Those fabulous folks in their black turtlenecks at the design agency have just delivered the next big thing in website user experience for your brand.
The IT team has wrangled the shiny new CMS into a thoroughbred content delivery machine. And with the consumption of Pennsylvania’s annual output of snacks and Hawaii’s output of Kona coffee – an amount so large if it were in one cup it could be seen from space – the development team turned those fancy pictures and the state of the art technology into… a website.
Here it is, in time and in budget (well sorta), there’s a champagne cork shaped dent in the ceiling of the CMO’s office and half empty pizza boxes and beer bottles in conference room F. Hello world. You’ve gone LIVE.
It’s time for phase two.
But, phase two is a myth.
The big push is over, the budget is all dried up and we’ll go back to our day jobs.
Its sad, but all the hard and interesting stuff that enabled you to keep phase one on track was in phase two. It was the safety net, it was fine to push out this cool new feature to the next phase to keep phase one on time because we’ll be doing it soon, but now that’s not happening.
We’ll revert back to our old habits. We’ll compromise our governance principles. We’ll forget about the day we discovered our “batman” persona and we’ll let politics rule our content output. Our marketers will turn from defining a contemporary customer experience back to short order cooks, dumping out PDF’s because someone in the product team said so.
Our shiny new website and its state-of-the-art CMS will spend the next three years degenerating and quickly turning into everything we hated with the old site.
In four years we’ll be right back here, throwing our CMS baby out with the bath water (it’s obviously the tools fault), with fresh budget and new designers and in five years there’ll be a different dent in a different CMO’s office.
In the euphoria no one will look back and realize that the first go-live date was actually the date that project started to die.
Alternatively…. How do we avoid the slow death march to being right back here in five years?
Yes, getting to go-live is an achievement, yes to champagne, yes to pizza, yes to the beer – but like the way we splash the good stuff as we launch a ship, this is just the start.
First – understand from an effort and budget perspective phase one is for sure a capital expenditure, but plan for an operational budget and staffing for the next three years that isn’t just about keeping the site live, but that there is a line item for innovation or incremental improvement.
Next – take a look at what you put into phase two. All that hard and interesting stuff you put in this phase contributes to your differentiated customer experience. It’s the stuff that will keep the site vibrant, that will keep your site relevant and contemporary. Its things like personalization, adaptive mobile experiences and social publishing – the stuff that will stop “the business” from sowing seeds of discontent, which ultimately will kill the current site. Make the stuff in phase two important and a priority.
Thirdly – Measure, track and refine. Remember when you were in Conference Room F and you decided on the “batman” persona? Check if the data supports it – does batman like black cars? Are you seeing the engagement you were expecting, should you course correct with the style of content you are producing or redefine the audience you are reaching? Stay relevant.
This isn’t go-live, this is launch.