What is a Product Launch Manager?
A product launch manager coordinates all efforts across the company related to releasing new products to the market. In the lead-up to a product launch, many teams—product management, sales, marketing, development, customer success, etc.—will work on various projects to support the release. Moreover, the launch manager’s job is to keep these teams aligned, working toward agreed-upon milestones, and helping to ensure the product launch is smooth and creates the maximum positive impact in the market.
What Does a Product Launch Manager Do?
You can think of a launch manager as the CEO of the product launch. Therefore, an effective product launch manager will become the company’s domain expert on successful launches in general and the single source of truth for each product launch. Moreover, here are some responsibilities of the role:
For each launch:
- Communicate with all launch teams to discuss goals, timelines, deliverables, obstacles, and dependencies.
- Developing a strategic launch plan based on stakeholder input, with proposed deadlines and milestones for each team.
- Communicating the plan to all participants—and soliciting feedback—to arrive at an agreed-upon strategy for a successful product launch.
- Coordinating with all teams throughout the launch process to ensure everyone is on track—and helping when a team faces a challenge.
- Tracking everyone’s progress, meeting with all departments to learn if anyone is running into trouble, and holding all teams accountable for completing their tasks on time.
- Learning about all teams’ abilities, schedules, and resource levels—anticipate bottlenecks or other issues early and be able to help.
To build product launch expertise:
- Studying the outcomes of each launch to learn what parts of the process work and where the process needs improving.
- Speaking with company stakeholders to discover which aspects of the launch plans work for them and which, if any, create challenges for their team’s internal processes.
- Learning industry best practices for successful product launches and incorporating them into future company launches.
When Does a Company Need a Product Launch Manager?
The more complex a company’s product launches are, the greater the need for a dedicated launch manager.
Think of a business that manufactures consumer electronic devices. Such an organization would benefit from a product launch manager because those launches have many moving parts. Just a few examples include:
- Coordinating with warehouse, shipping, and logistics vendors to ensure inventory arrives at distribution centers and retail stores before the launch.
- Overseeing the production and distribution of in-store marketing materials to ensure they are ready for display on launch day.
- Tracking marketing’s development of training materials to help retail partners train their in-store employees on the new product’s specs and benefits.
- Monitoring the creation of all marketing and advertising campaigns to ensure they are on track to be released on time to promote the launch.
- Working with any white-label channel partners who plan to resell the product under their brands’ names. (This will also require working with manufacturing to build the white-labeled versions of the products.)
The list goes on and on.
This does not suggest that a business with less complicated launches does not need a product launch manager.
Benefits of a product launch manager
However, any business that regularly releases new products would benefit from a product launch manager. In addition, a dedicated product launch role can increase the success of the company’s launches, and the role can improve the business’s bottom line.
Furthermore, a launch manager can offload many time-consuming tasks from the product manager. Consequently, this is especially true for companies that often task product managers with responsibility for launch management.
In an ideal environment, the product manager will have time to focus on product strategy and vision. Therefore, it provides product managers more time and creative energy for high-level strategic planning.