Stage 5 – Commercial Launch
The commercial launch stage involves the implementation of the market plan and operational plans for the product / service or business opportunity. Commercial launch requires that all plans, processes and systems are in place to ensure the achievement of the desired objectives.
Areas of consideration include:
- Employment and training.
- Pilot sales and release.
- Quality control.
- Early sales success.
- Expanding distribution.
- Analysing competitor and customer response.
Questions to consider include:
- Has the documentation for quality control been implemented?
- Has the documentation for manufacturing/service delivery been implemented?
- Has the product/service literature been developed and distributed?
- Has all staff training been finalised?
- Have customer support programs been developed (including technical support, satisfaction surveys, maintenance and warranty etc.)?
- Has a customer recruitment, retention, reward, recognition plans been implemented?
- Have customer workshops been conducted?
- Have meetings with high profile, and/or potential early adopter customers been organised and confirmed?
- Has supply and distributor support been established?
- Have projected costs been met and variances accounted for?
- Have sales forecasts been realised and variances accounted for?
- Are sales and profits being monitored?
- Are profit targets being met?
- Are you achieving projected return on investment?
- Has the estimated market share been achieved?
- Is the business meeting the expectations of its stakeholders – shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees etc.?
- Has there been any competitor response activity?
- Do you have the required funds for scalability?
- Have new product/services and markets been identified?
- Are you fully utilising you business plan to focus and guide your business?
- Does the original business plan need to be revised and updated to reflect new opportunities within the business or in the market place?
- Do you need to review the marketing, financial, operational plans, strategies and budgets?
- Are you staying in touch and addressing the need of the market – customers, competitors, and partners?
- Is the business meeting its performance targets – including business goals and objectives as well as specific targets for staff, equipment, financials, partnership arrangements etc.? Are these being recorded accurately?
- Are you encouraging and supporting and innovative team environment/culture?
- Do all employees clearly understand their roles and responsibilities and who they report to?
- Does the business clearly understand its core competencies? Are business activities focused around the core competencies rather than wasting resources on things that can be undertaken more effectively by someone else?
- Have you effectively identified and evaluated all Intellectual Property (IP) assets owned by the business?
- What processes do you have in place for capturing, assessing and protecting new business opportunities?
- Do you have appropriate systems and processes in place for quality control, risk management, regulatory compliance, information management, financial management etc.?
- Have you developed and are you checking the risk register (product liability, PI etc.).
The following is a practicle guide to achieve this:
Set yourself some goals, actions and deliverables:
Goals – These should communicate the desired outcome you are trying to achieve at this stage
- Demonstrate consistent manufacturing, quality control and cost.
- Finalise accompanying documentation for manufacturing, quality and marketing.
- Finalise literature for sales marketing and user.
- Establish quality control infrastructure.
- Establish distributor and supply management (support).
- Release and launch product /service.
Actions – What needs to be done to realise your goals
- Produce a defect free product keeping in line with established production procedures and worksheets and production.
- Final user manual.
Sales and Marketing
- Print and distribute marketing and sales and customer literature and user documents.
- Develop and implement promotional plan.
- Revise Marketing Plan to include expansion of distribution.
- Update corporate profile.
- Update website.
- Coordinate press release of launch.
- Meet with high profit (or potential early adopter) customers.
- Conduct customer workshops and distributor training.
- Analyse customer and competitor response.
- Introduce and analyse customer satisfaction survey.
- Track sales and profitability.
- Print final manufacturing documentation and worksheets.
- Develop supply and distributor management.
- Final validation of equipment/tooling and develop accompanying maintenance protocols and worksheets.
- Final cost analysis.
- Final QA and confirm testing procedures and documentation and worksheets.
- Print and distribute (to relevant stakeholders) documentation (procedures, worksheets etc) for manufacturing, quality and marketing.
- Develop quality control and customer support infrastructure.
- Employ and train key staff.
- Complete sales staff training.
Business and Finance
- Secure financing and allocate funds.
- Update Business Plan.
- Revise exit strategy.
- Evaluate Opportunity
Deliverables – Outcomes of your actions
- Defect free product.
- User Manual
Sales and Marketing
- Distribution of product literature and user documents.
- Promotional Plan implemented.
- Revised Distribution Plan.
- Supply and distributor manager appointed.
- Corporate profile updated.
- Website updated.
- Press release.
- Training workshops conducted for customers, distributors and sales staff and signed off.
- Competitor response monitored and documented.
- Customer survey results documented and reviewed by relevant stakeholders. Feedback recorded for product improvement opportunities.
- Sales forecast vs actual and variance recorded and discussed
- Printed manufacturing documentation and worksheets.
- Cost of goods sold data recorded and analysed.
- Documented results for equipment validation and printed maintenance protocols and worksheets.
- QA results and printed QA procedures and worksheets.
- Manufacturing, quality and marketing documentation (procedures and worksheets) distributed to relevant stakeholders.
- Quality control and customer support infrastructure.
- Key staff contracts signed off.
- Staff training signed off.
Business and Finance
- Execute contracts with investors and funds allocated (budgeted).
- Revised business plan.
- Revised exit strategy.
- Evaluation report.
Decision: Progress with opportunity, exit or stop.
Below are some tips to help keep you on track:
- Ensure you have the funds to proceed.
- Keep your spending in check.
- Choose the location of your business wisely.
- Keep updating your business, marketing and other key plans. They are rolling documents which can change with new information to keep up with market demand/trends. Don’t reinvent the wheel, simply evolve.
- Choose the right IT infrastructure. Ensure you research this well. It helps if you have a key (senior) staff member with strong IT background. The reason for saying a senior staff member is that experience is the key.
- Get the product to market in a reasonable timeframe, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Iterations can be made post launch. Just ensure the product stands up to reliability testing and can gain confidence in the market and meets the market need. Many improvements can be made quickly post launch.
- Stay committed.
- Audit your intellectual property assets.
- Assess your partnership arrangements.
- Encourage and support an innovative team environment.