Across industries, one-quarter of revenues and profits come from launching new products and services, according to McKinsey & Company. However, failures rates of launches remain high – around 40 percent – regardless of product complexity or the amount of money spent on introducing a new product.
Employ best practices, including conducting “day-in-the-life” simulations engaging all company departments prior to launch and monitoring user reaction closely post launch to improve your chance of success.
STEP 1: DEVELOP A MINDSET BEYOND THE TECHNOLOGY
In many cases, companies focus nearly all of their resources on product development and usability testing at the expense of operations. Questions about how to market the product, sell it, price it, deploy it on a repeatable basis, train employees and customers on how to use it, and support it through technology and customer service often go unanswered until the launch is impending.
STEP 2: INCLUDE ALL STAKEHOLDERS FROM THE GET GO
Representatives from all aspects of the business – marketing, sales, training, implementation, customer service and operations, for example – should be included at the kickoff meeting and kept in the loop as product development and testing progresses.
STEP 3: CONDUCT OPERATIONAL ACCEPTANCE TESTING
Often known as the “pilot” environment, Operational Acceptance Testing (OAT) ensures that end-to-end processing is validated – that is, everything required to support the product is in place.
STEP 4: PERFORM STRESS AND VOLUME TESTING ACROSS ALL USE CASES
Some innovative products perform well in many use cases but fall short in others – for example, a promising innovation can fail in its attempt to scale. Stress testing allows for monitoring an application crash and its recovery. Volume testing inflates databases to their maximum capacity and performance levels to monitor throughput and response times.
STEP 5: EXECUTE “DAY-IN-THE-LIFE” SIMULATIONS
Day-in-the-life simulations prior to product launches engage employees in role-playing as consumers and replicate entire end-to-end processes as much as possible. Companies should evaluate all aspects of using the product and its support services. Product performance and customer service, including call centers, “hot lines” and chat should be reviewed under different scenarios. Response times should be recorded and connectivity tested.
IT and operations play a large role in “day-in-the-life” simulations – IT monitoring activity and throughput, and operations monitoring calls. If evaluating a new payment product, operations would monitor transactions and output, ensuring that new transactions appear on statements, are reconciled and can be reversed accurately.
End-of-month or end-of-year simulations also should be tested for products affected by any different activities occurring during these periods.
STEP 6: POST-LAUNCH MEASUREMENT
No one should expect perfection right out of the gate. It’s important to make quick adjustments based on early response to products. Take the case of Pingit, launched by Barclays in 2012. Pingit met with initial disappointment since teens under 18 weren’t allowed to use it. Parents, wanting to send money to their children, complained on social media. Barclays acted quickly and dropped its age requirement to 16.
Post-launch measurements should include:
- Comparing product performance with the original business case on key success metrics – revenue, expenses, EBITDA, for example
- Conducting financial trending analysis
- Tracking market influences that affect product performance to enable improvements