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The Top 6 Things We’ve Learned So Far from Implementing Socious

MLA staff are neck-deep right now in preparing for the launch of several new web and IT systems by September. Here are just a few of the things we’ve learned from the process so far.

  1. First, get your terms straight. Always important, but working with a new partner reminds us that words like “keywords,” “topics,” and “groups” may mean one thing to us, but quite another thing when you delve into how they operate technically on a particular system.
  2. We still have a lot of old stuff. In our last website migration, we removed hundreds of ephemeral and outdated pages from the website, with the aim of decluttering search and making the “good stuff” easier to find. But after inventorying our current content, it’s become clear that we still have a lot of work to do in making sure that every piece of content is relevant, readable, and up to date. Improving web content is a major project for many MLA staff this summer!
  3. Project management: an essential skill. The scope of this implementation is ambitious: a new MLANET, a new association management system, and implementing communities, plus transferring 21 section websites and all of our listserv activity onto a new platform. This isn’t the time to go with the flow. Mapping out all the steps clearly and attaching deadlines and people to each task is necessary. Maria Lopez is heading up the project management side of things, and the core web team is meeting each week to check in on our progress.
  4. Simplicity is king and
  5. “No” can be positive. Our current systems are rife with customizations, workarounds, and funky little pockets of “this made sense once upon a time…”  Hearing “no, we can’t do that” or “We could, but…” challenges us to think about what’s really important and whether creating a new workaround will really produce results. In some cases, of course, our current process is important, and we need to come up with creative ways to make it work. But in many others, hearing “no” is a chance to rethink how we’re doing things and let go of overly complicated procedures.  If we’re veering too far from what Socious’s dozens of other association clients have done, it’s sometimes a sign that our thinking is off track.
  6. Audience, audience, audience. User, user, user. When in doubt, keep these two words in mind and choose the option that will result in a better outcome for MLA members.

Many MLA members are also deeply involved in preparing for the rollout, as we work with sections and others to develop their new communities. We’re looking forward to introducing the MLA membership at large to the new systems in the fall!

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