By now you likely know that Google Analytics 3 (aka GA3 or Universal Analytics) is going away this summer. Hopefully, you already have GA4 up and running, or at least have a plan for the transition. You may have even considered an alternative platform, which is likely the right choice for many organizations given the complexities and costs associated with using GA4.  However, among all this planning for the platform migration, do you also have a change management plan for this transition?

It’s important to recognize that the move to GA4 is not just a platform update. The naming convention makes it sound like an update your computer might run while you sleep, and you’d never notice – which is really deceptive and has led many organizations to underestimate the planning required. As my colleague Rick Richards said on a call this week: “GA4 is NOT the ‘new Google Analytics’, it’s a completely different tool.” 

The sunsetting of GA3 is fast approaching in July 2023, so it’s critical to start developing a comprehensive change management plan now. Like with any major platform migration, it requires a thoughtful and strategic approach to change. A thorough change plan should cover all aspects of the migration, from platform selection, to internal communications, to training and adoption. Since many of your key metrics are likely to change as you migrate to GA4, or another analytics tool, these changes likely span well beyond your communications department, making change planning even more critical.

By taking a proactive approach to the GA4 transition, you can minimize disruption to your organization and ensure that you’re able to leverage the full power of this new tool. A few things your team should consider:

Whether GA4 is right for you.

If you’re familiar with Universal Analytics, you’ll probably be surprised the differences in GA4. It’s much more complex and difficult to access the data than GA3 was, so many orgs are choosing a new analytics tool. Have you conducted a thorough evaluation? (You can get started with our GA4 Decision Making Toolkit!)

How you will re-baseline your metrics and KPIs.

The way many metrics – such as use and page view counts – are calculated is changing in GA4, making it hard to compare them to your prior baselines in GA3. We recommend running GA3 and your new analytics tool in parallel as long as possible so you can have a “new baseline” well before July. At some point, you’ll no longer have access to your GA3 data. Do you know yet how your metrics are likely to change?

Your internal communications plan.

With so many metrics changing, you’ll see noteworthy changes in reports that go to everyone from your digital team, to programs, to leadership, to the board, and perhaps even your funders. If pageviews suddenly drop for a key program you are promoting, how will you communicate that to leadership or program funders? Getting a plan in place to let folks know about these changes well in advance is key. Do your stakeholders know that this is coming?

Training and adoption for your team.

Whether you switch to GA4 or a different analytics tool, there will be different processes and workflows for anyone who works with the data and reports you produce. As with any new platform, this might require training materials, planning for additional time spent learning the tool, office hours or expert support to address ongoing questions, and a plan to ensure all teams have adopted the new tool before GA3 is sunset. Have you allocated the time for onboarding, training and adoption?

Whether you are migrating to GA4 or another analytics tool, you will need active change management before, during, and after the transition that’s coming in July. If you find yourself in need of guidance, please reach out to chat with one of our data or change management experts.