Why do most IT product launches fail?

2 minute read

There is a great article on the causes of failure of product launches from HBR - many thanks to Joan Schneider and Julie Hall.

Product launches suffer from the typical downfall of many projects where the last few days or hours can make or break 18 months of work. Like major IT cutovers, they are choreographed over the last few hours to get the press releases out and put on the show. They also benefit from practices and dry runs before the go live. Yet the area remains a desert in terms of support from software applications.

If Andreessen Horowitz is right and software is eating the usual activities of work this area has been left for later. Where is the toolset to help improve the user experience in this stressful arena that is critical to getting benefit from significant investment in product development?

Project tools have UIs that are too complex to enable the required level of adoption across your organization

Projects involve more and more of the organization, from marketing to logistics, but the software is often focused on the needs of the project engineer/consultant, leading to tool complexity that keeps most of the organization from understanding it.

Planning is good but execution is what matters and no tools support this effectively

The plan is about executing in a coordinated manner to deliver a goal but the plan in current software forms often focuses, with an insufficient level of accuracy, on what is supposed to happen. This makes it difficult to pivot and use in execution to capture exactly what is happening, which is not supportive in helping people to decide on next steps.

The launch is the most critical phase, yet most tools can't support planning in minutes and seconds and execution in real-time

Many projects involve vast numbers of people, many hours and millions of dollars in investment over multi-year preparation, yet their benefit pay off is skewed to massively rely on a day or a few hours of launch activities that have to go right. If you try using any of the current tools to help you here, you may find that they break when moved from the concept of planning in months and getting weekly updates to planning in minutes and getting real-time updates. The future of major project launch success is getting the minutes right and the typical tools used today don’t help here.


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