Aha! Roadmaps | Best practices for stakeholder alignment: Manage product launches

This best practices article is part five of a series focused on driving stakeholder alignment. In the preceding articles, we looked at how to establish a strategic planning process that everyone in your organization can get behind — by starting with a clear set of goals and initiatives, incorporating customer feedback, prioritizing ideas, and then creating a product roadmap. At each stage, we discussed how to include stakeholders in the planning process so everyone feels heard and invested.

Now, it is time to implement your roadmap and share with customers what has been delivered. Managing product launches requires a different type of stakeholder alignment: one that mobilizes cross-functional teams to bring lovable new customer experiences to life. Start by creating a release timeline so that nontechnical groups such as marketing, sales, and support can plan ahead for what is coming. Then, work closely with each group to understand the scope of work needed to drive thought leadership, excite customers, and ensure the successful adoption of new functionality.

Clear and consistent communication is vital throughout the launch process. Choose from a comprehensive set of tools in Aha! Roadmaps — which includes a release calendar and Gantt charts — to track every date, dependency, and deliverable. You will also want to establish a regular meeting cadence to keep everyone in sync and discuss adjustments as plans change (which they inevitably will). Creating a dashboard to keep leadership and other business stakeholders informed about progress is another good idea.

Finally, remember to take time to celebrate your launch with the team and retrospect on opportunities to refine the process. This builds team spirit as you keep your delivery cadence up — delighting customers and winning in market as you go.

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Step 1: Establish a release timeline

You already built a roadmap to show the timeline for what functionality you will implement and when. It is now time to set release dates and make your roadmap a reality. The way you time releases will vary based on how frequently your company launches new functionality. Some organizations release updates weekly or monthly, whereas others might release quarterly (or even annually).

No matter the time frame, you must clearly capture and communicate release dates to ensure that the rest of the organization — including market, sales, and support — can support the plan:

  • Map out potential dates on a whiteboard using the Timeline diagram whiteboard template.

  • Create releases with target launch dates.

  • Show upcoming releases as milestones on your roadmap.

  • Use a launch calendar view to plot key dates.

Share the timeline with cross-functional stakeholders early in the planning process. This enables you to gather input on the timeline and adjust dates as needed. For example, it might make sense to time a release around an important event (like an industry conference, customer account review meeting, or analyst briefing) to maximize the impact. This also helps other teams prioritize their own work with upcoming launches in mind.

Strategy roadmap with release milestones


Step 2: Kick off launch planning

Start by scoping the work required to support each launch. This goes beyond the new functionality that you will deliver and includes the broader cross-functional effort required to effectively market, sell, and support the new product experience.

Establishing a collaborative planning process from the outset is critical to launch success. It is important to make sure that every member of the launch team feels invested. Host an initial kickoff call to bring everyone together, review the high-level plan, and generate excitement.

  • Create a Meeting agenda and share it ahead of time so the team can come prepared for a meaningful conversation.

  • Provide an overview of the launch — including how it supports your product roadmap, what features will be included, and how you will measure success. (We recommend embedding a live view of your roadmap directly in the meeting note.)

  • Host a Brainstorming session on a whiteboard to think through what it will take to make the launch a success — from marketing opportunities to supporting customer adoption.

  • Establish an ongoing meeting cadence to review plans and progress.

After the meeting, ask each group to capture the work needed to launch with excellence. Use the Product launch plan template as a checklist to think through all aspects of the release and prompt questions about the best approach. You can share documents with anyone — including non-Aha! users. This makes it easy to gather their input and address open questions.

Many organizations find it useful to categorize launches by tier, ranging from major launches to smaller incremental ones. This helps each team quickly identify the activities that need to happen — allocating the right amount of effort based on the overall impact of the launch.

Meeting document with embedded strategy roadmap


Step 3: Create a detailed plan

It goes without saying that bigger launches require more detailed planning. Regardless, it is critical to make sure everyone understands exactly what needs to happen and when to deliver on time. Use the inputs you gathered in the previous step to build a Gantt chart — so you can keep track of all the details in one view.

Note: If cross-functional teams have their own workspaces in your Aha! account, task them with creating their own deliverables on the Gantt chart.

  • Capture the key phases and milestones of your release process.

  • Show the order and duration of deliverables within each phase.

  • Create dependencies between items to highlight critical timing information.

  • Assign to-dos to indicate who is responsible for doing what and when each task is due.

Share your Gantt chart with the team. In your next meeting together, review the details to make sure that it accurately represents the scope of work and that the target launch date is feasible — easily adjusting the timing and scope as needed.

For big launches that involve many teams, create a roll-up release. This enables you to add subreleases for each team and see the full plan in one view.

Releases Gantt chart with phases and dependency lines.


Step 4: Track launch progress

As work gets underway, proactively communicate the status of the launch. With so many moving parts, being transparent about progress and openly discussing challenges is key. From unknown technical issues to evolving customer demands, change is inevitable. What matters is keeping the right people informed and working collaboratively to navigate the unexpected.

  • Meet regularly with the launch team to discuss updates and highlight issues that are impacting progress. Establish a consistent meeting agenda and ask the team to provide updates ahead of time.

  • Use your Gantt chart to track status in real time. It auto-calculates progress from underlying records to get an accurate picture.

  • Monitor completed vs. remaining work on the release burndown chart to quickly assess whether the team will launch on time.

  • Get alerted about delivery risks — including work that is not assigned, started late, is due soon, or has past-due dependencies. This helps you ask the right questions to see where the team needs help.

You will also need to keep executive leadership and other business stakeholders informed about your progress. Create a dashboard that includes key roadmaps, reports, and charts. Add a text panel to summarize how the launch is progressing and schedule your dashboard to be shared via email — so everyone can get the insights they need.

Releases Gantt chart with progress enabled and track changes sidebar open


Step 5: Launch, celebrate, and reflect

As the launch gets closer, make sure you have mapped out what our team at Aha! likes to call a "run-of-show" plan. Capture exactly what will get pushed live and when in a note — from the new functionality to internal communications, knowledge base articles, announcement blogs, and more. This helps everything run smoothly on the day of the launch.

Once the launch is complete, take time to celebrate. It is important to show appreciation for the team's hard work and accomplishments. We also recommend bringing the team together for a post-launch discussion about what went well and what could have been better.

Release retrospective report.

Create release templates in Aha! Roadmaps to standardize your release process and establish a clear framework for how the broader team works together.


Step 6: Analyze the impact

The final step in managing product launches is to share the results. Executive leadership, business stakeholders, and the delivery team will all want to know how their launch impacted customers and the business.

  • Track key product metrics to understand whether you achieved the business outcomes you wanted.

  • Find out what customers think of the new functionality. Join customer calls and use advanced tools such as polls and in-app community feedback to gather qualitative and quantitative insights.

  • Use the product value report to assess the total value of features you delivered.

Choose from a variety of reports in Aha! Roadmaps — include list reports, pivot tables, and charts — to analyze your product data. As you gain insights from each product launch, share your learnings with stakeholders and use them to inform any updates to your product roadmap.

Product value report hero


Suite overview
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