A product launch is never a small undertaking—whether it’s creating a first-to-market consumer electronics product or adding a feature in a new software release. There are always many parts to manage, cross-functional teams and stakeholders to keep happy, and deadlines. Yes, there are always many, many deadlines. Any product manager worth their salt will quickly tell you getting a any product to market is basically a minor miracle.
That’s why a robust product launch checklist is essential. (And note that a checklist differs from a product roadmap or product launch plan, though they’re often closely related.)
Product managers are the leaders when it comes to releasing new products and updates. They’re the only people on a project with complete visibility into every aspect of the product lifecycle, whereas other stakeholders across various departments will be siloed from one another. Product managers know what each department must accomplish—on time—to ensure a smooth launch.
Creating a product release checklist lets product managers capture insights, and create contingency plans for likely obstacles and challenges. The checklist can become very granular and prescriptive, as it’s shaped to the unique contours of a product and organization.
In short, every product launch and checklist can differ greatly.
Launching a product? Get a head start by downloading our free product launch checklist template.
Product checklists matter because they catalog phases, sprints, necessary assets, and delivered assets into one place. Little is left to chance—many scenarios are prepared for, making it easy for teams to anticipate the unexpected.
Because they cast a wide net for all possible considerations, checklists are neutral when it comes to workflows and methodology. You don’t need a checklist-specific application or software; a more malleable, multi-purpose tool will work for creating a list. What’s important is that every potential outcome be captured—even for scenarios you find unlikely. You may not end up acting on every item on your list, but by accounting for it, you have a tangible playbook when the unexpected strikes. (And it always strikes.)
Ideally, your checklist should be custom-built for a specific launch. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to these things; every product and its launch will differ widely. Working with a customizable template can save precious time—and money and energy—in the process. It can also promote better working relationships by establishing a shared north star for teams.
The collection of items to include depends on the complexity of your process and what’s applicable to your situation. When getting started, it is a good idea to brainstorm with other members of your team, deciding what the product—or even market conditions—require for a successful launch.
Here are a few considerations…
Historical insights: Chances are, many of your colleagues will recall (in sometimes painful detail) what has worked and what has not worked in recent launches. Their experience is critical, so gather what tips you can and include some of their advice—especially when it comes to how a launch went sideways. This is how you build a contingency plan if the same issue arises. (And, when the product does launch, collect post-launch feedback in a survey form while the launch is still fresh in many people’s minds.)
Itemized to-do lists for every department: The departments involved in a product release may differ from product to product, so include to-dos for the participating areas of the organization. A sample of to-do lists for departments could look like the following:
Product Development – QA, testing, UX/UI, technical and customer support documentation and training, positioning and messaging brief, FAQs, packaging, upselling for support teams
Sales – Training, communications and sales collateral (such as brochures and one-sheets), demos, value propositions, customer/buyer personas
Marketing – Campaigns and creative briefs for each, target audience research, calendars for marketing channels (website/landing page, social media, paid ads, etc.), content (blog posts, email, webinars, etc.), content updates
Legal – Licensing agreement, new customer contracts (both service providers and end users), terms and conditions, etc.
Systems – Manufacturing, logistics, fulfillment requirements, IT
Organization-wide communications and learning and development to ensure teams and individuals are prepared for launch—including internal emails and information sessions and eLearning training
Goals and analytics for measuring success of new release or product update
Plans for gathering internal and external feedback from stakeholders and customers
Preparing for a successful product launch doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or completely built-from-scratch process. You just need the right tool—one that’s flexible enough to invite in many users, but with secure permissioning.
Airtable has you covered. Our connected apps platform can serve as a highly agile and intuitive product launch checklist template that everybody can use, not just product managers. In fact, we built a template to help you get started. This template will simplify your workload and workflow by:
Integrating departments and stakeholders into one interactive checklist with views tailored to the user’s needs and responsibilities
Gathering critical insights directly and incorporating them in real-time
Making sure success is not only measurable but more visible than ever
Not just that, but by creating and populating your checklist template, you bring the launch checklist, product roadmap or plan, campaigns, and more into the same database—eliminating redundancy and optimizing cross-functional workflows. You can import and export data and to-dos as needed, streamlining mundane tasks and saving you time.
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