At this month's meeting of the RTP chapter of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE), Lindsey Struckmeyer discussed best practices for managing a publisher transition. These tips can be applied during any major transition including onboarding a new EIC, changing submission systems, or other changes to workflows, processes, or systems. She encouraged participants to view every step of a transition as an opportunity for the journal. Practically, she recommended using a popular tool called a SWOT analysis to help you and your team think critically about ways to improve your journal.
A great first step is setting expectations for how the transition will take place. Simply asking why your journal wants to change publishers may be enough to gain a better understanding of the journal's goals. (And you should always have a compelling reason to make such a significant change). In addition to setting goals, everyone should have a clear understanding of what a successful transition looks like. Brainstorm with your team the defining characteristics of success and what that would take in terms of time, effort, staff, and other resources.
Next, set a realistic timeline. The best timelines are created by working backward from the official transition date in order to estimate the length of time available to complete other tasks. Dates should be communicated to all major stakeholders. Sometimes forgotten departments include Marketing who should be informed in order to communicate with authors. Talking to Marketing early can also help to determine what exactly should be communicated to authors (e.g. login details or the benefits of a new publisher) and whether an opportunity for a website redesign or rebranding exists.
Lastly, communication can be key to managing a transition well. There is no such thing as overcommunication - in fact it's preferred! One way to bolster your communication strategy is to create and update policy documents frequently.
For more information on ISMTE, visit www.ismte.org