I believe there are four critical areas of investment to consider after your product launches:
Onboarding & Adoption
Onboarding & Adoption
As you share your new product with the world, expect to invest time in manually onboarding new users, including:
Unique organization or data structure
Your users will likely share with you needs and reactions you haven’t yet anticipated. That’s because people often use products in a different way than we expect – so keep your eyes wide open, going shoulder to shoulder with your new customers—and aim to discover how they’re using your software to solve problems. This will allow you to not only smoothly deliver onboarding solutions but also inform the next investments in the product.
In the early stages of your new software, don’t measure success in terms of hours spent on manual activities—as it’s easy to become frustrated here—but rather measure the value you’re delivering to your new customers as you collaborate with them and discover their obstacles.
If you fail to answer questions or troubleshoot the software, your users won’t remain users for long. So be sure to dedicate real people to respond to tickets, create a knowledge base with instructional articles, or create a chat function.
To determine the level of investment needed for user support, examine your software’s complexity, user sophistication, service level agreements (SLAs), support technology, and user support content. Consider an investment in help desk software to manage requests and create content for users to gather on their own. Being organized and ready to communicate and collaborate with your users will increase customer satisfaction.
The first two areas of investment focus on your customers while this one focuses on maintaining and improving your product. No software product launches in a perfect state; and, even if it did, competing products would soon overtake it.
So expect to face investment costs related to fixing bugs and troubleshooting, changing existing features, building new features, and supporting development operations.
It’s also important to encourage your engineers to prioritize work, balancing demands for fixing bugs versus adding new features.
Too often product managers are thought of as a “nice to have” when allocating time and resources. However, to achieve a successful software product, you’ll need a plan for product management.
Product managers are an important investment because they understand and maintain the value proposition and work closely with the onboarding and adoption team to acquire insight from customers’ needs. They also ensure that the software product delivers on the needs of the business so it can continue to receive the resources it needs to exist.
Please note: in small teams, the customer success manager, user support person, and product manager might all be the same person. The important point here is that you need a strategic person willing to balance customer needs versus business drivers.
The bottom line: Failing to invest in product management can be one of the most expensive mistakes you can make.
We’ve said this before, but when it comes to digital products, the hardest challenge is building the right software that solves your customers’ problem(s). That’s why so many of us in this industry champion the agile methodology. It’s not worth striving for perfection up front because the real learning happens after launch.
When you shift into this mindset, you realize that you must plan for a bigger investment after launch than what you actually put into the first iteration of the software itself. At the same time, no digital product receives unlimited resources. Consider planning for 6-24 months after launch, giving yourself time to develop the product and guide it into maturity.
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