Operating a sandbox is a fairly important aspect of your overall marketing software environment and cost item. A few months ago I wrote up this quick recommendation below to share with all of my clients which can help them reconsider whether this is truly going to add value. Does your MA software vendor have a great sandbox solution for you?
1. Beware sandbox environments which are configured as a separate install with no linkage to Production. Most software vendors offer sandboxes that mirror production automatically, allowing changes to the sandbox to be instantly published to production. However in some cases, both instances must be configured independently. This effectively doubles the amount of work required to get a software change added to production.
2. Sandbox usage is still unconventional in MA. While marketing automation software vendors may tout the sandbox as a feature of their Enterprise packages, in practice some of the world’s largest companies have operated their complex MA software successfully for years without a sandbox. Making changes to the software and data does require additional precautions, for example testing on a new process such as integration must be done with limited data sets, most companies tolerate the additional risk for the upside of simplifying their software environment. Further, all service partners have access to a test environment of their own where they can testing an unproven process on behalf of a client, where the risks may be high.
3. Direct software costs. Clients purchasing a MA platform for the first time may be enticed with a free Sandbox during the first year, however once this is embedded in your business you can expect the vendor will want to charge you for that software.