Launching a new product can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. To ensure a successful launch, it's crucial to have a solid plan in place and stay organized throughout the process. This launch day checklist provides a comprehensive guide for tech leaders to prepare for launch day and hit the ground running. By following the steps outlined in this checklist, you can be confident in a smooth and successful launch day.
1. Define Your MVP
Before they can launch a product, a team needs to agree on what their definition of MVP, or Minimal Viable Product, will be. It’s important to find a healthy balance between the leanest, yet the most impactful set of features that will set the foundation for success.
Some exercises that help define MVP are an impact/effort matrix or an impact analysis.
Impact Effort Matrix
You may have heard of an action priority matrix, it’s essentially the same thing as an impact effort matrix. We like using Miro’s template as an easy way to align priorities on top features and functionality to build out next on your product roadmap. This alignment in your Scrum team is essential, especially in the initial release of your MVP.
An impact analysis can be especially important if you’re wanting to understand the effects or consequences of implementing and updating specific features and other product initiatives on key performance indicators like user engagement, conversion rates, user retention, and more.
2. Set a Roll-Out Strategy
After getting alignment on what MVP will be, part of solidifying company alignment is communicating your roll-out strategy. Defining MVP naturally means there are certain features that just can’t fit into phase one. Illustrating the order in which releases are planned will ease the unique concerns of each team, and justify why MVP contains the features that it does.
Some exercises that help determine roll-out strategy include story mapping and roadmapping.
Story mapping is a great tool to create a visual representation of a user’s journey through your product to identify their needs and goals. Once you’ve gained insight into what they require for an excellent product experience, then you can prioritize features appropriately and identify product opportunities. When you create a story map, you’re essentially
Similar to story mapping, roadmapping is a powerful tool for SaaS companies when setting a roll-out strategy because it enables teams to visualize the product development process and align goals by identifying key milestones, dependencies, and potential roadblocks. It’s a great way to facilitate communication between teams, stakeholders, and customers for a smooth MVP launch.
3. Set OKRs
As we mentioned, OKRs are the north star to inform whether or not the product is on track for success. If the company is not consistently meeting some benchmark, it becomes easier to identify areas of improvement, and swiftly course-correct them. When setting your OKRs for a launch, it’s okay to use a best guess and add more color later. For example, if it’s unclear how much exact revenue will be received in monthly subscriptions in the first quarter, set a conservative, vague baseline that is in the right ballpark. A 20% increase month to month is more insightful than limiting growth to a dollar amount.
4. Establish a Method To Track Metrics
All of the hard work put into feature validation and planning won’t count if no one is tracking the product launch. Software like Firebase, Google Analytics, and Flurry are all examples of tools that can help keep a finger on the pulse of product performance. The software of choice depends a lot on the tech stack and product goals. For example, setting OKRs is crucial to dictate whether or not the launch was successful, and will help inform which metrics, or KPIs, need to be tracked, and how to go about doing it.
Key metrics B2B SaaS companies should consider tracking for their product launch is the performance of page load speed and bounce rate by browser. Other metrics like user engagement, churn, retention, and knowing the number of site crashes is important to consider for areas of improvement and optimization.
5. Create an Agile Customer Feedback Loop
Customer feedback should be integrated early and often in feature validation. With a set of MVP features defined and validated at this point, it should be assumed they may change or look different someday. Just because the product has launched doesn’t mean feedback isn’t needed anymore. In fact, once it’s live, the door is opened up to so many more types of users to provide insight. There is invaluable data to collect when users see the product for the first time. Some ways to integrate active, continuous feedback into your product lifecycle are:
- User surveys in email or the product
- Live chat in the platform
- User interviews with incentives
- Moderated or unmoderated user testing
- User session recording analysis
- Live events to thank users
- Focus groups targeting your demographic
Combining the above methods with your quantitative analytics will provide clarity on the why behind data trends you’re seeing and inform how to improve your KPIs through product enhancements. After collecting the feedback, the Product Owner or Product Manager can work with the UX designer to present new designs to stakeholders, or with the development team to fix any bugs or more immediate changes needed. All methods should follow their agile development cycle and be worked methodically.
Related Content: How to Implement an Agile Customer Feedback Loop
6. Sign-off on QA
Testing can be one of the most important, but tedious exercises before launch day. One way to make this process more fun and collaborative for the team is to organize ‘bug bashing days’. Order pizzas, draw a scoreboard, and get the QA team together to rally around finding bugs and testing. This group can consist of company-wide teammates, but it’s important to have a diverse set of devices. Give the development team time to implement these fixes by doing this at least two weeks before the targeted launch day.
Leading up to a product launch, a Product Owner or Product Manager can also set up an internal group to support user acceptance testing (UAT). It’s important to bring in fresh eyes to thoroughly test key product functionality from end to end to identify bugs as well as usability gaps before customers are introduced to the product release. While this can be done in the weeks leading up to a release to ensure testing of the full release experience, product teams may always want to conduct UAT incrementally on internal releases earlier on to avoid a large volume of bugs late in the project timeline.
7. Sync on a Marketing Plan
Launch day is an exciting time up, with opportunities to build suspense months in advance. The way the launch is positioned can help bolster the performance and reach tenfold. This is often the time to get high-profile headlines in publications like newspapers, magazines, and websites that reach the target demographic of the product. Use this as leverage to get the attention of journalists and contacts in and out of your team’s networks.
Other marketing initiatives can involve loading up scheduled tweets, posts, and emails announcing the product release. It’s important to work closely with the marketing team to communicate important dates and make sure the product rides the wave of attention generated during that first launch week.
8. Get App-Store Approved
If you are launching a digital application, it’s important to budget enough time for the approval process that can take. For example, the Apple App Store and Android Play Store have very specific requirements and usually will send applications back at least once for edits. It’s good practice to submit your app at least 3-4 weeks in advance of your launch day, so you can sit back and just hit publish when you’re ready, rather than bite your nails hoping it aligns with all of the other initiatives you set up the day of.
9. Launch Day!
Finally, when the big day arrives, all of the hard work pays off. The team will be full of excitement and high fives, anxiously watching the sign-ups roll in. If you set up a service like Google Analytics, it’s helpful to put your dashboard on a large screen and track conversions. While it can be fun to absorb the energy of the product hitting the market, there are bugs or fixes that require the dev team’s attention. Watching your analytics for crashes or things going wrong is a sure way to catch things before you hear complaints from clients. Be sure all hands are on deck to deploy hotfixes, call clients, or other unforeseen circumstances.
10. Track, Listen, and Iterate
A successful product launch is just step one to a full product lifecycle. Employing agile methods will ensure your product is always listening to clients, integrating feedback, and delivering the best experience. The tactics you set up for launch can be repurposed and carried through into your weekly processes, and the next exciting releases as your product grows!
Related Content: A Product Leader’s Guide to Effective Product Strategy
Developing an effective product strategy is crucial for any product launch to be successful. It involves defining your product vision, understanding your target audience, and utilizing tools like roadmapping to prioritize your product features. At Scenic West, we specialize in creating product strategies for SaaS companies like Brandzooka and native apps like AmiGO, helping them launch new product versions on time and prepare for scalability.
We understand that navigating the product launch process can be overwhelming, and that's where we come in. Our team seamlessly blends with yours to develop a comprehensive product strategy, design an intuitive and user-friendly interface, and provide ongoing support to ensure your product's success. We work in short iterations to ensure that the product strategy is always aligned with your long-term business goals and that your product stands out in a crowded market.
We can give teams the confidence they need to create a product that meets users’ needs and exceeds your expectations. Take a look at our product strategy service to learn how we can partner with your team to conduct competitor and market research, coaching, or product validation.