The adrenaline rush following a successful software product launch can be intoxicating, but what follows is less of a celebratory toast and more of a pivotal question: “What now?”
No matter what industry you find yourself in, there’s a pretty strong likelihood you’ll end up building or leveraging a software product to serve your customers/users in some form or fashion. But once you launch that software product, your role as a company changes. You’re a software company now, just as much as whatever else your company was beforehand. And stepping into the arena of software development means entering into a commitment to innovate, iterate and evolve what you offer your users.
Much like the Apollo NASA missions, the launch wasn’t the end of the journey… it was the midway point. Sure, years of research, development, engineering, and building went into those rockets to take the astronauts to the Moon. But no one was confused about what happens after the launch — you not only want to get the astronauts to the moon, but you have to get them home as well.
The same is true for software development. Yes, a ton of effort goes into launching your product, but that’s just the beginning of its journey. You can’t just put the product on cruise control and perform maintenance only — you have to steer your ship through new and challenging waters.
To do that well requires meticulous planning and a sense of duty to serve, innovate, refine, and improve that product on behalf of the users you hope will come to count on you (and by extension, this software).
For a full, in-depth breakdown of everything you need to know, check out this video of the webinar:
If you prefer to just read the gist of it, we break it all down for you below as well!
Your first order of business? Assembling your product team. This stage presents pitfalls for many companies — a lot of firms either lean heavily on a third-party vendor or hurry to hire a CTO. But in our experience, a product manager often makes the most impactful addition to your team at this stage. These professionals understand the many facets of the product and maintain a close relationship with the most critical stakeholders: your users.
Just as crucial as the composition of your team is your financial runway. The current startup climate presents a challenging funding environment, making it more important than ever to be judicious about spending. Establishing a clear view of your monthly expenses for product development and carefully utilizing your budget is paramount to surviving and thriving.
The next question you have to answer is — what happens if you have a problem in your user environment? In a global market, many founders wisely opt to use offshore development resources. But potential production issues during U.S. business off-hours can throw a wrench into the smooth operations of your software. What happens if something breaks on a Saturday? Or at 4pm on a weekday, and your whole software team is based in India in that time zone? Striking a balance between budget constraints and the need for on-demand support becomes crucial.
Also vital is a bird’s-eye view of your roadmap. As you roll out new features or functionalities you can’t tunnel-vision into a one-sprint-at-a-time mentality; take a step back and assess your high-level features and their estimated rollout timeline. Your customers appreciate not only knowing what’s coming next but also when they can expect these upgrades.
Deploying minimum viable analytics to understand user behavior, usage patterns, and potential system issues is vital. The aim is to identify and fix problems before your users even notice them.
As you step into the world of live users, remember that releases can no longer afford to disrupt the system. Devise a comprehensive testing plan that accounts for verification, approval from stakeholders, and careful timing of releases (hint: not Friday afternoons).
Remember, while pre-launch investment might have been focused on product resources, the post-launch phase calls for a shift toward automation. Early-stage startups might not need to delve into automated testing initially, but as your product gains traction, building out an automated testing process becomes invaluable.
To sum it all up, the post-launch journey of a software product is a challenging yet exciting one. But with careful planning, a dedicated team, and an unwavering commitment to iteration and innovation, it’s a journey well worth taking.