Money and time. These are just two elements required to pull off a successful product launch. When you get it right, it is worth the investment of both. 

In most companies, but technology companies especially, this puts a lot of pressure on product teams responsible for bringing new products to market. According to a McKinsey survey, more than 25 percent of total revenue and profits across varying industries comes from the launch of new products. And when launches fizzle, it puts the team behind -- behind competitors and behind on getting to the next big thing. 

So, how do you avoid wasting time and money? How do you anticipate what will go right and what may go haywire? We work with a lot of product teams who are using Aha! to create strategy-driven product roadmaps. In our conversations with those teams, we often hear that these types of questions are asked only at the end, as part of a launch post-mortem. 

But you really should consider doing so from the start -- while you are still in the early planning stages. This means establishing goals for the launch upfront before any actual work begins. Your goals might be something like a specific revenue increase, number of new customers earned, or to enter a new market. Make sure that these launch goals align back to your overall business goals.

The next step is to obviously launch the product... and then what? You need to measure how well you accomplished your goals. Here is how:

Set the objectives

You know your goals for the launch -- now you need to translate those into trackable metrics. These are your key performance metrics (KPIs). If your goal is to enter a new market, you need to identify how you will measure that. This could be the percentage of new customers earned in that specific market post-launch. 

Track progress

Tracking the progress of the objectives you set will help you identify any performance gaps. Let's say you wanted 50 percent of new customers to come from that new market, but you have only reached 20 percent. You can consider that goal to be at risk. Even if the progress is slow, that can help you adjust your strategy for the next launch. 

Avoid data overload

One of the biggest traps product teams fall into is data overload, reporting on every single metric. The problem with this is that it can paralyze you -- showing a long list of numbers rather than a few key insights. Get around this by focusing your reports on the goals you established. This will give you and the team the insights needed to take action.

Talk to customers

Data is important. But you also need to talk to the real people who are using the product. When you were preparing for the launch, you probably made some assumptions about your customers and how they would use your product. Now you need to confirm if your assumptions were right. Ask customers: How often are you using the product? Is it giving you what you need? What could be better? 

Report back

The last step is to pull all of the above together. Combine your data with your customer insights to create a comprehensive, visual report. This should include the status of each goal (some progress, on track, at risk) as well as customer feedback. Present your findings to the team so you can discuss those learnings and determine where to take the product next.

Ideally, you will be on track to reaching most (if not all) of your goals. But if the results are not so positive, you can use that information to inform your next launch. Consider what you need to do differently so you can set down a path with no wasted money or time.

Published on: Aug 8, 2019
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