The Product Manager’s Launch Checklist
January 10, 2019

The Product Manager’s Launch Checklist

by Brian de Haaff

The countdown to a major product launch. There is always anticipation. Excitement, maybe even a little anxiety. It can be a bit of all three if you are a product manager. You need to get the team and all the details in order. And the coordinated launch needs to happen in five, four, three…

You need a plan for how the work will get done — you need a product launch checklist.

Of course, product launches are complicated and successful ones depend on many cross-functional teams working well together. As a product manager, you need to capture and track every piece of work — across all teams — that needs to be done before launch day.

This is where your launch checklist comes in, usually as part of your release plan. Think of the launch checklist as encompassing everything outside of the product plan and product development. These are the specific activities needed from teams across the organization — not just the product team — for a successful launch.

Of course, when you are laser-focused on delivering new features, it can be easy to forget about all the other areas of the business that will be impacted. This is where a launch checklist will help. The value that customers receive increases when you put the customer at the center of everything. This might seem obvious, but for product managers this means looking up from your own work and seeing how other teams will be communicating and supporting those new features.

You need to scope and lay out the details and get everyone in the organization thinking about that new customer value in a holistic way.

After all, the new product or functionality you are launching is not just the bits of technology — it is the complete experience that customers have as part of using it. At Aha! we call this the Complete Product Experience (CPE). The CPE includes all of the touchpoints that a customer has with your product, from marketing to support.

To get you started, we put together the essentials of a launch checklist. The following will give you a good start — but you should customize your own checklist to reflect what is unique about your company, product, and customer.

To ensure you cover off on all the areas and groups that need to be included, we grouped the launch activities by five key components of the CPE:

How customers learn about and evaluate your product:

  • Customer research

  • Positioning and messaging

  • Launch announcement (blog post, emails, etc.)

  • New creative assets (ads, landing pages, logos, sales collateral, etc.)

  • Website updates

  • Media outreach

  • Social media (paid and organic)

How prospective customers receive information needed to make a purchase decision:

  • Training

  • Internal FAQs

  • Customer acquisition strategy

  • Sales collateral (sales deck, one-sheets, etc.)

  • Partner and affiliate updates

Supporting systems
Internal systems that make a big impact on the customer — such as billing, provisioning, and analytics:

  • Financial metrics and goals

  • Billing software updates

  • Internal monitoring or analytics software

Teams and tools that help the customer achieve something meaningful:

  • Training

  • Internal documentation

  • Customer-facing support articles

  • How-to videos

  • Feedback (support tickets, review sites, ideas portals)

Rules for how the company does business and the customer purchases:

  • Pricing

  • Terms of service

  • Privacy

Product launches require you to go boldly — with a cross-functional plan that coordinates everyone involved for success.

Once you define what works for you and your team, you can create a launch checklist template — so you can refer back to it for every launch and build a repeatable process. You can also use the checklist yourself as an internal communication plan if needed. Think of the groups on the list as dependencies — are these groups and areas affected by what you have planned? As you make updates to the product, keep cross-functional teams informed of upcoming activities, key dates, and major changes that could impact their work.

With a repeatable process in place, you might find your launch-day anxiety replaced with excitement. And that is how you should feel before a major launch. After all, you are building something new. What could be more exciting than that?

What would you add to a product launch checklist?

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Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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