Sometimes companies talk about "eating their own dog food" or "drinking their own champagne," meaning they use their own product or service. At Rhythm Systems, we're no exception. We follow our own methodology and use our own software tool to execute our strategic initiatives. So, I thought I'd share a little case study example of how we used Rhythm to pull off a cross-functional product launch this year. I know many of our clients are planning to launch new products or services in the next year, so maybe this will be helpful.
If you've ever done it before, you know that launching a new product is about as cross-functional as it gets - you need development, marketing, sales, service, finance, everyone really. So, when our executive team set an Annual Priority for Launching Rhythm v5, it was an all-hands-on-deck situation!
Insight #1: Clarify the Goal
Following our own process, we had to start by getting clear on the success criteria. We all know that "launch" to some people could mean beta testing with three clients, and to others, it could mean that all our existing clients were migrated to the new system. It would be awful to get to our due date and have the development team thinking "launch" meant a prototype for select customers while sales has lined up 20 new customers expecting to start using the full new platform. So, we clarified the goal by setting a due date and aligning behind the same Red, Yellow, Green success criteria.
For us, the goal was to launch the product and begin seeing results in sales growth and retention. We had some specific metrics to hit, and we communicated those to all the departments working on the launch. With those big picture goals in mind, the different teams met to set their own goals, and we shared the goals across the entire company to ensure we were aligned. We had a virtual meeting in January with our entire company on the line where each department shared their goals with due dates and success criteria and the rest of the team had time to ask questions and make adjustments if anything was off track. Think along the lines of "If we can't hit the Aug. 1 launch date, what's plan B?" and "Will the marketing team really be able to focus on this launch and marketing the virtual event scheduled for the same month?"
Insight #2: Visibility is Key
One of the hardest parts of managing a truly cross-functional project is knowing how the work is going in all the different teams. This is so challenging because most functional areas have a power tool they use to manage the details of their work. Our company is no different. Our development team uses Pivotal to track feature requests and fix bugs. Our marketing manager loved working Monday to manage the details of her projects. Our sales, support, and services teams use HubSpot's CRM to manage contacts, tickets, and deals. Our head of finance uses Quickbooks and spreadsheets to do the financial modeling and make pricing decisions. You get the idea - the work is being done in all these different places.
As the person in the company who was accountable for the overall project, I needed an easy way to see if we were on track without needing to log in to seven different systems and hunt down what was going on with my product launch. I didn't want to hold endless update meetings that would slow our progress, but I really needed to know how the different teams were doing on the deliverables they were accountable for. Thank goodness for Rhythm!
Each of these different teams managed the details of their execution in the system designed to maximize their workflows for the specific tasks they were doing, AND we used Rhythm to stay aligned at a high level on what the goal was for each team and whether they were on track or not. Let me give you an example of what I mean. We had a high-level company priority for Launching v5. Then, we had a Marketing Team priority to execute the marketing plan. There were some milestone tasks (Host a webinar, Send a day-before the launch blast email, Set up in-app notifications, etc.) with due dates so everyone in the company could see the status of the goal and whether those tasks were getting checked off on time. But, the details of the campaigns and the messaging and the open rates and all the things Marketing does behind the scenes to make it happen were in the marketing manager's Monday workspace where she liked to keep those assets organized and collaborate with her freelance designers and other contributors. She linked out to her project in Monday from her Priority in Rhythm, so anyone (like me) who wanted to dig into the details of the execution could do it easily.
The same is true for all the teams - the Consulting team tracked priorities around their readiness to deliver in the new tool, the Rhythm Success Team had priorities to update their training materials and processes, the Product Team had high-level screens and features recorded as tasks on a priority so everyone in the company could see what we were building next and which features were being deferred until after the initial launch without having to access the roadmap or get into the technical weeds.
Insight #3: Adjust When Needed
As our deadline approached, we had to pivot. We weren't going to launch until we were confident it would be a great experience for our clients (see above where I mentioned that our overall Green goal was to retain more of our clients!) The last thing we wanted to do was put a product out there that our clients would not love, so we made the tough call to go to plan B and adjust our launch date.
Because we had communicated clearly and kept our team updated with the status every week, this was not a surprise or problem for anyone. We shifted seamlessly to Plan B, everyone aligned around their deliverables on the new timeline. Continuous communication, visibility into progress, and clarity around the ultimate goal for the project allowed us to be flexible and adjust while still delivering on a successful outcome.
A bonus tip for you is to celebrate success! When you have a huge company-wide cross-functional initiative like launching a new product, take time at the end to learn from what didn't work so you can improve the next time around and celebrate what did work with the team who helped make it happen. Another great thing about managing the execution of the product launch in Rhythm is that we have a great template for a successful launch to refer back to the next time we do a major update. We don't have to try to remember how many marketing communications there were or when we announced the dates to clients or how we arrived at the decision to defer the date because it's all there in Rhythm!
If you want better alignment and visibility for your next cross-functional initiative, we'd love to show you how Rhythm can help you achieve success.