Step 7.11 — Generate post-launch evaluation plan.

Determine how best to maintain contact with customers post-sale to obtain feedback.

Primary findings


Evaluating technological innovation systems for their ability to support development and diffusion will identify factors that can hinder adaptation and market success.
Case study findings
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Evaluating technological innovation systems for their ability to support development and diffusion will identify factors that can hinder adaptation and market success.
Case study findings
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Complex technologies require a collaborative approach for successful innovation and diffusion. Minimizing the level of innovation system uncertainty should be a focus of collaboration to identify needs, demonstrate the value of technologies, and work together to design and deliver post-purchase support
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Other resources

Identifying the Key Success Factors in New Product Launch.  (1999)

Successful launches were found to be related to perceived superior skills in marketing research, sales force, distribution, promotion, R&D, and engineering.

Having cross-functional teams making key marketing and manufacturing decisions, and getting logistics involved early in planning, were strategic activities that were strongly related to successful launches.

Several tactical activities were related to successful launches: high quality of selling effort, advertising, and technical support; good launch management and good management of support programs; and excellent launch timing relative to customers and competitors. Furthermore, information-gathering activities of all kinds (market testing, customer feedback, advertising testing, etc.) were very important to successful launches.

We conclude with observations about current product launch practice and with recommendations to management. Logistics plays a key role in successful strategy development and should receive the requisite amount of managerial attention. In particular, activities involving logistics personnel in strategy development showed much room for improvement.

We also find that the timing of the launch (i.e., when the launch is conducted from the point of view of the company, the competition, and the customer) is just as important as whether the activities are performed. More managerial attention should be devoted to launch timing with respect to all of these viewpoints in order to improve the chances of success. (p. 530).

Managing the Supply Chain Implications of Launch.  (2013).

A particular launch consideration is the clean handoff from the development team to the team that will manage the product during and following launch. This handoff provides considerable opportunity to turn a successful product development into a commercial failure. By handoff, we mean that tactical decisions made at launch must align with the strategy that justified the product’s development. For example, distribution logistics must be in place; a reliable demand forecast for the new product must be made to guide manufacturing ramp-up; and promotional activities aimed at both the consumer and the trade must be appropriately timed. (p. 325)

Post-Launch Reviews:  Evaluating your NPD Projects. (2010).

Cross-functional team members (e.g., management, engineering, design, marketing, operations) bring different perspectives and different capabilities to look at the successes, and problems, and will add diversity to the cause and effect relationships. These learnings may be guided by structure, such as how communications were made during the NPD project, or they may be guided by principles, such as how did the organization make decisions. The latter point is especially relevant, when we consider that poor and weak gate decisions are responsible for a great number of failed new product launches. (p. 5)

Haines, S.  Post-Launch Product Management. (2013). 

A post-launch audit is intended to examine every aspect and element of a product launch plan... There are some very important areas that should be the focus of serious investigation. These include:

  • The accuracy of the market window.

Every product needs to be in market at a given time. Many firms use trade shows or some type of seasonal time slot to get to market. Beyond these simpler market-timing aspects, there are others that can be more important. For example, when product managers and their teams know that a product ’s life is ebbing, there may be an important signal to make a strategically competitive statement.

  • The degree to which executives support or drive the launch effort.

In many organizations, a project manager is usually appointed to supervise and coordinate the launch. However, his or her knowledge and experience in planning and overseeing a launch may be limited. Firms that tend to launch successfully usually have a solid executive champion who is engaged early in the launch planning process and who follows the launch project to completion.

  • The validity of all aspects of the business case.

The business case serves as the primary document to justify product investments. Well-constructed business cases contain vital assumptions for the market context, strategic importance, market share estimates, forecasts, and financials. Product leaders often learn valuable lessons when they find that important details were overlooked in the business case.

  • The effectiveness of sales preparation.

Products cannot be effectively sold if salespeople are not brought on board and trained to effectively position the product. Sales executives must also buy in through their agreements to fulfill sales forecasts, provide adequate sales staff, and provide a compensation plan that motivates people to sell and close deals. Salespeople must be given the right material and information, either through formal or informal means. When sales fail to materialize, it is often because there are gaps between what should have been done and what actually happened for the variables mentioned here.

  • Cross-functional alignment.

Product launches are not single-person activities. Rather, they are intensive cross-functional initiatives. The people involved in these functions not only have to work together to bring the product to market, they also have to work collectively to “absorb” the product into the product portfolio. Any missteps in these efforts can have a ripple effect across the organization. As an example, if a new product is launched and the customer service department isn’t adequately staffed or trained to either take orders or resolve issues, customer satisfaction will wane. Audits should be used to isolate any breakdowns in communication, handoff, and other aspects that allow the organization’s gears to spin at the right speed to support the product’s entry into the market and absorption into the portfolio.

These five elements are not only important to the “soon-after” period of the product launch; they serve to set the stage for ongoing analysis of the product ’s market and business performance.

The PDMA Handbook of New Product Development. Third Edition. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 339 — 355.

How Companies are Reinventing their Idea-to-Launch Methodologies. (2009).

Next-generation Stage-Gate systems build-in a rigorous post-launch review in order to instill accountability for results, and at the same time, foster a culture of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is one of the main tenets of lean manufacturing and lends itself readily to application in the field of product innovation. Continuous improvement in NPD has three major elements.  [1] Having performance metrics in place that measure how well a specific new product project performed. For example, were the product’s profits on target? Was it launched on time? [2] Establishing team accountability for results, with all members of the project team fully responsible for performance results when measured against these metrics. [3] Building-in learning and improvement, namely, when the project team misses the target, focus on fixing the cause rather than putting a band-aid on the symptom, or worse yet, punishing the team... The post-launch review is the final point of accountability for the project team. The project’s results are gauged, for example: the first year’s sales, the launch date achieved, and the NPV based on latest results. These numbers are then compared to the projections — to the original success criteria. Accountability issues are high on the agenda of this vital best-practice review: Did the team achieve what was promised when measured against the success criteria? The continuous learning and improvement facet must be in place too; if results are measured and deficiencies are identified but no action is taken, there’s no improvement and one keeps repeating the same mistakes. Thus, at the post-launch review, when a project team misses the target, a root cause analysis ensues to determine the cause of the deficiency and to prevent its recurrence. The focus is on continuous improvement—a learning organization—rather than on blaming the team and creating a culture of fear and retribution.

Post-Launch Reviews Improve New Product Performance (2015).

There are two fundamental categories of post-launch reviews. The first, "Team Self-Assessment Project Reviews," primarily lets product developers explore lessons learned from a just completed project. The second, "Management Business Reviews of New Products," are for managers to explore the financial and marketplace results of a new product and contrast the results to those promised when the project was approved... Closed-loop cycles of learning are best achieved when Team reviews involve items within the Team's control, and are done within a few months after launch. Management reviews should be conducted shortly after the financial forecast periods used in the business plan come to fruition, and focus on promise vs. actual.

A Critical Post-Launch Follow-up for Your New Product (2015)

Did your product come out when you said it would? There are any number of reasons that can delay a launch: from development, to manufacturing, to financial constraints. If there was something that sidelined your product, you need to find out how that impacted its sales. Also, you need to determine if this hurt your reputation as a company. Was there bad publicity or consumer backlash? Getting to the bottom of why these problems happened is critical information when moving forward with subsequent launches. 

Was the timing right? A lot of companies don’t understand (or even care to understand) how to time the release of a new product. Sometimes they’ll put it out in market even though there may be no demand. They might be trying to time the product’s launch with some other event, or feel that because the competition just launched their item, they need a similar response. These are not the reasons you should use when determining your timetable. 

How did the market respond? Part of your post-launch strategy should include how the market reacted to your new item or service. Was it positive, negative or just lukewarm? It’s very important that you take a look at reasons your target audience might have had to not buy from you. Talk to your customers and find out exactly what kept them from making a purchase. This information may help you change the current perception of your product.

How did your sales force react? Sales is a great place to gather important information regarding response to your product. When conducting your post-launch follow up, there are several key areas you should be evaluating: Promotional Literature and Training Materials; Marketing Materials; Feedback from Customers.

Were your customer support channels in place for launch? Time and again, products fail in the market because behind the scenes support was not ready or properly established prior to launch.