforms requires a sizable amount of work to be performed in a compressed timeframe. Schedule migration when there are relatively fewer demands on the team’s time, or carve out this window. The windowsmay correspond to major holidays, or the beginning of quarters, for example.
  • Clear the schedule. Once the timing of the marketing automation migration is scheduled, inform field and program marketing. Shift the timing of batch email distributions and other MAP-dependent programs to before or after the migration. By phasing execution dates outside of the migration window, team bandwidth is expanded and project complexity is reduced.
  • Define phases. Though marketing automation migration is often viewed as one project, the project works better when it comprises multiple phases. Breaking the effort into phases minimizes project risk by scoping data and activity migration activities into manageable parts.
  • List risk factors. Define risk factors for the marketing automation migration project, and rank each factor as high, medium or low in terms of likelihood to happen and severity of impact. Common project risks include team bandwidth shortages, problems with the transition of active programs or the migration of data outside the sales force automation platform, and gaps in the new MAP technology. Specify mitigation strategies for all risk factors, and develop action plans for those considered high- or medium-risk to be sure the team is ready to handle them.