Product launches require a lot of hard work, planning, and execution when done well. In order to put together a top-notch program and continue to improve on that program, you should always conduct a retrospective. This will help you and your team identify what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve your approach for your next launch. Let’s walk through everything you need to know to conduct your next product launch retrospective.
How to Set Up Your Retrospective
You can create a product launch retrospective yourself in whatever format works for you, or you can use our free product launch retrospective document. You want to format this in such a way that allows you to analyze what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and what you’re going to do to improve your strategy the next time around. To get started, you want to outline your launch basics - what were you launching, who was involved, what were your goals. As you go through your retrospective, take a look at the positives as well as the negatives. If you only focus on one or the other, you won’t get the full picture, and you won’t be able to improve for your next project.
Identify Your Key Stakeholders
Product launches are never done silently and require a large support team for success. Beyond the product management and product marketing teams, many more stakeholders are involved in every launch. These stakeholders may come from sales, marketing, or overhead teams. It’s important to consider all stakeholders when planning, as well as when reflecting on your launch.
The key stakeholders involved in your retrospective should be the same as the key stakeholders involved with the launch activities. You should have a representative from each team or department that played a role in the project at hand. You want to ensure that the thoughts and feedback of your launch aren’t limited to just product marketing or product management. You want everyone’s insight to the success, and struggles, of your launch. Here’s a list of people that you may want to include:
- Program Manager
- Product Manager
- Product or Engineering Lead
- Product Marketing Manager
- Director of Revenue
- Sales Operations Representative
- Customer Service/Support Representative
- Inside Sales Representative
- Account Management Representative
- Marketing Operations Representative
- Content Marketing Representative
- Training/Talent Representative
- Business Development Representative
- Accounting or Finance Representative
Dive Into What Worked and What Didn’t
When diving into your feedback section, you want to make sure that you’re not only sharing your highlight reel. The key here is to be completely honest with your feedback. It’s great to celebrate what went well in a launch, but it also may be easy to try and overlook what didn’t go as originally planned. However, if you want to ensure that you cover all of your bases and can avoid mistakes in the future, honesty is critical. You can dive deeper into this analysis by looking at what you should do less of next time, as well as what should you try next time.
Reflect on Your Program Plan
The next step is taking a look at your program planning. There are six key questions you should be asking:
- Were the requirements and expectations clear?
- Was the schedule reasonable?
- Were deadlines hit?
- Did supporting teams know what they needed to know (with enough time to properly execute their tasks)?
- Were there any surprises?
- Where and what were the bottlenecks?
This section is important because it allows you to analyze not only how prepared your team was, but how well you prepared all key stakeholders involved. It’s more than just creating clear requirements; it’s about open communication, prioritization, and preparing your team to handle problems that may arise during your launch.
Analyze How Your Launch Performed
You and your team have now reflected on preparation and execution, now it’s time to reflect on the impact. Did you see the results that you were hoping for?
You want to know how your product messaging performed, what your market has been saying, how sales are performing, and if there have been any drawbacks such as support issues or unseen costs. You want to ask yourself:
- Does the messaging reflect the value of the product?
- Is it selling as expected?
And, you want to record initial customer feedback as well as the issues that may have come up since launch. Once you’ve analyzed product feedback, you’re ready to tie your retrospective together with key takeaways from your product launch.
Now that you have analyzed every piece of your launch, break down your final takeaways into three sections. Record what you should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing. This will wrap up your launch retrospective, and it will prepare you to make your next launch an even bigger success.