Replatforming: most frequent challenges and how to approach them
These days replatforming, platform upgrades, and digital transformations have become a continuous process for many businesses. The pace at which consumers and businesses need to shift makes us aware of how change is more and more becoming the only constant.
There are many reasons why companies see the need for change, like:
- Slow speed to market of deploying new features/content for their consumers
- High internal costs
- Corporate strategies executions (I.e., expansion to new markets, opening new sales channels or providing better user experiences)
- Low compliance in various areas (legal, accessibility, brand, and others).
- Various security risks
Since replatforming can cover a wide range of business segments (I.e., HR resource-related processes, internal communications, warehouse optimization, etc.), we will focus on the digital transformations of websites and connected platforms.
People, processes, and platforms are the key factors of a successful replatforming project. Each of those can make a significant contribution to the project’s success or failure. So, let’s dive deeper into each segment to ensure the right 3Ps are on your side.
The right people
It all starts and ends with people. Everything we do, we do for the people impacted by the change. People are the most important key factor of all three mentioned. Things that most frequently go wrong here fall into one of the below-mentioned categories:
- The discrepancy between the business needs and the company’s strategy
- A lack of know-how to set up and lead the transformation
- No clear roles and responsibilities and ownership
- Disconnected departments and siloed thinking
- Lack of connection across regions/markets
If the company’s strategy is not aligned with the change, there’s a high risk the project will not get appropriate funding or resources. Having a clear sense of urgency regarding the upcoming change, clear communication on the whys, and support from high levels in building bridges between departments, regions, and markets can propel the project significantly.
Without clear roles and responsibilities, there is a risk of either “having too many chefs in the kitchen”, or no one delivering on a critical project phase. Clear onboarding and RACI roles split (when needed) can significantly help. Creating a timeline with a clear division of project stages and splitting responsibilities among different stakeholders can ensure team members set aside time when their involvement is needed the most.
The lack of know-how and dedicated resources can be resolved internally through reassignment or recruitment. The alternative is external resources engagement. The hybrid approach has most often proven to be the best solution. By implementing this approach, you will leverage your internal teams that know your organization and brand and, therefore, can contribute with this critical knowledge. On the other hand, an external partner is most likely to be savvier in the platforms you will need to implement. Also, they have most likely gone through the implementation process numerous times and can help make better choices architecture-wise and speed up the project significantly.
To sum it up, the project might face delays, budget overruns, and frustrations if the above is not planned properly.
The process is here to help you navigate and ensure milestones and KPIs are met. While making sure you do not overcomplicate.
The right process
The process is adjustable based on the extent of the change planned for implementation in the company. For example, migrating one website to a new CMS is one level of complexity vs. several dozen migrations across regions globally. The process is here to help you navigate and ensure milestones and KPIs are met. While making sure you do not overcomplicate. Rarely is there one size fits all.
Here is a brief list of questions to ask before starting the replatforming process start:
- Can your team do the discovery phase adequately internally? Can your team capture business needs correctly? Can you, with certainty, identify the key stakeholders? Can we assess all the risks?
- Does your team have the required know-how to prepare the project roadmap?
- Does your team have the know-how to plan the new architecture? Can the team assess which segments of the legacy systems you can keep for now vs. what to replace as a priority?
- Is the team able to plan the migration process? What are your plans for content, data, and other segments migration? Does your company have any license renewal to keep in mind as a fixed milestone?
- Does your team have adequate tools and processes to communicate and collaborate?
- What are the processes and criteria for assessing the tools planned for implementation?
- Is your team able to set the project KPIs? Do you have ways to measure them?
- How will your team handle the Operations stage of the project? What about the team & budget to support ongoing system maintenance and upgrades?
Based on the above, you will most likely be able to conclude to which extent you can internally cover the replatforming and in which areas external support can be a crucial contributor.
Do not disregard the Operations stage of the project. Here issues can be from lack of funding (I.e., if the project gets handed over to other departments or teams), lack of processes and tools to support the project’s Operations stage, lack of clear communication, and many others. Sometimes businesses deprioritize the whole initiative once it comes to this stage, which could make the investment futile.
The right platforms (MarTech)
The right platforms and tools can truly do miracles for today’s business, but you need to make sure they are capturing the needs and priorities adequately. The Martech space is becoming rather crowded, and new products are entering the market at a staggering rate.
There are more than 10000 products that, kind of, all do the same thing, but they do not. Choosing the right solution that will be future-proof and fit well in your marketing mix is not easy.
Here are just some questions that need answering:
- What are the major pain points with the current system?
- Is it key for your business to deploy new content as quickly as possible?
- Do you need to empower your local team or different departments more?
- Do you need to improve the overall compliance process?
- Do you need to improve the security segments of your system?
- Is the system you are building future-proof?
Beware of some of the things that most frequently go wrong:
- Lack of budget for replatforming
- Lack of ownership or implementation details about the legacy systems (or lack of ownership in general)
- Lack of know-how or time to properly evaluate new systems
In terms of platform choice, you need to make sure you are future-proofing your plan.
Composable architectures and headless CMSs like Contentful are easily scalable and with various plug-ins expandable to cover the business needs you did not even know you had. These also allow businesses to implement the change gradually, which helps minimize the risks and split the investment into smaller chunks.
A good solution partner and the best-of-breed platforms can really do miracles for your business in terms of increasing the speed of deploying new features or content, improving your consumers’ digital experiences, and increasing ROI.
At the end of the day
Every journey needs to start with the first step. Even if that step might be realizing that a company needs to replatform, it is a good first step.
Assessing and addressing the risks at the beginning of the journey is the right way to go. Investing in this phase will surely bring a high yield in later stages and avoid delays and additional expenses. You might conclude that you do not have the resources to implement the full-scale digital transformation in the upcoming fiscal period or that there is too much resistance to change within the organization. In this case, starting on a small scale might be the right approach for your brand.
Having the right partner by your side that went through the process numerous times can reduce the risks significantly, show tips and tricks on how to cut timings, execute in stages where needed, and find ways to make the whole process right-sized for the business.
If you wish to see more about cases and challenges, check out the following cases: