Moving (systems) sucks!
I've just recently completed a move to a new house with my wife, and we've *finally* reached the stage of knowing where everything is, and things are more or less how they're going to be for a while. It was an exhausting, stressful process, but at the end, we're very glad we've moved and can see ourselves here for at least a few years, at least until having the mortgage becomes financially worthwhile! During the move process, it occurred to me that moving to a new house has a lot of similarities with moving to a new technology system.
- Long before you actually decide to move to a new place, you (hopefully) have planned out the process, with the key dates and tasks assigned to appropriate people or vendors (the cable company, utility company, etc). You should be doing the same thing with your technology system move. It's a big project, so make sure you've got ballpark timelines, responsible people, key dates all mapped out and clearly communicated. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the "good enough" here - it's better to put a few guesses rather than leave off a major chunk of work.
- When you make the decision to move, you probably have a list of criteria that you're using to decide where to move, such as what part of town you'd like to be in, what kind of house or apartment you're looking for, what amenities you'd like to be close to, how many bedrooms you'd like, what schools are nearby, and more. When choosing to move to a new technology system, you should be doing the same things: making a list of criteria that are important to you and seeing which "houses" match your requirements. For example, when moving to a new donor management system, it may be very important to you that the system generate mailing labels, but it may not be as important to you to have integrated on-line donations. It's also extremely helpful to write these things down, especially if it's not just you making all the decisions (which it rarely is, even if you think it is)!
- You might choose to use a vendor to help you with the process (a moving company), which is what my wife and I chose to do (hey, we're grown-ups, sadly, the days of pizza and beer with friends and boxes are over, we have too much stuff!). We looked at lots of reviews on Yelp and Angie's List, and asked our friends who they used to help us make an informed decision. You should be doing the same things if you choose to work with a vendor: ask around (perhaps on the NTEN Discuss mailing list) for other organizations who've worked with them, look at online reviews if they have some, and ask the vendor themselves if they've worked with an organization like yours. Ultimately you want to know that you've chosen based on something more than the salesperson was really nice.
- Once the actual move is complete, there's still a lot more work to do! Right after we moved, we still had to clean up the house, fix a few small things that needed repair, and, of course, unpack! It's been about a little over a month, and we're only just now starting to feel settled in. This is the first week I stopped looking for the silverware in the wrong drawer! Moving technology systems is the same: even after you've made the big switch, there's probably data to be cleaned up, some tweaks to be made to the system, and ultimately some time for people to feel comfortable in the new system. It's not always obvious where everything is, and people may be "looking in the wrong drawer" for a while after the move.
- Finally, even before we felt settled in, we sent out an invitation to a housewarming party. We knew that if we had this deadline to motivate us, it would inspire us to take care of things. Were there last minute trips to Target and Goodwill? You bet there were! But was the place ready for guests when party-time arrived? Yes, it was. You should schedule a time to celebrate your move to the new system you've chosen! Sometimes it can be fun to hold a celebratory "funeral" for the old system, and a welcome to the new system. This can get people excited about the completion of the move process, and inspire things to get done by the party deadline.
Hopefully once you've made the big move, you'll be glad you did, and remember, moving sucks for everyone, so even if it's painful, don't forget that we've all been there!