Product launch checklist
A few months ago, I was talking with a client about things they should consider before launching a new product we, Readify, were helping them to build. I put a list together and walked them through it.
I thought I’d document the checklist here for future reference. This by no means is an exhaustive list of everything you need to consider; but rather a list of things I’ve seen commonly overlooked. Then again, there is a lot in here. Just cherrypick what’s applicable to your particular case.
I am assuming you already know how to deliver quality software. With that out of the way, here’s the list.
- Before doing anything else, identify and validate the problem you’re working on. Design Thinking is your friend here.
- Perform user/usability testing, as you start creating prototypes and develop features. I’ve had good experience with User Testing. A few things to consider for usability testing:
- Who to test the product with?
- Developing personas for usability testing (and early adopters)
- How and where do you find users?
- Prepare the usability scripts and scenarios
- Arrange and run interviews
- What to feed back into the roadmap and what to discount
- Do you need confidentiality agreement for external user testing?
- Use a sound product market fit process and strategy. I am a big fan of Lean Startup.
- Perform a competitor analysis to see what others are doing.
- Are you doing soft launch or big bang release? Do soft launch whenever possible.
- Create and maintain a product roadmap. Refine the roadmap based on market analysis as well as the feedback from usability testing and early adopters.
- Do you publish your roadmap? How far into the future? Don’t commit to long term roadmap. Your roadmap will change by the time you get there.
- How do you gather feedback from your users? How do you prioritise their feedback along new feature development?
- What needs to be in place before you release the product to early adopters? What needs to be in place before you open the flood gates?
- Find a name! Sounds kinda funny; but a lot of people fail at this. A few considerations:
- Brainstorm around possible names
- Google them to make sure they don’t point to existing products and services or to bad press
- Make sure the name you pick is google-able; e.g. don’t name your product
- Make sure there are some domain available for that name
- Buy your domain and consider buying a few other top layer domain names for your domain; e.g.
- Define a tagline for the product.
- Define a pricing structure and strategy. Test your pricing structure with your early adopters. Do you provide a different pricing for your early adopters?
- Think about marketing. Do you need a landing page? Who’s going to write the copy? Who’s going to design the landing page? Who’s going to do SEO?
- If you don’t have this already, design a clear brand identity; i.e. colour palettes, icons, style guides etc.
- Do you want to have a launch “party”? Do you know your launch date?
- Consider a launch plan. Are there magazines, blogs or publications you want to target to promote the launch of your product? Have your articles, tweets etc ready in advance.
- Do you need a social media presence?
- What’s the social media persona you want to embody?
- Who’s going to be the social media person?
- Who’s going to write tweets and updates?
- Do you need an approval process for new updates and responses?
- Is the twitter handle available?
- How are you going to sell your product? Where can your customers find your product?
- Can you accept payment from your customers?
- Who’s going to provide application support for end users and how? Phone support, in-person, in-app chat, Facebook, Twitter etc?
- Is your product used globally? If yes, (how) will you provide round the clock support?
- How do you train your support staff with upcoming features?
- How will you communicate changes and new features to your users?
- Do you need to develop help, documentation or FAQ for the product? Try to aim for a product that’s so user friendly it doesn’t need a lot of support or training.
- Do you have a CRM? Does it fit this product?
- Create privacy agreements for your users
- Create license agreement for your users/customers
- What kind of data would you be storing - PII, PCI, PHI?
- What sort of regulations do you need to comply with - APP, GDPR, IRAP, NEHTA etc?
- Do you have data sovereignty requirements?
- Consider creating a responsible disclosure policy/guideline. Checkout Tesla’s for inspiration.
- Consider bug bounty programs; e.g. bugcrowd.
- Create a data retention and destruction policy.
- Create a data breach response policy.
- Consider creating a BCP and DR policy.
- Do you have a security monitoring and alerting system in place?
- Consider performing penetration testing.
- Do some research and find reputable pen testers.
- Do you want to do blackbox, greybox or whitebox testing?
- How often would you redo the test?
- Does the vendor allow free/discounted retest if they find vulnerabilities? If yes, what’s the grace period?
- Do you have a logging, monitoring and alerting system?
- Do you have a sound backup strategy in place? Do you test your backups on a regular basis?
- Do your BCP and DR policy cover your technical recovery? What’s your mean time to recovery?
- Have you done load and stress testing on your app? Can you monitor your application performance proactively?
- Do you have health dashboards setup?
- Can you do zero downtime release? This is much more critical if you are working on a globally used product with no “after hours”.
- What’s your SLA? Do you have maintenance window? Is it communicated in the license agreement?
What have I missed? What do you take into account for a product launch?