All related (103)
Jasmine Jaume
Director, Product Marketing, IntercomNovember 7

In the past we've used things like Google Sheets/docs, but for the past 18 months or so we've started using Coda and it's been a game changer. We do all our launch planning in Coda, which means there is one 'source of truth' where all stakeholders can see progress, timelines, who's responsible for what etc. This has been much easier than our previous world of having loads of different docs and no one ever knowing where anything is! I actually published a template of our launch plan in Coda , which you can make your own copy of if you like.

Outside of Coda, for bigger launches we usually have weekly syncs with key stakeholders to keep things on track and use slack channels to coordinate async. For our biggest launches, we have support from program managers (on the R&D side) and campaign managers (on the marketing side) who help coordinate comms, update emails etc to keep everyone on track. Before we had those teams in place, PMMs usually played that role!

Sunny Manivannan
Vice President & GM, Global SMB, BrazeJune 16

1. Google Sheets
2. Slack and Email

My personal perspective (and I know this is not a popular opinion) - keep project management tools as far away as possible from your product launches. There are very few product launches that are so complex that a well-organized plan in Google Sheets can't do the trick. No one wants to learn how to use a project management tool to check a single checkbox in a 200-item project plan. The best way to keep people engaged is to use tools everyone is familiar with.

Daniel Kuperman
Head of Core Product Marketing & GTM, ITSM Solutions, AtlassianApril 7

I am very biased in this case because my company, Atlassian, makes tools that help with this. For example, we are heavy users of Confluence and for each product launch we have a page outlining the steps, ownership, deadlines, etc. related to each activity of the launch. This page is shared across teams and anyone can see it and understand what's going on. 

In this Confluence page we can also embed specific Jira tickets that the product team is using to manage their deliverables for the launch, which is helpful since we on the PMM team don't have to go searching for Jira tickets since they will all be embedded on the page and updated real-time.

There's a new product that Atlassian just publicly announced (but which we have been using internally for a while) called Atlas (https://www.atlassian.com/software/atlas) that helps you keep cross-functional teams aware of a project status. This has been super helpful because that Confluence page I mentioned earlier can be linked from an Atlas 'ticket'. Every week the owner of that 'ticket' writes a short update on the project status which is then automatically shared with everyone that is following that project. So in the case of a product launch, I would add key stakeholders to this Atlas ticket and they will all get notifications of the launch status at any time that I update it. These notifications come in the form of an email as well as Slack notifications. Very helpful!

Amey Kanade
Product Marketing at Fire TV (Smart TVs), AmazonApril 21

1. I create custom marketing dashboard daily reports ahead of every product launch. (Google analytics/Periscope/Tableau Daily Reports, don't have a specific preference as long as the right metrics are reported to all stakeholders on a daily basis during the launch period)

2. I hate and love Asana, Slack.

Sara Rosso
Director of Product Marketing, HubSpot | Formerly Early hire @ Automattic (WordPress.com, WordPress VIP)April 7

As a fully distributed / remote company, we operate slightly uniquely than other companies - the two biggest differences are 1) we don't use email and 2) everything by default is public to the entire company.

Instead of email, we publish everything on our intranet, which is naturally powered by WordPress, and it's also public to the entire company. The intranet is essentially hundreds of WordPress(.com) sites, which we call P2s after the theme they run. P2 is available for anyone to use https://p2theme.com/ and the design enables easier front-end posting & inline commenting, so it's less of a broadcast tool and more of a conversation or social network. The P2s can be dedicated to teams, projects, or topics, and they're all networked together so that you can mention a colleague, or cross-post to a team's p2 to loop them into the conversation.

The wonderful thing about having public information is that you can involve any person in the company in seconds, and they can read the specific comment, question, or conversation they're being asked to weigh in on without forwarding them a chain of emails. The information is threaded and available, and they can see what everyone else has said before them, and people can even like the comment / answer. We post vision and strategy, calls for discussion, project outlines & to-dos, tracking of major efforts. Discussions, decisions, documentation. It's all privately public.

Mike Polner
Head of Consumer Marketing, Discord | Formerly Uber, Fivestars, Electronic ArtsJune 10

I wish I could say I have some secret weapon tool that's truly magical, unfortunately, I am just a Google Docs power user. More broadly, I should say that keeping stakeholders engaged comes more from a tight operating cadence than just a tool. This boils down to:

1. Have a clear goal and vision. 

2. Tell the appropriate people about it (ie., inform the right folks, and designate the responsible parties so it's clear who's doing what.)

3. Have a regular operational meeting cadence. Meetings, done well, are super high leverage.

4. Send out regular communications to let the appropriate parties know what's happening. 

I should also take this opportunity to shamelessly plug https://www.haveignition.com/ which is attempting to solve this exact problem in a pretty cool, automated way. Full disclosure, I'm an investor in the company, but think they're doing some cool things for the PMM community!

Gregg Miller
VP of Product Marketing, Oyster®September 27

GTM kickoff meeting: It is absolutely essential to get all the right stakeholders in the same room to get on the same page around what we're doing, why, by when, and with which owners. I like to have my team run these meetings roughly three months before a given launch and use them as an opportunity to share out a preliminary GTM strategy they've developed in partnership with the product manager. The goal of the meeting is to provide a concrete rough draft detailing strategy and assets and timeline and owners for everyone in the room to pressure test and improve upon. It should be a collaborative discussion that brings out the best thinking of everyone there and then develop the right set of next steps.

Launch tiering philosophy: Not all product releases are created equal -- or more aptly, will have similar value for customers/the business. You will quickly tire out your external audiences and your internal teams if you are always shouting full volume about everything that ships. Having an agreed upon system for classifying upcoming releases as small/medium/large is a fantastic way to align on level of effort and importance for a given release and ensure all teams are investing the right amount of effort.

Asana or similar tool: There's a lot of moving pieces in a launch. Trying to keep it all coordinated in a basic Google Sheet or word doc is just too brittle. I find that tools like Asana really shine when it comes to product launches as they combine timeline visualization, task ownership, commenting and communication, etc. all in one place and in a way that is much easier to manage/stay on top of.

Retrospectives: Too often teams focus on the launch itself and shipping the thing and don't have an intellectually honest conversation after the fact to ask "did it work, and if not, how are we going to either improve results or avoid similar mistakes in the future?" These can be hard conversations to have as folks have invested a ton of energy into building and launching the product, but without them a company risks defining execution as success rather than defining the desired business outcome as success.

Naman Khan
Chief Marketing Officer, BlendMarch 17

There are 3 that I couldn’t live without:

Total Project Manager (TPM): This is the “quarterback” of the launch, they own the master launch plan, ensure dependencies are captured, establish alignment & drive accountability. When I was at Salesforce, we assigned a TPM for Dreamforce every year from within the PMM team and it was a key to a successful launch across the exec keynote, breakout sessions, analyst briefings, web & more.

Workstream DACI: This is a comprehensive list of the various work streams that comprise a product launch, such as Core Messaging Development, Core Content Development, Sales Enablement, Launch Event etc. Each workstream has its own DACI which provides clarity on who the DRI is (protip: ensure that there is only one person who is the A=Accountable for the DACI to work!). We used a Workstream DACI at Dropbox for our major launch event & user conference in September 2019 and it worked well, keeping the core team and stakeholders aligned throughout the process.

Weekly Standup: This is a simple operational meeting that over delivers! The TPM typically runs this weekly meeting which consists of short updates from each workstream DRI, with reference to the workback schedule for that specific workstream. In addition to providing a great way to keep each other updated on progress, ask questions and solve problems, it is also brings people together as a team and helps move everyone is the same direction. Also, knowing that you have to provide an update every week helps keep work moving forward

Iman Bayatra
| Formerly Google, MicrosoftAugust 9

I use two main tools to ensure all teams are aligned and engaged: Google Sheets and Slack. In addition, I make sure to schedule weekly / bi-weekly meetings with relevant stakeholders to prioritize tasks, define new ones and analyze performance of current activities.

Below is a breakdown of how I use the tools at different stages of product launch:

  •  Launch tiers: to categorize launch tiers I use a launch level matrix that I share with relevant stakeholders using Google sheets.
  •  Launch Planning: for this part I mainly use a checklist that I put on a Google Sheet. The checklist covers all launch tiers, defines the corresponding set of activities for each launch tier and clearly defines who is the owner and the approver of each activity, status, deadline, etc...
  •  Internal communication and updates: Slack is my go-to tool to keep teams informed as it makes it easy and fast to get and share info with the stakeholders in different shapes: messaging, video calls, audio calls, etc.. In addition, I make sure to meet with different teams on a weekly / bi-weekly basis to review the launch plan status and to prioritize and define new ones.
  •  Analytics & measurement: to follow up on the performance of different activities and track metrics, I import the data from Google Analytics and internal system to a Google Sheet. Sometimes I build tailored dashboards using Google Studio.