Communicating the status of a product launch is a hit-or-miss proposition. Some people get the information they want, and others don't. And they are frustrated.
The frustration comes from a lack of "big picture" information that too much detail hides. Different audiences need different levels of detail.
A review of the progress of one functional area may need a lot of detail. Like down to a specific deliverable. A review with your executive team or board of directors needs a lot less detail and a lot more "big picture".
Detail Isn't Always Your Friend
The higher up in the company you go, the less detail you need to present. Remember, you can always dive into the details when needed. But I highly doubt you will.
Think of a successful product launch as any big, company-wide initiative. A launch affects many departments, all of them in some cases. That's the "big picture" your executive team needs. They want to see how the interconnected parts are working together. And they want information they can act on.
A Sales VP can appreciate that a sales presentation gets completed on a certain date. But what she appreciates more is knowing when her sales team can start selling.
Every member of your executive team needs to see where their team fits in the "big picture" of a product launch. And they want to understand the level of commitment they have signed up for.
Gantt Charts are for Projects
Gantt charts are a common tool to show cross-functional dependencies in a project. Gantt charts are awesome when used at the right time with the right audience.
But even summarized Gantt charts deliver too much information for an executive audience. You need something that focuses on deliverables, outcomes, and coordination.
And that's where a Product Launch Roadmap is the right tool.
The Launch Roadmap
The tool to help you communicate launch status with your executive team is a Launch Roadmap.
A roadmap is a guide. It shows how something gets accomplished. A Product Launch Roadmap fills that definition for a product launch. You get to decide how much detail you put in your Product Launch Roadmap.
A meeting with your Sales Operations team could need a lot of detail. It's the kind of detail needed at the operations level. But that level of detail annoys your executive team.
A Product Launch Roadmap starts with a timeline based on months, not weeks or days.
Below the timeline are two rows. The first row contains Major Milestones. The second row lists Key Events that are important in launch planning, preparation, and execution.
Represent each functional area as a rectangle. The width of the rectangle is time. The height of the rectangle is the level of effort. In the example below, the level of effort to prepare the Sales team is the highest. The level to prepare Partners is the lowest. The height illustrates the level of effort relative to each functional area.
The final part of the Launch Roadmap is to show the launch progress. Do that by highlighting the completed rectangles with a checkmark.
You have a clear and concise communication tool for your executive team. It's informative and actionable.
Check out the article about product launch strategy from the Toptal Product Blog. Timing Is Everything: Choosing the Right Product Launch Strategy
Click the link below to download a PPT slide version of the Launch Roadmap.