How do you launch a product? – Part two

In part one, I talked about the questions I ask when tackling a new product. Based on the answers to those questions, I’ll outline a path that includes some or all of these tasks:

  • Write initial concept presentation.
  • Work with designers to get concept art. A few good mocks from very talented designers can make selling much easier.
  • Gut check with engineering on overall feasibility.
  • Conduct competitive analysis.
  • Conduct market research (primary and secondary).
  • Sell concept to senior management and other teams.
  • Flesh out product requirements.
  • Get design and engineering resources committed.
  • Build user interface and visual design.
  • Work with engineers on architecture.
  • Build and test prototype.
  • Build the product.
  • Write user and technical documentation.
  • QA the product and fix the showstoppers.
  • Release for internal testing and fix major bugs.
  • Release for external beta testing and fix bugs that affect functionality. Seed product to key influencers.
  • Measure usage and make necessary changes.
  • Release the product.
  • Market the product to wider audience.
  • Measure usage and make necessary changes.

Many of these things happen concurrently. Often, all these things need to happen in less than 2 months. Sometimes, only a few of these steps are needed (or possible). At a startup, I might not have $50,000-$80,000 to conduct focus groups. It’s faster for me to get an early version out to the public and get feedback from real users.

At any time, market conditions might change or my competitor might come out with something new which needs to be figured into my plans.

Designing and launching a new product is much like putting together a puzzle — a puzzle where you start with a fuzzy picture on the box and whose pieces keep changing shape as you work on it. That’s what makes it fun.

Puzzle pieces

You can try this puzzle. I promise these puzzle pieces won’t change on you. Check out the original image if you need to peek at the box.


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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