Seeing product ideas come to fruition is one of the most exciting aspects of Product Management. If these launches are not carefully planned, however, you stand to lose a lot of the goodwill you have built with internal and external stakeholders. The journey to launch can be arduous, but with positive sentiment and team collaboration, it becomes much more enjoyable. The key is to map out the journey through smooth development, internal stakeholder training, and go-to-market.
It is an amazing feeling to see product ideas gradually come to life over development cycles. In order to efficiently complete development and avoid the need for rework, first consider the product components that will require engineering efforts. Next, outline the high-level updates by component. This exercise will help define the Epics associated with the overall initiative and the teams responsible for them. For example, you may need to engage two separate Engineering teams if both the customer-facing dashboard and backend databases require enhancements. Review the drafted list with all relevant team managers to validate that you have captured the full scope.
The Development Journey
There are multiple ways to determine an estimated project date. One is to use what was agreed to during quarterly planning. This will provide a target delivery date in a given quarter (e.g., Q4 of this year). Furthermore, work with the relevant Engineering teams to develop estimates for completing the Epics, such as how many sprint cycles might be required. Then, refine it further, work with the team to break down the Epics into Stories and assess the development time required for each. Be sure to note any dependencies between tasks as this would affect the sequence and estimated timeline. Also, beware that some of these dependencies may be external to your organization (e.g., product delivery fulfillment may require third-party tools).
There is no shortage of tools to use when tracking work and progress. For example, your Engineering teams may use Jira or GitLab. Alternatively, a more traditional project planning tool such as Smartsheet or Microsoft Project can be leveraged. Whichever tool you decide to use, make sure that the teams executing the work are willing to adopt and use it. Finally, partnering with your project management team to build a process wherein owners can easily track tasks, update status, and share next steps can help keep development on track.
Tip: If using Jira, you can also build the project plan using Jira Portfolio or Next-Gen project. This provides the added benefit of always displaying the latest Jira ticket status.
The Internal Stakeholder Training Journey
In parallel, map out the plan for involving other areas of the organization and training them as necessary. Inform the Marketing team about the product launch well in advance. This way, they can develop the messaging strategy and relevant collateral. Sales should also be aware of upcoming launches so that they can discuss them with prospects and customers. More importantly, they should be trained by the Product team to ensure that new products and enhancements are being presented appropriately. Collaborate with your Customer Success and Support teams to draft both internal knowledgebase articles and customer-facing documentation. These cross-departmental efforts will facilitate a smoother launch, streamline customer onboarding, and sustain goodwill across departments.
The Go-to-Market Journey
With the development and stakeholder training summits charted, the Go-to-Market is the next path to navigate. This will enable your product to travel from the confines of your organization into the hands of your customers. Do this by working with your Product Marketing team to define the communication strategy. Doing this before launch allows you to continue momentum and deliver value to customers as soon as possible. This ensures that there is sufficient time to produce collateral, conduct customer outreach, or organize events. Once customers adopt the product, actively seek out opportunities for testimonials and case studies. These will be invaluable for increasing the number of users that benefit from your product.
With the above-mentioned journeys mapped out, you can be confident that your organization is ready and excited to rally around the product launch. Take a breath, map it out, and embrace the wondrous expedition ahead.
About the speaker
Bharat Manglani is a Product Manager at White Ops, a cybersecurity company focused on verifying the humanity of transactions over the Internet and disrupting the economics of cybercrime. He started his career with 10 years as a technology strategy consultant and then pivoted into the technology sector to pursue his passion for managing the end-to-end product lifecycle. In his current role he manages the customer facing portal, which empowers users to mitigate sophisticated fraud across their advertising, marketing and application ecosystems.