How To Sabotage a Successful Product With a Half-Baked Delivery
Release management is the first step to customer success, literally.
Let me know if this sounds familiar. Your team delivers an amazing new product or feature that customers have been demanding for months, then nobody uses it. Or they use it incorrectly. Or they complain that it doesn’t work like they wanted.
Most of the time I see this scenario play out, especially with startups, the mistake isn’t in the product itself, it’s in the delivery.
Release Management in a Nutshell
Releasing a new product or feature to a real customer market isn’t all that difficult anymore. This is especially true with software and digital products, where “release” has evolved from an overnight multi-hour process to a button push and an automated warning to customers to refresh their screens.
That doesn’t mean release management is just as simple. It’s still a convoluted process that gets misconstrued and overlooked more often than not.
I’m not talking about user acceptance testing and production scheduling. You probably do that. I’m not even talking about customer notification. Most companies, even startups, also do that.
I’m talking about the communication, stepping all the way back to the reasons why you built the product or feature in the first place — the benefits it brings to your customers — and making sure those benefits are immediately presented, and more importantly, absorbed and understood by each party in your delivery chain.
This requires much more work than attaching release notes to an email. But because startups are always hell-bent on two-week agile cycles and continuous improvement, they tend to rush through passing that improvement along to customers, saying, in effect, “Here, this is what you wanted.”
I know why this happens. Much like how dedicating time to building a coherent product roadmap can put a major damper on a startup’s velocity of production and sales, the same effort put into release management can turn those snappy two-week delivery cycles into swampy two-month delivery cycles, and leave a big mess of unread documentation strewn across the…