Where are we in the Beginners Guide?
Another step toward a remarkable product launch is to define your launch performance metrics. That is, how will you know your launch is producing the Key Results you’ve committed to in your launch plan?
There are an infinite number of metrics you could monitor and report on. You only need a handful of metrics for a remarkable product launch. Tracking a lot of performance metrics results in having too many unrelated things to monitor. This could send you down a very unproductive path.
I guess I could provide a magical list of launch performance metrics. But if I don’t understand what you are doing and what your definition of what good looks like for you, I’m afraid I’d be giving you bad advice.
A Launch Performance Metric Construct
Let’s look at launch performance metrics with a construct that helps you determine what is important to measure and what isn’t.
There are four simple things you need to know to find your launch performance metrics:
Only choose performance metrics that support your Launch Objectives
Choose metrics that measure what needs to get done to deliver your Key Results
Measure the results of doing what needs to get done
Make adjustments where needed
Choose Launch Performance Metrics That Support Launch Objectives
Ignore Launch Performance Metrics that don’t have any connection to your Launch Objectives and Key Results. Focus on the Key Results you’ve committed to and nothing more. Remember that your performance is measured on how well you deliver Key Results, not by making everyone happy.
Your Launch Plan outlines the steps to take to achieve your Key Results. Make sure those steps are being taken. You want to know if they are being followed and if they are being done properly.
A stakeholder insisting on monitoring a performance metric that was not agreed to and formalized in your Launch Plan is an example of mismatched expectations. To avoid this always go back to the Key Results that were agreed to early in the launch planning process.
Focus on What Needs to Get Done
If everyone is doing what needs to get done it shows in the results. This is referred to as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) or Leading Indicator.
It’s important to identify a few Leading Indicators you can track in order to know your Launch Plan is being followed.
Example: If a Key Result is to lose 10 pounds in eight weeks, Leading Indicators could be to eat no more than 1,800 calories per day and get 30-minutes of strenuous exercise 5 times per week. By following this regiment you know you should lose enough weight each week to lose 10 pounds in eight weeks.
Monitor the Results of Doing What Needs to Get Done
Look at the results of doing the things that need to get done. These are referred to as Lagging Indicators. They are the results.
Example: Weighing myself every Saturday is a Lagging Indicator. I step on the scale. My weight is displayed. I either lost weight in the previous week or I didn’t. The results of my efforts are measured by my weight.
Make Adjustments As You Learn
No Launch Plan is perfect, no matter how many smart people work on it. Prepare yourself to learn that the choices made in your Launch Plan may be flawed. It’s OK as long as you respond rationally and methodically.
The discipline to make rational adjustments is rooted in knowing the difference between instances and patterns. An instance may be painful and uncomfortable, but it also could be an outlier. You must be patient enough to wait for a pattern.
Sometimes what needs to change is overwhelmingly obvious. Unfortunately, we assume it’s overwhelmingly obvious without having the data first. We react, rather than deliberate.
Resist the urge to make quick changes without seeing a trend. One sales deal lost is an anecdote. It could be a very painful anecdote, but it’s an anecdote just the same. Five deals lost could be a trend.
If you find your Lagging Indicators are not matching your expectations, look at your Leading Indicators. Is everyone doing what needs to get done? Where is the plan not being followed?
Look for high risk factors and eliminate them. High risk factors cause launch failures. A top priority is looking for those and addressing them as quickly as possible.
Identify the weak links in the performance chain that impact being able to achieve your Key Results. They’re not as deadly as high risk factors but too many of them might as well be high risk. Look for people or functional areas that are not adequately prepared or not fully committed to a successful launch. They are not doing what needs to get done. Find out why and correct it.
Identify strong performance and amplify it. When things are going well, celebrate it and do more of it. Replicate what works.
Report the good, the bad, and the ugly to your stakeholders during your Launch Measurement Window. Reporting is proactive, so delivery launch performance status as frequently as your stakeholders require so problems can be identified and corrected quickly.
Don’t hold back and don’t sugarcoat problems that have a negative impact on your product launch. And never be afraid to celebrate the wins, no matter how small.