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When to Launch? That’s the Question

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  • Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success.  Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

when to launch

 

The other day I received a message from a colleague:

“One question we’re asking ourselves is the issue of continuously releasing individual features with associated Go-to-Market launches versus releasing features and waiting to do a singular quarterly GTM for all at the same time. What are the considerations and questions we should be asking ourselves to understand if one strategy or the other is more appropriate?”

And it reminded me of my mother-in-law (bear with me). She put her house on the market in November a few years ago. The house didn’t sell until June.

Why?

Because no one shops for houses in the wintertime. Even though she was anxious to sell, the market wasn’t ready to buy.

Just because the code is ready to distribute doesn’t mean the market is ready to receive it. Keep your dev team on a repeatable cycle—every 2-4 weeks. Buffer up all their new functionality and then deliver in a launch when the market is ready.

Consider the case of employee training. Every policy change means a change to the employee onboarding presentation, which results in new training requirements for instructors. New training requirements also disrupt the client’s production environment. Both Instructors and employees ask for refreshers to show what’s new since they took the class. So a common approach is to fix defects and typos in the content regularly without big fanfare, but only do larger scale updates a few times a year.

Whether training or technology, new “features” need to roll-out in line with market conditions.

So, as with many things, you need to ask your customers. Some buyers (or personas) want proven methods. Some want the latest methods. I upgrade my software immediately with each new update because I love the new functionality. My wife updates software reluctantly because she wants stability. Are your personas early adopters or reluctant adapters?

When should you launch new functionality? When the launch aligns best with the impact on your personas.

Author

  • Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success.  Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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