Launch Architecture

The objective of launch architecture is to provide domain specialists and other developers a framework to focus and direction their new product development efforts. With the appropriate actionable guidance, good plans get better and individuals effectively contribute to system goals. The appropriate launch architecture ensures a better, faster, and more efficient path to launch success because it is a “launch objectives drive development” method.

Inefficient Launch - Sequential Stages and Multiple Transfers of Responsibility

In a large percentage of new product development efforts, most of the engineering development is finished and then a launch plan is assembled. In a large percentage of new service efforts, most of the training development is directed to proficiency in installation or maintenance tasks and the customer experience portions are minimized. Typically, the launch plan is built by a cut-and-paste method with a predisposition for popular components.

It is tempting to plan a launch by mimicking the techniques of other companies. Too many product managers develop their launch plans in this manner and fail to realize that more effective implementations are possible. Too many organizations follow a "build it" then learn how to "sell it" sequence. These ad-hoc methods are inefficient.

A launch architecture approach may follow a front end of innovation effort.

More Effective Product and Service Launch

A launch architecture approach provides a robust, system-level focus and direction for individual contributors to complete all of the development within the project constraints.

Launch architecture provides the design to combine many development ideas and contributions from multiple disciplines to create a synergistic launch. It includes the entire launch environment from the macrolevel of selecting product features and communicating product benefits to the microlevel of developing the search engine optimization strategy. The characteristics of the budget, product, company, and the market drive the decisions about the specific launch architecture design that will be developed.

The goal of the launch plan is to ensure that the proper resources are enlisted (from the set of all possible resources) and that the proper components (such as the appropriate product and effective advertising) can be produced and orchestrated for maximum impact. Launch architecture can be developed in the ideation phase or in parallel with the very early traditional engineering activities. It is an endgame or reverse engineering approach to new product development.

After several iterations to understand the potential of a new product or service idea, a launch architect combines their extensive knowledge from disciplines that range from engineering sciences to social sciences to create an innovative launch design. Ideally, this begins with a "clean slate" - an unprejudiced view. With input from domain specialists, other developers, and management, the launch architect iterates the launch design and develops the proper schedules, milestones, and checklists. The goal is to integrate the contributions from multiple disciplines.

Better interactions between team members lead to better launch results. The launch architect develops the launch architecture after communicating with the product champion and the initial candidates for the project team. In a launch-centric approach, the product launch objectives are created very early in the development process because the objectives are the starting points for the launch plans. Feedback from the launch deliverables is used to refine the launch objectives. Preliminary results are evaluated from viewpoints represented by personas (such as end user, buyer, sales representative, and distributor representative). At the same time, the activities of the individual contributors are orchestrated to produce the appropriate launch deliverables. The launch design guides decisions regarding team composition and highlights opportunities for collaboration. The composition of the team changes when the tasks change.

Partial mindmap for better launch architecture

Launch architecture is symbiotic with processes such as Stage-Gate®. Launch architecture provides 'what to do next' guidance for developers. Stage-Gate provides a formalized perspective for management to review progress and fund future development.

Launch Architecture encourages synergy

One trend in new product development is the increased reliance on multi-disciplinary, geographically dispersed teams. What are some of the ways that teams to become more efficient? Two ways addressed by launch architecture are selecting the appropriate team members for the task and creating the design that facilitates collaboration. Another benefit is that individuals do more than just 'turn in their assignment."

Development synergy: the positive incremental performance gain of the development team that is greater than the predicted performance of the individual developers working together.

Opportunities for synergy during development include:

  • Using the same prototypes and feedback, the selection of features can be evaluated by both engineering and advertising. Contrast this with a 'build it then learn to sell it approach.'
  • Cooperation between a technical writer and an interface designer can lead to improved usability. Contrast this with a 'build it then document the user tasks afterwards approach.'
  • Evolution of ideas between individuals not just sharing of project files

Contrasting Launch Architecture and Development Experience Design

Launch Architecture provides a framework for individual contributors to refine and implement. The goal of Development Experience (DX) Design is to enhance the capabilities of individual contributors in new product development networks. Both efforts can occur simultaneously.

To learn more about Launch Architecture

Ideally, the team leader will have the breadth of up-to-date skills to create a comprehensive launch design. When extra help is needed, OpLaunch advocates designating a launch specialist to serve as an advisor to the product manager or team leader. Together, they collaborate to develop the launch architecture.

OpLaunch is the first company to offer launch architecture services. A Launch Architecture seminar is available. If you are interested in learning how this innovative approach can maximize the success of your next product development effort, please e-mail or call Mark A Hart at 724 258 8231.

Note: OpLaunch founder, Mark A Hart coined the phrases “launch architect” and "launch architecture" in November 2006.