Simply developing a product doesn’t mean it’ll be a success. Plenty of elements determine how well a product is received — and a lot of that begins with product launch planning.
How will you unveil your product to the world? Who will be able to access your product when it first launches? What features do you need for the product's initial development, and what features should be saved for further down the road? How do you make sure everything is ready in time for the launch date you’re hoping for?
Product launch planning melds your development strategy and your sales and marketing strategy to ensure every department works together and aligns on key goals. It’s a whirlwind of a race to the finish line, but it’s also an exciting time for product developers. How will your product be received? What will customers and stakeholders think?
In this post, we discuss seven key strategies for successful product launch planning. Time for takeoff! 🚀
1. Set clear goals and define what success looks like
Set clear objectives and be realistic about what you hope to accomplish. Setting lofty, unattainable goals will distract from what matters most, and it can lead to disappointment, lack of motivation, and reduced morale.
Be clear about who on the product team is responsible for what and ensure team members outside of product development, including sales teams and marketing teams, are involved in product launch planning.
How will you go to market? What do you hope to accomplish with your launch? What product launch planning needs to happen before you can move forward? What pre-launch deliverables are critical to moving development forward? What roadblocks could prevent your success?
When you understand what you are trying to accomplish, it’s easier to tell when you’re successful. Don’t leave anything open-ended so that everyone on the team knows what you’re working toward and how to get there.
2. Get to know your audience
Great products are developed when customer needs are at the forefront of decision making. No matter what stage of product launch planning you’re in, you should always keep the customer journey top of mind. Consider how each decision you make brings value to your customers.
Customer personas describe important details about a target audience, such as pain points, behavioral patterns, demographics, goals, and buying habits. Deeply understanding who you are building a product for and what they need is vital to a successful product and a successful product launch.
Easy Agile TeamRhythm supports user story mapping, helping teams empathize with customers so that development and launch decisions can be made based on what will provide the most value to your target market.
3. Gather feedback and test, test, test
Test, test, test! We can’t say this enough. You need to continually test, ask questions, and gather market research.
Get your product in front of stakeholders and customers frequently to gather feedback along the way. The more you learn as you develop your product, the more issues you will sort out as you go, and the better the project will be in the end.
The testing process will also give you a deeper insight into what your users are looking for, so you can better meet customer needs. How do they interact with the product? What issues arise? What questions do they have? Do they understand how to use it? What features are they looking for?
Gather as much feedback as possible so you can continually improve the product leading up to the launch. Bring your stakeholders and customers into your process to better understand their needs and how you can provide consistent value.
4. Use comprehensive tools to track product launch planning
Product launch planning is a complex process with many moving parts, team members, and deadlines. Having the right tools is essential to the success of the launch. The whole team needs to be able to see what is planned, what is expected, and how each piece leading up to the launch is connected.
Establish a clear product launch plan template that guides the team forward. Backtrack from the desired launch date to create a launch timeline that recognizes everything that needs to get done before the product is put out into the world.
A product launch roadmap is an effective tool for tracking your progress. Roadmaps help teams align their vision, keep track of specific product launch dates, and provide a clear visual of the most critical prioritizations.
5. Focus on an initial great product, not features
Focus on your minimum viable product first. This is your top development priority before launching — no matter how tempting other fancy features may be.
Fancy features may be appealing, but they could slow down development, add unnecessary stress on the team, and cause unwelcome issues right before you’re supposed to launch your product. Put in the work to develop a product that meets stakeholder needs and delights customers. If this goes well, there will be plenty of opportunities to zero in on other features down the road.
6. Expect the unexpected
No matter how much feedback you gather and how many tests you run, there are always surprises when it comes to launching a new product. Launch day may not go as smoothly as you hoped. It’s okay if things don’t go exactly as you expected, so long as you’ve prepared for these possibilities and can adjust.
Extensive product launch planning will help you navigate surprises. It also helps to practice the motions beforehand. Give yourself time before the new product launch to review and practice the steps that need to play out. Rehearse your process to smooth out as many possible hiccups as you can. The extra time you spend running through the motions will also help ease the nerves of the team members involved in the launch process.
7. Hold a retrospective after the launch
After all is said and done, there’s still one more important step to your product launch planning. A retrospective helps teams examine the launch strategy and how everything played out. What went well? What didn’t go so well? And what can be learned from the process?
Even if you won’t launch another product any time soon, a post-launch retrospective is a great opportunity to learn from your experience. You can take these insights and success metrics into account when launching future features or other products down the road. Plus, it gives the team a chance to debrief after launch activities conclude.
Let’s recap those strategies one more time:
1. Set clear goals and define what success looks like.
2. Get to know your audience.
3. Gather feedback and test, test, test.
4. Use comprehensive tools to track product launch planning.
5. Focus on an initial great product, not features.
6. Expect the unexpected.
7. Hold a retrospective after the launch.
Learn more on the Easy Agile blog
There’s more where this came from. We’re dedicated to helping teams work better using agile tools and practices. We make simple, collaborative, customer-focused plugins for Jira, and we regularly publish articles on strategies, agile information, and how-to guides for product managers and agile teams.