Getting Product Off the Shelf - The Launch Plan

We’re currently supporting a startup client who plans to launch the first GA version of their product in 60 days. While everyone continues to work hard toward a successful release, they lack a comprehensive launch plan, which led to this post about the strategy and tactics of planning a launch.

Maiden launch of Shuttle Atlantis. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Step 1: Set meaningful goals that unify effort across the entire company. Overall sales, new customer acquisition, product usage and other goals enable functional groups to plan specific actions.

Step 2: Determine the launch strategy, then identify the tactics and deliverables. A step-by-step checklist executed without a strategy could lead to wasted time and energy. At a minimum, identify who you’re targeting and why, how and when you will reach them and what you’ll need to be successful. Think of this as the mission statement and the goals as the intent.

Step 3: Nail the tactics. Now is the time to leverage a prioritized launch backlog in support of the goals and strategy. Consider the following backlog ideas listed by category. Note: You may need to decompose some of these big items into smaller items to be prioritized, completed and validated in short iterations.

Public Relations

  • Analyst collateral
  • Analyst briefings
  • Press briefings
  • Press release

Beta Program

  • Recruit beta customers
  • Execute beta program
  • Gather beta customer quotes

Collateral

  • Messaging
  • Datasheet
  • Brochure
  • Online demo video
  • Demo scenarios and scripts
  • White paper
  • FAQs
  • Competitor comparison

Web Marketing

  • Web site
  • Google, Yahoo, Bing ad programs
  • SEO
  • Social media plan and execution

Advertising

  • Print
  • Direct mail
  • Radio/TV
  • VAR/Channel

Customer

  • Existing customer notification/marketing
  • Training for existing customers
  • Update training for new customers
  • Release notes
  • User documentation
  • Administrator documentation

Internal 

  • Sales information sheet
  • Sales training
  • Sales presentation
  • Product pricing
  • Internal FAQs
  • Support training

Events

  • Industry events
  • In-person events
  • Webinars

Channel

  • Channel training
  • VAR demo purchase program
  • SPIF
  • Marketing programs

While this post provides broad guidance to plan a launch, a future post will dive much deeper into a whole product bill of materials.

A Structure for Product Management Knowledge and Skills Acquisition

In the last two Certified Scrum Product Owner courses that I taught, people have asked, “What’s next?” A beautiful question indeed. My answer included a path to Certified Scrum Professional that Carlton Nettleton and I have developed, a series of advanced courses that Applied Frameworks offers, and the Scaled Agile Product Management course that we offer.

Let’s go much deeper in how people in the role of Product Owner and people in the software Product Management profession should think about levels of training and knowledge acquisition. I thank Luke Hohmann for the following structure that he attributes to Meiler Page-Jones.

1.     Innocent. You have not been exposed to a given area of knowledge and are unaware of its existence. In other words, you have absolutely no plans associated with the topic in your cognitive library, your preexisting set of solutions and experiences.

2.     Aware. You have been exposed to an area of knowledge (such as a new technique to organize your product backlog), perhaps by reading an article, and can see its relevance, but have not yet applied or used it. Your cognitive library may have one or two plans regarding the body of knowledge. These plans are rudimentary at best. You are still unable to use it for any useful purpose.

3.     Apprentice. You have had some formal training in the structures, processes, and outcomes associated with a topic, perhaps through a two or three day workshop. You have begun the task of creating and storing plans in your cognitive library. At this stage of learning, structures tend to be viewed as absolute, not to be violated. You can produce simple outcomes for well-defined problems, but require the assistance of more expert individuals to solve ill-defined or new problems.

4.     Practitioner. You are able to accomplish moderately difficult tasks without assistance. Your cognitive library is fairly well developed, but you must still rely on experts to accomplish very complex tasks.

5.     Journeyman. You regularly use the body of knowledge in your work, and begin to question and/or modify structures to suit your needs. At this stage your cognitive library is reasonably large. You begin to apply existing plans in novel ways. Individuals at levels 2 through 4 seek your guidance.

6.     Master. You have mastered the body of knowledge, and can effectively apply it in many different situations. Your cognitive library is quite well developed. It contains plans enabling you to solve well-known problems quickly and easily. You are adept at applying plans in novel ways. You can easily adapt or invent appropriate structures to aid in problem solving.

7.     Expert. With substantial expertise, you move beyond the master stage by extending the collective body of knowledge through lectures, writing articles and/or books, or applying the knowledge in new problem domains. The difference between a master and an expert is subtle, but important. Both possess extensive cognitive libraries, but the expert works at externalizing their library in a form suitable for use by others.

All of us at Applied Frameworks focus on how to assist you on your journey to the Expert level of product management in each of the frameworks you need to succeed and excel at your job.

We will help you assess where you are now and your path to the next level.  We absolutely value your input and specific feedback as we work through our minimum viable product to create a service that delivers value.

Quick Video for Keep Austin Agile 2015

I uploaded my first video to YouTube about a fundamental coaching model. I made the video to support my submission for the 2015 Keep Austin Agile conference. The organizers wisely required a video this year as part of the submission process - A great idea to get a sense of who they intend to invite to speak at their event.

This 9 minute video provides a foundation for new Agile coaches and Scrum Masters to sort through everything going on in their environment to get to action and reflection.

Thanks to my friend and fellow coach Shawn Lowe for helping me shoot this informal video. As always I would appreciate your feedback.

What We Believe About Agile

Happy New Year! We hope that 2015 started great for you. To kick off what we expect to be more frequent blogging, this post describes what we believe about Agile. I'm motivated to write this for two reasons - to explicitly state our point of view and to prepare for a Certified ScrumMaster class that I'm teaching this week.

Agile is four values and twelve principles found on the Agile Manifesto home page and on the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto page. That's it. We believe that if an organization of people works together in a way that is aligned to these values and principles that the organization is Agile. We approach all of our teaching, coaching and other consulting from this point of view.

Agile isn't daily meetings, user stories, continuous integration, product owners or other related activities, artifacts or roles. Agile is a mindset of collaboration to create great products incrementally and iteratively, frequently adjusting based on changes in the world around us and what we learn.

A group of people could work in a way that is Agile with a model of interaction that they invent. In other words, you don't need Scrum, Extreme Programming, SAFe, Kanban or any other framework to be Agile. However, frameworks certainly help people execute efficiently and consistently.

We created Applied Frameworks because we believe in fulfilling the needs of people and organizations to be more effective and happier in their work to produce great products that meet and exceed their customers' needs. We believe that an Agile mindset enables us to accomplish WHY we exist.

This year we want to help you and your organization find your most effective and happiest state of execution and hope this is your best year yet. Let's go!