How do you launch a product?

When I’m talking to companies, one of the questions I get asked is “how do you launch a product?” There are so many variables that go in to launching products that the real answer is “it depends.”

It depends on a lot of things: the size of the product, the company I’m working for, who I’m working with. One of the most successful products I launched went from whiteboarding with a smart engineer to launch in about 4 weeks. On the other hand, I’ve spent more than a year on a rigorously analyzed, well documented product that never launched because of changes in business priorities.

I start by asking a lot of questions:

  • What are the objectives? Is it about generating revenue for this quarter? Shipping something before Christmas? Responding to a competitor’s product?
  • Who is this intended for? If the target audience is one that I’m not familiar with, I need to add in extra time for primary and secondary research.
  • How much effort is this? If it’s a small effort, I might just go ahead and do it. If it’s an 18 month effort, I’ll look for ways to break it up into smaller phases, releasing and testing along the way.
  • Does this impact existing revenue? If launching this product is going to affect $500 million in revenue, I’ll want to do some 1% testing early on.
  • Is this user facing? If so, I’ll need time for design reviews and possibly usability testing.
  • What other areas of the company does this affect? If the effort spans departments, I need to plan on selling it throughout the company. (Especially if it requires other teams to do work.)
  • Does this require external partnerships? I’ll need to identify partners and work with business development to negotiate the deals.
  • Do I have to capitalize this? If you don’t know what this means, consider yourself lucky. If I have to capitalize a product, much of the process is dictated for me.

In part two, I’ll talk about the next steps.

About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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1 Response to How do you launch a product?

  1. David says:

    Just blew 15 minutes of my weekend on that puzzle. Thanks Rocky

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