What happens next is what will make or break your digital project, because all that’s when it has to actually deliver the business case you promised.
Today, we’re going to cover our top 7 tips and strategies for what to do post-launch to give your project the best chance of success.
1. Build in extra dev time for all the nitty gritty bugs
While it’s a bit rough, the truth is that post-launch will be one of the busiest times for our development team. Now, you’re out of the world of controlled sprints and (some) semblance of order and flow to your work.
The best thing you can do is ensure you have enough development resource scheduled for the post-launch period to handle anything that comes in.
Another thing to consider is that because of these growing pains, you don’t want to schedule your launch for the biggest sale day or key production date of the year. Launch at least a few weeks early so you have time to work out the kinks before customers pour in.
2. Plan for inefficiencies
This happens far earlier in the process, but post-launch it’s critical that you control expectations.
Your metrics and performance will take a hit, possibly a big one. If you redesign an e-commerce site, your sales will drop. If you’ve deployed an internal technical solution, your staff will be less productive.
The important part is to make sure you’ve communicated that to your executive leaders ahead of time, as well as any staff who have been impacted (e.g. frontline staff, sales).
More important that overnight, 300% improvement is:
- Realistic expectations around performance
- A timeframe for when your key metrics will bounce back.
One thing to note is that even the best expectations controller will face some pushback and pressure around the performance of the company’s new, shiny (possibly very expensive) tool. So be ready to defend your metrics.
3. Plan your next (small) move
There is no way your digital project is perfect. And while you might feel like a break, the best time to plan your next move is right now, when everyone is fully engaged with the project. In some cases, this is the only time people will actually be around.
So start thinking about where there are further improvements to make and where there are potential business needs to address.
Sometimes, this will be as easy as adding new licenses or users if you’ve implemented a solution. But if you’ve built one or are managing it yourself, it might be a more protracted conversation.
We recommend planning a phase two six to nine months after deployment. This gives metrics time to bounce back, gives users a chance to really go through the product, and gives you time to identify and compile user/business pain.
To be clear though, this shouldn’t be a total overhaul. It should be an incremental improvement to what you already have.
4. Develop an ongoing test framework
After the first few months, your metrics should be starting to recover.
Which means that wherever they stabilize, that’s the new baseline.
Now it’s time to test. A/B testing and it’s big brother, multi-variant testing, are an easy way to eke out a little more life from your new digital asset.
A/B testing is simple: take one small element of your digital project, change it a little bit, then send users to both variations and see what one performs better. The better performing one becomes your new baseline.
This is especially useful for conversion-focused digital projects like websites or anything related to sales, but it can be a useful activity for internal functions too around user experience, user flow, time to completion, and more.
5. Check in with users
This is more for internal-facing projects, but make sure you check in with the people actually using the new tool regularly. Find out what they like/don’t like, and give them an avenue to give you feedback. Ideally, this will be positive but this is also an easy way to get insights into what was working about the old system you’ve replaced.
It’s also a good way to encourage adoption and ownership by giving users the sense that their experiences are both heard and valued, rather than being dictated by an assembled design/development team.
6. Align your project with business objectives
When you’re working on a complex digital project, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the goal isn’t to deliver the project. Rather, your digital project is a tool to achieve business objectives.
If you’ve planned your project correctly, there’s a clear link between your activity and core business objective.
That means a critical part of any post-launch plan is to check the alignment with your chosen goal or goals.
This usually boils down to two things.
First, are you hitting key KPIs and milestones?
If you promised that your digital project would increase sales by 20% over 12 months, are you on track to achieve that revenue goal?
Second, are people using your tool?
You’re on the hook for making sure your digital project takes off. But that’s never going to happen if people internally aren’t using it. Check to see that people are using the tool, they know how and are getting value from it over the long term. Remember: people love the status quo. Change is unpleasant and hard. If you don’t push, then adoption and usage will remain very low.
7. Continue user training
User training usually involves 1-2 sessions during development… and that’s it. But that’s not enough for you to make your digital project a success.
Once your digital project is in the hands of users (especially internal users), you need to continue training them. This can take lots of forms, but a basic program should cover:
Power user identification. Find key users and turn them into power users, who can then act as a source of knowledge for users around them and train additional staff on the ins and outs of the tools. In-depth workshops, webinars, and other enablement tools can find, build, and nurture power users over time.
These programs take a long time to roll out. But post-launch, you should already be building towards them, especially the identification and training of power users. The sooner your digital project is embedded into users day to day, the better off your digital project will be.
Launching your digital project is only half the battle. The other half getting users up and running, controlling expectations as you ramp up, checking in with users and training them, and testing and planning for your next version or project rollout.
It can seem daunting, but the post-launch period is one of the busiest times for both project owners and design/dev teams, so it’s critical that you plan enough resources for it.
And while it’s difficult, it’s also extremely rewarding. Finally, after months of work, your project is starting to make a difference for your organization.