5 Steps to ‘Soft Launch’ your System

By Daman Arora | July 15, 2019
When it comes to school-wide photo sharing, it’s always a good idea to take things one step at a time – particularly when it comes to managing who can do what in the system.
This is where ‘soft launching’ comes in, which is basically rolling out and providing groups of people access to your platform. Once you have invited key users to your system, and started adding content to it, it’s time to move on to a larger test group. Here are 5 steps to get started:

1 – Identify Your ‘Test’ Group

Bringing in your key users (administrative staff) is the first step. They’re in, they’re invested, and they’re already playing a part in getting content uploaded and organized into the system. Next, you’ll want to look for a group of people at your school who are actively capturing content in school events and activities. These groups are also usually familiar with faces across campus and can easily identify them in photos:

  • Parent associations (we hear lower school parents are always super engaged!)
  • Yearbook teams
  • Journalism club

Tip: Many schools kick things off with just faculty and staff first to see how things go for a semester or a year. This allows you to keep your content within school-personnel control, without needing to invite parents and students just yet.

Whoever you may choose from your staff, it’s critical that you monitor how they take to the system, challenges they may come across that could be been avoided via proper communications or training, and what they love about it. You can use this info to your advantage when you roll out your media management application to the broader community. 

2 – Identify Roles and Permissions

What kind of access do you plan to give your community? Do you want them to focus on one specific task, like tagging, or are you looking for them to contribute their own media? Roles and permissions are a great way to ensure that the right people can access and engage with content, without giving away too much to those who may not need it or those whom you do not wish to give more access.

Based on the available permissions in your photo management system, it’s always best to start with less, and grant more abilities as required to different sets of people.

Tip: create custom roles for certain users that can be adjusted for their unique needs. For example, you may wish to create a custom ‘parent photographer’ role that allows the user to not only upload and tag photos, but also add copyright or watermark certain images so they cannot be downloaded by the community. 

3 – Build Awareness

If the people you want in your system don’t know it exists, we may have a problem!

Communicate thoroughly and frequently with your test group well in advance on what is coming, and how the system is beneficial, and how it works, but be sure to not overwhelm them! Once you get the buy-in, word will continue to spread organically. As these test users become experts, they can serve as strong advocates for the app following the official launch. They can also help support the community, taking a load off of your internal communications team’s shoulders! In the long run, these early adopters will continue to put the good word out, and drive more engagement.

Train them well: It may be worth looking at the support materials provided by your system vendor. Can any of these items be shared out to your community to build awareness? Make a habit of sharing resources and training with your initial test group, whether its videos, support articles, or best practices. It’s also a great idea to create a specific group email address that you and your internal team can direct people to and monitor if anyone has an inquiry (i.e. media@gnw.org).

4 – Invite!

Once you have all your ducks in a row, go ahead and start inviting your desired users into the platform.

As always, make sure you do give these users a heads up on what they are given access to, which should be a part of the previous step. Encourage them to ask questions when needed and allow them to explore and upload content at their own pace. Lastly, be sure that these users are getting into their accounts and are using the platform. Some applications allow you to see which users have already set up and logged into their accounts successfully, while others may not have that level of information. It’s best to stay connected with these users and keep checking their activity, sending a reminder where due.

5 – Get Feedback

The soft launch is meant to serve as a pilot or test to see how well your platform takes off, so collecting feedback is a must!

Note how your test community reacted to and adopted the new platform, but also ask them for their opinions. This will give you insight into what your greater community may experience after the official launch later on, and you may spare yourself from certain issues or miscommunication.

Once you have had a chance to collect and reflect on this insight, think about what changes you need to make as you move on to the next phase – launching your platform to your “full” community.

About Daman Arora: Daman has been as a Customer Success professional for almost 10 years, working with some of the largest companies in the world, such as Salesforce. He has also been a part of a 3-person startup! Now, he is managing the Vidigami Customer Success and Support team, sharing his years of experience to provide the best possible service to each school that uses Vidigami.