Perfecting the Product Launch (A 3-Step Plan)
Three Key Dimensions to Create a Perfect B2B Product Launch.
Imagine Apple missing a key launch date for a new iPhone? Unimaginable.
Imagine then your own firms’ efforts to launch a product on time, within budget, to your targeted audience. I’d ask you to take a look and see. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised that things may not be as rosy as you thought.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of product management groups on their go-to-market programs. Not only in helping them orchestrate their product launches but on their post-launch audits and post-business case audits.
Without belaboring the point that things don’t always go as planned, I wanted to provide you with three dimensions, that when approached correctly, can increase the odds that any product management organization can consider to have product launches come off without a hitch.
Dimension 1: Customer Readiness
I was recently working with a company on an advanced technology product (actually, it was a system) that had to be ready for delivery on a specific date. During our product launch workshop, it became apparent that no one on the product management team had identified what was needed to prepare an early adopter customer – to “pave the way” so to speak for the product to be delivered, received, and prepared for use. There was a root-cause to this. There wasn’t a fully understood customer target, and more, the underlying needs of the customers within the segment. The cure: understand the entire customer “organization” and who the key players are so that the right people can “receive” your product.
Dimension 2: Organizational Readiness
In another situation, I was working with a services firm in the preparation of a product business case for a new offer. What was interesting was that the product was proven to be viable and the customers were waiting with open arms. Unfortunately, the product was late to market because various people in the product management team did not have a unified launch plan with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Also overlooked were areas associated with operational support, customer service, and fulfillment. The cure: make sure all cross-functional stakeholders agree to their roles in launch execution – at the time the business case is completed.
Dimension 3: Product Readiness
Interestingly, in many cases, the product remains in development or in some limbo-land of validation testing. This occurs when no there isn’t a unified product management view of the schedule of deliverables, and again, a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities. Alternatively, sometimes, the product’s development is just delayed due to scope changes or technologies that don’t work properly. At the heart of this challenge is the fact that the product definition is not as robust as it needs to be. Also, in iterative development environments (as in Agile), the user stories don’t always hang together as a unified “product storybook” that serves as a systemic narrative. In other words, the big picture of the customer problem and overall solution isn’t in plain sight. Cure: be clear about the product’s definition with the big picture in mind of what problem the product is solving, and for whom.
While there is any number of other areas and details that any product management organization can consider, it’s always a good idea to look at these three dimensions holistically. This way, you and your teams will have a greater opportunity to achieve the strategic product and market goals that were set.
If you’d like to improve the chances that your product hits the ground running, you’ll want to get the Product Launch Template. Click below.
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