A Product Manager’s Worst Nightmare

Imagine that the product you’ve been working on for months or years implodes on its first day of life—product management’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, this story happens too often in the software world. A failed launch is that terrible situation in which your product starts breaking or misbehaving as soon as it is launched into production. You and your team have spent the past few months planning and executing on the requirements, but the day you launch to production, something goes wrong. Users can’t access the software. Errors appear all over the place. The site is non-responsive. And this is all happening while your marketing team is working at full steam letting the world know about your grand new product release. It is product management’s worst nightmare. The good news: With strategy, planning, hard work and a bit of good luck, you can avoid these failed situations. Agile Development Can Reduce Risk Agile provides a framework for minimizing risk by implementing iterations that produce working software. It is not a silver bullet, but it can help a lot. It provides us with a framework for continuous improvement, one sprint at a time. Each iteration is self-contained, meaning that it includes design, development and testing. Therefore, the code on every single iteration is tested to ensure it meets the desired levels of quality. As part of the testing strategy, the QA team should develop unit tests, perform regression testing and build a comprehensive automated framework to validate all the use cases defined by product management. There will always be some manual testing on every iteration, but the better the automated coverage, the better the chances of success. Now, making sure the development team implements the right delivery processes is not the responsibility of the product team. It is the responsibility of the delivery team, and their engineering leaders, to make sure that their execution process yields good results. But in many companies, especially at small startups, these processes are often not in place. Since the product launch is your responsibility, do some investigation to ensure all the right processes are in place. If they are not, then it is okay to start conversations with development leaders and begin shepherding the creation of those processes. Otherwise, your chances of success will be greatly diminished. To learn more about how to avoid product launch failure, read the full article by Daniel Elizalde in the latest edition of Pragmatic Marketer.

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