It takes a lot of work by various teams to ship a product(s). As a product manager you would be pulled many ways, spread across different teams, filling in the gaps and a lot could go wrong. For a first time product manager, working on a launch is chaotic if not managed properly. Chaos is 3X if you’re a product manager working as a project manager (this happens a lot of times in small-medium product startups) and execution is on you.
After leading four product launches and incremental feature releases, here is what I wish I knew about launching products.
- Markets are not purely driven by rational investors and traders, global economy is not purely run on the Law of market equilibrium, and product launches well don’t happen exactly as you planned. All the articles about sprint planning and releases a have major flaw, they don’t account human factor of work i.e estimates can go wrong, your lead programmer falls sick, and your designer wants more time to iterate — always takes these factors deciding on the launch.
- Don’t ask your designer to complete something in an hour if the estimate is for 4 hours. Don’t ask your developers to complete something in a day if the estimate is for 3 days, in short don’t bargain on timelines. Channel your negotiation/bargaining power on feature prioritization or getting buy-ins from various teams.
- Please don’t take “If a person takes 10 hours to do a task, then 2 people should be able to do it in 5 hours” approach. It would take 10 hours for them two to finish the task because there would be discussions and teaching involved.
- Prioritize copy/content, don’t push it for the last minute. It is no fun for a front end developer to edit text before the launch. (This is a crime in the programming world).
- Don’t give user testing to engineers or designers. Sit with the QA(if you have a team) or take help of your colleagues for other teams or do it yourself.
- Test in the real scenarios your users would use your product. The design looked great on the Macbook Pro but the colors were off on windows screen and noticed it after launch. App worked perfect on our iPhone/OnePlus/Pixel/Galaxy S9 but our users had issues on their Xiaomi Note 4/ Oppo/ iPhone 5s. Use data from analytics and test on the devices that your users have — test how the app is loading on WIFI and cellular data.
- Your designers think you’re taking sides with the engineering team and your engineering teams thinks your taking sides with the design team. Your marketing team thinks that you are taking them for granted. It is okay, explain the whys behind every decision you take to minimize conflict and this helps them understand that your taking the users’ side.
- Yet to meet a user who didn’t complete the order and went bought something on the competitor website/app because the border radius is off 1px from the design spec. Focus and spend time on the important parts of UI design and user experience.
- Main function of your product launch is not a press release, it to deliver something valuable to the end user. Don’t chase fancy features which wouldn’t add any value to the user.
- Agile is second most miss-understood concept (first is UX ). Don’t take last minute changes from the marketing/business or any other team and try to fit into the launch timelines and call it agile product development. Agile is not last minute changes and cramming features into one release.
These are something I have learnt from product launches and wish I knew them before. It would have saved me a lot of time & effort. Would love hear from you guys on some lessons you’ve learnt.