Are You Ready to Launch?

When are enough requirements enough? Is the minimum viable product enough? How do we get it right for initial launch and then put an iteration plan in place?

Here are some ideas on getting to the first stage of done:

1. Set one big project challenge as a wager. You are, after all, putting time and money at risk to develop a quality product. Example: We wager $XX,000 on this project in the belief that Y new clients will request a product quote on a daily basis, with a Z% conversion rate.

2. Set 3 high-level requirements that must be met in the initial launch. Later in the project set the first 3 things to develop after launch, and the next 3, and so on. Now you have your initial launch goal and first iterations.

3. Use checklists. Make the first one a project checklist that all projects follow. Not all steps on the checklists will apply to all projects. Use available QA and Web Development checklists, such as a website launch checklist.

4. Build in instrumentation that will capture your success rate and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Google Analytics should be your first consideration. Also consider logging key events on your site. This comes in handy later for debugging or answering questions.

5. Make sure that the critical path to initial launch has enough/right resources to get everything in the initial launch bucket done. Build the plan around the critical path.

6. Important – keep the project visible! Put a large printed diagram of the project and path to completion somewhere visible. Printing a large copy of your project diagram and hanging it on the wall is a great tool and rally point for everyone.

7. Once the chart is on the wall, mark it up: leave items blank if not started, highlight in yellow when started, and highlight green when complete. That way stakeholders, managers, and the team can get walk-by progress and status at all times – and not continuously ask team members for updates.

These are just a few ideas to get the project off the ground with an initial focus. Assuming you sold this project throughout your organization up front and it is fully supported you’ll also want to continuously promote your progress and keep the team inspired.

There are a lot of issues around when to launch and specifically what is in and not in Day-1 project launch. There are also a lot of anti-get-to-done forces that will come against your project. This is a key point that will determine if you can create and run a phased project plan with iterations or if you need to define an all-or-none detailed project plan. This is where some projects go into an endless requirements cycle and often fail.

Good luck on your project!

“You can’t sell complicated to someone who came to you to buy simple.”
~Seth Godins