You may be considered an expert product manager. You know your job well and have successfully launched dozens of products. You know what you’re doing and know how to get the job done. Do you really need a product launch checklist?
Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, explains that mistakes will be made when professionals don’t consult checklists.
Even if you have been extensively involved in product launch planning, a checklist ensures that no task is overlooked. As your job description changes and you are given more responsibility, this tool can help you create a repeatable product launch process and reduce the probability of error. Learn what to include within your new product launch checklist.
Benefits of using a product launch checklist
Initially, a new product launch checklist may seem like just one more burden to be piled on top of all your other responsibilities. But take a look at the benefits it can provide for you and people across different teams. A product launch checklist can:
- Help you see both the big picture and the details of a product launch.
- Help you prepare for any situation, even possible mistakes.
- Make your plan available to your cross-functional product team to keep all team members on the same page and on track.
- Break your end goal into manageable tasks and establish dependencies to delegate work more easily.
7 basic steps of the product launch process
Although there are many moving parts and tasks involved with launching a new product, the process boils down to these few steps:
- Define and research your audience to understand how to build the product they need and how to best pitch the product.
- Design and build the product.
- Ensure that you have the manufacturing, production, or delivery processes in place to meet demand for your product or service.
- Plan your go-to-market strategy, including a positioning statement.
- Create promotional materials and identify PR opportunities.
- Prepare your sales and support teams.
- Launch the product.
All of these phases should be addressed in your product launch checklist, including all of the necessary activities among cross-functional teams and departments.
Not sure where to begin with product positioning? Take a look at our product positioning templates and additional tools for help.
What should a new product launch plan include?
Releasing a new product can be exciting and stressful. A successful product launch can bring in the revenue you need to hire more people and to develop new products. A disastrous product launch can put you out of business.
To satisfy customers, sell the product, and grow your business, you need to follow a successful product rollout plan.
The following example can give you a good idea of the elements that you should incorporate into your product launch checklist—but keep in mind that this is not a definitive list and should be customized based on your product and your type of business.
Product design and features
- Define the features that differentiate your products from the competition.
- Make sure that the engineering team has built the product as defined and that the product meets all design requirements, including the UX/UI design.
- Make sure new features and functions have been tested and deployed into production.
- Make sure you have all of the required regulatory certifications and approvals.
- Ensure that product packaging has the correct colors and branding for your product and company, including product photos or illustrations, logos, and fonts.
If you work in tech, create an agile release plan to ensure that important features come out on schedule.
- Ensure that manufacturing plans and processes are in place.
- Ensure production workers have been trained.
- Make sure you have enough supply to meet demand.
- Ensure that your distribution channels are open.
- Select a launch date that can feasibly be met to launch a quality product.
- Determine your branding, including fonts, colors, logos, and slogans that will give your product a voice.
- Decide how the product will be announced.
- Determine where the product will be marketed—on social media, blogs, TV and radio advertising, and so on.
- Develop promotional materials and sales materials.
- Ensure that packaging has been designed, approved, and ordered.
- Make sure the website is designed or updated and ready to accept customer orders.
Sales and support teams
- Ensure that sales reps have received the proper training to talk with customers about features and demo products as necessary.
- Provide sales team with updated sales collateral and update existing materials to include new features and functionality.
- Make sure the support team understands how new features work so they can help customers on the phone or in online chats.
- Provide customer success team with the necessary technical materials such as release notes, technical data sheets, and FAQs to more effectively help customers.
See why product training is critical for your sales and support teams.
- Ensure that user documentation, reference guides, installation, and maintenance manuals have been completed and reviewed.
- If you are selling your product in foreign markets, make sure applicable translated documentation materials are available.
- Include Quick Start guides where applicable.
- Ensure that training manuals, online education courses, and stand-up training classes are ready for customers who need training to use the product.
- Meet to discuss went well and what went wrong and determine how the process might go more smoothly next time.
- Revise processes as needed and begin planning the next version of the product.
- Identify tasks to be completed by various teams, such as engineering, testing, marketing, sales, production, and so on.
- Make sure all departments understand their roles and that they have enough resources to complete their tasks.
Pro tip for creating your new product checklist
When you have identified what works well, save it. Create a template for your product launch checklist. If you make them easily accessible from the cloud, everyone can follow your set standards. Each time your company decides to launch a new service or release new software features, you can pull up this documentation, or even create a new project within your project management software, to consistently cover all the tasks that lead to success.
Every product release is different, and you may find that you need to revise your checklist to reflect specific needs from release to release—but a template will give you a good start.
As part of your product rollout plan, you might want to create other documentation in addition to your checklist to make sure all team members are aware of the plan and its progress. Visuals, such as Gantt charts, Kanban boards, or dashboards, can keep your team more engaged than text-heavy documents. It will be easier for them to quickly scan and digest a large amount of data and assess what tasks still need to be completed.
With a new product launch checklist in hand, you’ll be able to be prepared, make customers excited about your new offerings, and grow your business.
Try one of the templates above to get your processes in order, or learn more about product positioning before you launch.