(This article is cross-posted at onproductmanagement.net)
A product launch or release takes time, effort and money. It takes energy. You can’t always guarantee the success of the product when it hits the hands of the market; but, with some extra effort, you can guarantee the success of the launch.
First, any launch means you stay put!
When you are about to launch a product or a release, where are you? Physically, where are you? Are you away at a partner summit? Maybe you are working at home? Perhaps you’ve scheduled a series of customer visits. In general you SHOULD be getting out of the office. But, launch time is not the right time to leave.
Now what? Everyone else should take control of their own pieces of the process and you can always check in from your remote locations to enable you to sleep at night, right?
But what if something really does go wrong? Your digital downloads won’t download? Your software links don’t link? How do you ensure that any problems that do come up are minimized and are never noticed by the customer? YOU have to take complete ownership and responsibility. You DO need to be there in case your best laid plans don’t work out as expected. Since YOU are the one point of contact who knows how to get just about anything done, YOU have the knowledge to make corrections to a launch that goes off course. As a product professional, you CANNOT assume that all the pieces will work as planned, and you need to prepare for worst case scenarios.
Think of it as a Disaster Recovery Plan for Launch
Have a plan for how to respond in the event of failure. This might be a good place for the (dreaded) launch checklist to make an appearance, simply to ensure that last minute details are properly taken care of. Create a series of “what-if scenarios” and talk with your team about how you would respond, including details, and document the agreed responses. Will you prepare for every situation? No. And, you shouldn’t. But, hit the high points of the biggest concerns. (While not recommended, even if you don’t document the scenarios, simply talking about the possibility for problems helps you prepare.) Another good item to add to the launch documents is a simple contact
list of who is responsible for any failure.
There is so much effort and energy and preparedness for a product/release launch, when the time comes you need to take control for the launch success. Control will be easier to achieve if 1) you are physically present in the office; and, 2) you prepare – and are ready – for the worst.
Looking in from the outside, experience teaches us that once prepared the worst seldom, if ever, happens. But, you’ll be able to sleep better knowing you were ready … just in case.