It should only finish when the product is successfully afloat.
A major issue for product launches in many businesses is that the launch team and resources stick around up to the launch and then melt away just as the product is making its first faltering steps into the world.
All the focus, know-how and momentum stops at this critical point which often results in major problems. Issues that would be easy to solve with the launch team are much harder to resolve once all the infrastructure and experience have disappeared.
Source: Launch of Mauretania II, National Museums Liverpool
It’s nigh on impossible to get everything right upfront, there are always things that are missed or things that change so there will always be issues to sort out after the launch. The cost and time to do this should be planned into the development project right from the start. This needs the participation of all areas, including development, who shouldn’t be let off the hook until these early problems are resolved and the product can be treated as ‘business as usual’.
We believe there should always be another stage after launch where the development team remains engaged for a fixed period or until certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are met. These KPIs could include when a certain number of customers are up and running, the point at which no new major bugs are identified, or reaching a minimum level in customer satisfaction surveys. The cost of doing this is not insignificant however it has to be balanced against the cost of failure i.e. missed market opportunities, bad publicity, and dissatisfied customers.
Why spend all that money on building a product and pull away from the safety net at the last minute?
Director, Product Focus