What is a good product launch checklist?
It is a moment all product managers savor. There is nothing quite like the feeling after a successful product launch. It is exhilarating to see all of your hard work come together and know that you were part of bringing forth something new that will benefit others.
But delivering a new product experience that delights customers and brings value to the business is a complex process. There are engineering features to define, marketing campaigns to coordinate, and sales trainings to plan — just to name a few pre-launch activities. And as a product manager, your responsibility is to sit at the intersection to make sure work stays on track and product launches go off without a hitch. You are in a unique position to see what others might miss.
A product launch checklist is designed to support the core product team and broader cross-functional teams as you bring a new customer experience to market. A templated approach lends efficiency and repeatability to your planning process. Checklists hold teams accountable by keeping everyone focused on the work that needs to be done.
Why do product managers need checklists?
Meaningful product releases have an impact across the organization. Product managers who want to deliver on their product vision need to provide clear criteria for launch readiness. This includes everything from design, positioning, and development to campaigns, training, and support. A checklist gives you and your team a way to coordinate and track initiatives and dependencies so everyone can work together to deliver a successful launch.
Though using a checklist may seem obvious, some may not consider it at first. You might think a checklist is overly prescriptive or too rigid. However, not every launch will require every item on the checklist. The goal is to use it as a framework for evaluating what should be considered and what might need to be delivered across the organization.
A product launch checklist is also methodology-agnostic. Even the most agile team can benefit from thinking through what needs to be done across the whole team when coordinating a big release. Creating a product launch checklist that captures and tracks the complete set of go-to-market activities is essential for product managers who care deeply about the overall customer experience.
Building a product launch checklist
Planning and designing a launch checklist starts with reviewing prior launches. What has gone well? Where can you improve collaboration? Is every team clear on expectations? The success of your launch checklist depends on how well you understand what you are delivering and what the team needs.
Below are some common elements of a complete product launch checklist, grouped by the type of work that is required to highlight the cross-functional nature of any meaningful release. While the following list is a good start for any checklist, you should customize it based on your product, company, and customer base. You can also download this free product launch checklist to get started on your own.
Feature definition: Ensure that engineering teams have all the prioritization, sizing, and documentation needed to start building.
UX / UI design: Provide designers with the UX research, wireframes, and specifications needed to start crafting.
Engineering: Build the key features, most likely in a series of sprints.
QA and operations: Test and deploy the new functionality in production.
Launch date: Set a date and time for the launch and communicate to stakeholders.
Pricing and packaging: Approve the pricing for the new product experience. Design and approve how it will be bundled or presented to customers, including upgrades if relevant.
Positioning: Draft a positioning doc or creative brief that covers the key messaging for the launch based on the product vision, the new functionality, and the value it will deliver to end-users.
Communications plan: Decide how the launch will be announced both inside and outside the organization.
Marketing content: Create new messaging for the product’s website, advertising, and campaigns. Map out all launch emails, blog posts, webinars, and landing pages.
Social media: Prepare the launch announcement and campaign content to be posted on social channels.
Media relations: Set up meetings with the media and provide updates on key capabilities that are coming. Leverage customer testimonials if possible.
Analyst briefings: Reach out to industry analysts or other influential personnel if appropriate to brief them on what is new and why it matters.
Infrastructure: Make necessary changes to internal monitoring systems, such as analytics or product administration.
Billing: Update existing billing options and functionality to accommodate the new product experience.
Finance: Update key systems to track financial metrics associated with the new product or upgrades that generate add-on revenue.
Sales and support
Documentation: Complete and approve all product documentation, including release notes, help and troubleshooting guides, FAQs, and technical datasheets.
Sales strategy and training: Conduct training and enablement for sales reps. Create sales collateral and update existing materials to include what is new.
Customer success: Train customer success and service teams on the new product functionality and provide them with necessary technical support materials.
Partners: Update and enable partners and affiliates to help communicate and promote the launch.
Review: Gather the team to discuss what was learned from the launch and how the process could be improved next time.
Follow up: Identify and submit bugs for engineering attention. Survey users for their feedback. Solicit testimonials or success stories from customers if relevant.
There is also one critical phase that is not listed above: Celebrate! Your team should feel an enormous sense of accomplishment after a launch. Share your appreciation for their hard work in delivering a lovable customer experience.
Product launch software
Once you have created a good product launch checklist, it should be saved and reused when relevant. This consistency and transparency will lead to better future launches because everyone knows what needs to be done. Revisit the checklist after each release to evaluate what is working and where there is room to improve. If you want to standardize the way your team brings new products and features to market — from ideation and prioritization through definition and delivery — try Aha! Roadmaps free for 30 days.
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