Be sure to continue the momentum throughout the journey by engaging cross-functional teams and keeping the communication flowing. Use the plan you’ve prepped as a guide and roll with the punches. Then enjoy and celebrate that incredible launch feeling!
As you steer cross-functional teams towards the product launch, the ship will encounter currents flowing in many different directions. Each team will have its own set of high priorities that your product feature must compete with. This can easily wreak havoc on your progress along the route to product launch. Use the below tactics to align your stakeholders and collectively guide the initiative in the right direction.
Aligning Through Effective Communication
It is extremely challenging to deliver clear and consistent communication to all of your team members. Each colleague sits across different parts of the organization and has conflicting perspectives on which initiatives are mission-critical. To mitigate this, continuously reinforce why the product launch is important to both your customers and the organization. Include the specific team goals associated with launch within your communications to provide context on how the feature fits into each team’s mission. Furthermore, let each team know how their efforts fit into the broader project plan and why they are critical for success.
The channels for the above communications can include a variety of formats depending upon what works best for the teams involved. For example, recurring cross-functional meetings are a great way to stay aligned. Office instant messaging services such as Slack provide another means to engage in discussions by topic and keep the project top of mind across stakeholders. On the Engineering front, cross-team Kanban boards and Agile ceremonies help to establish transparency during the development process. These collaboration tools will not only maintain alignment but also provide timely visibility into issues and risks.
Leveraging Escalation Paths Judiciously
As you move towards product launch, there are bound to be obstacles along the way. Internally, teams may hit roadblocks with technical feasibility and will need to engineer alternative solutions. Externally, customers could push back on upcoming feature launches due to the fear of breaking changes or an unwillingness to embrace the product iteration. Highlight these types of risks in your communications to raise awareness and solicit valuable feedback from stakeholders early on. This discussion is critical to leverage diversity of thought for efficient problem-solving.
If the product feature launch still remains blocked, though, judiciously employ escalation paths. Reach out to team managers to notify them of project risks that require their attention. As a result of driving continuous communications throughout the product life cycle, your stakeholders will be encouraged to help in redirecting the ship’s helm towards product launch. Rather than placing blame on any specific party, try reiterating the feature’s value to meet organizational goals, while objectively describing the inherent barrier. This will alleviate political friction along the way.
Rolling With the Punches
The quest to achieve product milestones will always come with a multitude of demanding requirements that will need to be addressed. First and foremost, stay clear on the initiative’s purpose and openly embrace unplanned events as they arise. Your steadfastness will set an example for the broader team and give you the mental space to provide direction. Additionally, engage others to join you in creatively solving complex issues. This will ensure that others can weigh in based upon their expertise and remove yourself from the position of the single point of failure.
Lastly, take on a learner’s mindset to gather knowledge on why these incidents occurred and how they can be even better managed in the future. Don’t be afraid of setbacks as they are also opportunities to glean valuable product insights. Furthermore, your advanced planning of the product development and rollout will ensure that failures along the way will not have catastrophic impacts. For more advice on successfully executing product launches and leading cross-functional teams, the ProductPlan Product Launch Book is a handy reference guide.
As you move onwards from this incredible accomplishment, consider the long term view of the product’s lifecycle. After all, Melissa Perri notes, “The real role of the product manager in the organization is to work with a team to create the right product that balances meeting business needs with solving user problems.” What activities will you help drive to gain awareness, adoption, engagement, and ultimately delighted users? Maintain this perspective to guide your product and team toward continued success.
About the speaker
Bharat Manglani is a Product Manager at ZEFR, which focuses on powering the age of responsible marketing. 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 prior role at HUMAN (formerly White Ops), he managed the customer facing portal which empowers users to mitigate sophisticated fraud across their advertising, marketing and application ecosystems.