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What should we focus on in a launch post-mortem / retrospective?

4 Answers
Julia Szatar
Julia Szatar
Loom Director of Product Marketing & Lifecycle MarketingAugust 25

There are three things to focus on: process, qualitative, and quantitative. A launch is very cross-functional – so you can ask yourself, how did the process go? Are there improvements to be made for next time? Especially when you are at a startup and the team and processes are still evolving and maturing. 

On the qualitative side, it's harder to measure but – you can ask, did the message resonate? We launched our loomSDK back in June 2021, and we called it the "Record Button for the Internet" (thank you, brand team!). People were referencing this on social over and over, so we could "tell" that the message had resonated.

At the end of the day, the quantitative metrics are most important and you need to determine these upfront. It really depends on the launch and target audience. It can be as basic as email open and click-through rates for existing users to sign-ups. It also depends on how sophisticated your data is, we are still working on attribution and it isn't always easy to show that a launch drove sign-ups, for example. 

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Jodi Innerfield
Jodi Innerfield
Salesforce Senior Director, Product Marketing Launch Strategy & Emerging ProductsJanuary 12

First--well done for having a post-mortem! It's really easy to just get caught up in the next thing that comes along, but post-mortems are super important!

This is your time to reflect on the launch planning, the launch itself, and whatever happens next. 

Launch Planning Reflection - Get feedback from stakeholders involved in the planning. Did everyone have what they need to do their jobs? Was there adequate time to get everything done? Were the right people involved from the beginning or at the right time? This information should inform changes in your bill of materials or launch planning steps for the next launch.

Launch Results - Since you want a post-mortem to happen relatively soon after the launch, you probably don't have too many KPIs to measure. But you can reflect on how launch day went--did everything go as planned? What happened that was unexpected you could better plan for next time? Were your launch-day KPIs hit?

Next Steps - Post-mortems may help you identify what needs to happen next. For example, are you getting a specific question from sales or customers that you weren't prepared for? Maybe update your resources and FAQs to address questions that you didn't anticipate. What post-launch activities come next that are either on track or need to be adapted based on launch day?

Sending out an anonymous survey ahead of the post-mortem ensures everyone gets their thoughts heard. Ask two questions: 

1. What went well?

2. What should we do differently?

Then, group answers by theme and by stage listed above. Use the actual post-mortem meeting to share the results and have people elaborate

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Chris Glanzman
Chris Glanzman
ESO Director of Product Marketing & Demand GenerationAugust 16

95% of launch post-mortem discussions fall into one of two categories:

  1. Execution: These points are focused on how the launch process went, how the team performed against the plan, and whether the process needs any adjustments. With the complexity and scale of some launches, expect for communication to be a big talking point here. The goal of reviewing this is to determine how the organization can improve the process for the next go-around.
  2. Effectiveness: This is focused on the outcomes of your particular launch. My launches typically have a lot of up-front activity and promotion, but we work even harder to make sure that the launch isn't a flash in a pan. Depending on the launch, it may fold into an ongoing campaign or become one of its own. Regardless of the type, we take this time to step back and review whether the launch's product-market hypothesis is on point. We cna do all the research in the world leading into a launch, but we still always learn something new along the way. The goal of this component is to make sure those feedback loops are functioning, document those learnings, and apply them to go-to-market efforts moving forward.

A few years ago, I stopped structuring the actual conversations this way. We found that we weren't giving enough attention to the things that were going well, and some post-mortems completely devolved into group complaint sessions. I switched to a meeting where each functional stakeholder/participant gets a time allotment and covers the three items below. It's worth noting that I believe this specific order to be an important factor in keeping the conversations productive.

  1. What's going well: Share wins, achievements, and what's working correctly. If you're familiar with the Start/Stop/Keep Doing framework, this section maps directly to the Keep Doing bucket.
  2. What's in the way: This is raising awareness of speedbumps. Because these reviews are cross-functional, this is a great opportunity to share friction points that you may need another function to help resolve. This is also an opportunity to share the need for additional tooling or resources if the constraint is contributing to problems.
  3. Even better if: I believe this to be the most valuable of the three topics. These points are typically a stretch or highly idealistic, but it lets the group discuss ways to take incremental steps toward that ideal state.
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Lisa Dziuba
Lisa Dziuba
Lemon.io Head of Growth Product MarketingSeptember 5

A launch post-mortem is a safe place for our team to share constructive feedback. Every feedback should lead to some action item. We focus on Reflection on Planning, Reflection on Launch/GTM, and Reflection on communication.

Reflection on Planning:

  • Were the requirements and expectations clear (brief)?
  • Was our timeline reasonable?
  • Were deadlines hit? If not, why?
  • Anything which came out that we didn’t plan? What were the main blockers/bottlenecks that we didn’t predict?

Reflection on Launch/GTM:

  • How did the launch go? What went go? What went wrong?
  • Did we hit our goals? If not, Why?
  • What have we learned? What we will do differently next time?

Reflection on communication

  • Where did we have miscommunications?
  • Where did we communicate better than last time?
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