Time to launch, time to market is a very crucial milestone for a new enterprise software product. No, it should not be done ASAP. There are some hard lessons we learnt which are now part of our strategy.
Version 1.0 should be released at a stage when team is confident on the dev and QA efforts. You don’t want new clients to knock for hot fixes when major architecture revamp or database cleanup is ongoing. Make sure sufficient load and performance testing is also done, not just functional part.
FRIENDLY USERS or EARLY ADOPTERS
Lets agree to the fact that there are going to be issues when a product goes live with version 1.0. No matter how much dev and QA efforts are put in, there will still be issues which a product will come across only when it goes live. So, you need user base to try the new product. Every user or client does not fall into this category and you should not force them to. You need to identify Early Acceptors
- who have the patience and excitement to try new product
- will give good, genuine feedback to improve the product
- are ok to take financial loss if any
- can afford to spare some time and indulge themselves rather than delegating to someone
This is a very standard practice followed by all new products, until substantial FRIENDLY USERS are satisfied with the product, keep the product under the carpets. By nature, majority of users are made for Version 2.0 only. Being in stealth mode helps keep marketing pressure and support challenges at bay while the team works towards a stabler Version 2.0
Try to match launch of versions 1.0 and 2.0 along with some change in market scenario. When something is changing in market, number and patience of early adopters increases. If the product is good and performs positive with market change, you will not need to spend on Marketing efforts. Word of mouth works better than anything.
Make sure to have proper support escalation matrix to service the 1.0 clients. There should be no communication gaps, full transparency should be there with the clients. Team needs to be responsive, available and truthful towards the clients. Any issues should be accepted, prioritised and fixed with earliest possible turnaround time. Unplanned releases, hot fixes should be delivered in flying time to keep client’s confidence and quickly reach 2.0 stage.