DTM-to-Launch Migration Series #3: The Migration Process

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(This is cross-posted from the 33 Sticks Blog)

Thus far in this series, we’ve discussed your options for a DTM-to-Launch Migration, and some potential areas you can improve upon your solution as part of a migration. As you can see from my previous posts, there are a lot of possible considerations for a DTM-to-Launch migration. So what might the actual process look like to get your company on Launch instead of DTM?

Figure Out How You’ll Roll Out

Does it make sense for your org to roll Launch out all at once to all of your properties? Or would you prefer to bite off one chunk at a time? (For instance, one client is currently updating their internal search single page app, so they’re going to roll out Launch there first, as a sort of guinea pig.) Keep in mind that even if you are only rolling out Launch to 3 pages first, ANY roll out is going to have to tackle some global logic- it may be that those first three pages are the hardest because you’ll need to tackle how to handle not just the requirements for those three pages, but also global items like authentication status or global marketing tags.
If you do want to roll out all at once, you can keep using the same DTM embed code you always have so your developers don’t need to make changes to the pages, but that’s an all-or-nothing option (once you switch to Launch, Launch will “own” that embed code unless you choose to re-publish from DTM), and it only works in prod (dev/staging environments will still need the new embed codes).

Also, if you’re considering having DTM and Launch run alongside each other on the same page…. don’t even consider this an option. It won’t work. Both tools use the _satellite object and one WILL overwrite the other and/or get very confused by the presence of the other.

Validation

Keep in mind the effort to validate things- even if you are doing a “simple lift-and-shift”, you will still need to validate that Launch is doing all the things that DTM had been doing. Depending on how well-documented your current implementation is, and/or what QA efforts are currently in place, this may mean figuring out what it is that DTM is currently doing so you know whether Launch is matching it or not. This is a golden opportunity to set up some QA processes, if you haven’t already.
If you don’t have a solid process already in place, you won’t be able to test every possible beacon for every possible user, but you should can set up a testing procedure in place for critical beacons on your most typical flows. Note, none of this is specific to DTM or Launch, but is a best practice regardless and will help with the DTM-to-Launch migration.

  • Establish key user flows and document each beacon in the flow’s expected variables
  • Use a tool like Observepoint or Hub’scan to automate testing
  • For your KPIs, in Adobe Analytics set up anomaly detection and/or alerts based on reasonable thresholds (alert me if revenue dips below $___ or visits climbs above ___)

This is all much easier if you used the migration as a chance to document your solution.

Audit What You’ve Got and What You Want

Unfortunately, Adobe does not provide a great way to document all of your current rules and data elements in DTM. Fortunately, there is a tool to help: Tagtician has a free chrome extension that can create a spreadsheet with a list of all your data elements, rules (including third party tags and what is deployed in the Adobe Analytics/Google Analytics section of each rule.) I cannot overstate how incredibly helpful this has been for every DTM migration project I’ve been on.
Depending on how ambitious our migration plans are (on a scale of “lift-and-shift” to “burn it down and start fresh”), I’ve used this as a basis for a new solution design, so we know on each user action what variables are expected, where those variables are set, and where they pull their information from:

Then I take that to figure out how to deploy it through Launch (which may or may not look anything like how it was deployed in DTM): for instance, if pageName is always going to get it’s value from the same data element, I can set that in a global rule that fires on all page loads. Whereas my search variables can get their own rule, which will combine with the global rule on the search results page to create one analytics beacon with all the variables I need. Now that you can control load order and when analytics beacons fire in Launch, you may be able to really compartmentalize logic based on scope and get rid of redundancy in your implementation.

Decide On Your Publishing Flow

Launch has a new publishing flow- it’s no longer just staging vs production. You now have development (as many environments as you need), staging, and production; no changes automatically get built into a library unless you set it up to; you can use libraries to group together changes and move a group through the flow. If you only have one person in Launch at a time, and that one person tends to do most approvals and publishes, then the flow can definitely seem like “too much.” But for a lot of bigger organizations, this new flow is a game changer.
Part of moving to Launch is figuring out how this flow should apply to your organization. For example, one client came up with something similar to this:

At the start of each sprint, they create a library with that sprint name, and link it to the main dev environment. Each member of their analytics team has their own permanent library in dev, linked to alternative dev environments (which aren’t referenced by any pages and are only really interacted with through the switcher plugin- basically a sandbox for them to build in, using the switcher plugin to see the effect of their efforts in dev). As changes are completed and pass their first round of validation, they get moved into the Sprint’s library, which at the end of the sprint moves into Staging, where it is validated by the developer/UX QA team before being approved and published. (This is just an example- there is no single “right way” to use this flow, it was designed to be flexible for a reason.)
Be aware, once a library has “claimed” an environment (which is linked to an embed code), no other library can claim that environment, so if you want multiple libraries you will need multiple dev environments.
Also, you can no longer use code in a developer console to switch between environments- currently, the only way I know to switch between environments is to use the Search Discovery switcher chrome extension or to use something like Charles Proxy Map Remote.

The Migration Project Plan

A DTM-to-Launch migration can become quite the involved project. For the simplest of migrations, it still may be 4-6 weeks to migrate within the tools, do any necessary validation, and publish your changes. It may only need to be one or two main analytics/TMS folks and/or a QA person working on it.
Or, it may be a 9 month project that involves devs, QA/UAT, data architects, analysts… don’t underestimate the resource cost of the migration (though at the same time, don’t undervalue the long-term resource savings if you take the time to get it right as part of the migration and (re)build a scalable, maintainable, well-documented solution.)
For instance, below is an example of how a Launch migration could go. This example does not include any changes to the data layer, but does include a substantial attempt to re-deploy analytics rather than merely shift the existing implementation with all the same rules and data elements.

Next Steps and Resources

As you can see, even a simple lift-and-switch to Launch can be a bit involved, and folks can feel daunted by all the considerations, options, and things to be aware of. I’ve tried to be as thorough and comprehensive as possible in this series, and I hope I hit the right level of detail to give practical guidance on how to tackle a DTM-to-Launch migration. There is a great community out there for folks who need DTM/Launch support- check out the following resources:

Hopefully this series helped, but feel free to reach out if you have questions or if you’d like to engage with us to make sure you get off on the right foot as you move to Launch.

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