A product launch can be a very exciting time for your company and the employees that have been working hard on the project. Many times, teams can get so caught up in the creation of a product they fail to plan for the actual launch. Having a plan is just as vital for a launch as it is for the creation of a product.
Far too often people get “one more thing” syndrome when creating products. It is a seemingly endless chain of “this would be great functionality to add” or “this has to be in before launch”, if you get caught up in such things it negatively impacts the product and, of course, the launch.
So how do you avoid this issue and get your product out the door? This is where your plan comes in. Formulate the plan and include milestones and other critical cut-off dates. Milestones will mark what you need to have completed and by what time. Cut-off dates can be used to control “one more thing” syndrome because it helps a great deal if you set an absolute deadline on when new ideas can be added. The bottom line is, as with many aspects of business, having a plan and sticking to it is crucial.
While your goal should always be to release a perfect product, you have to keep your expectations reasonable. Focus is especially important if the release of your product is time sensitive. Believe it or not, I have witnessed companies delaying a launch and missing a major window of opportunity because they could not stop enhancing their product. It is definitely better to get your product out the door and improve it over time than completely miss the boat and fail miserably.
A company that we can learn a lot from as far as product launches go is Apple. They released the first iPod in 2001 to many negative reviews. Apple knew the iPod was not perfect when they shipped, but getting feedback from consumers who bought or are considering it was invaluable. They knew just what to improve and were able to produce what became an insanely popular device. The same can be said for the iPad. I remember when Steve Jobs announced it and everyone thought it was a giant iPhone without the actual phone, an absolutely ridiculous product. Apple is now dominating the tablet PC market, so I would say their product launch strategies have worked out wonderfully for them.
If you do not get anything else from this article, remember this, create a product launch plan and stick to it. While flexibility is a must in business today, you do not want to deviate so far from a plan that you negatively impact your product release. To quote Matt Mullenweg – “If you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long”.
Photo credit: Steven Depolo