Steps to a SUCCESSFUL project and product launch

2017 Update: I’ve been using the 4D Model for 9 years and it’s still bullet proof. I recently adapted this for “website redesigns” in case you’re looking for some help in that area. See my steps for a successful website redesign.

Everywhere around me, people talk about being an online community manager and being a community evangelist and how to deploy a successful online community. But, I think they’re (and me too) are getting ahead of themselves. There are some important Project Management skills and knowledge that you must have to be a successful manager.

The 4 Phases for any project/product launch are: Define, Design, Develop, and Deploy. These are critical milestones in every project that must be accounted for and documented in the critical path.


  • Define organizational and project objectives – LISTEN to goals, EVALUATE and audit, ANALYZE data, RESEARCH solution, create a NEEDS assessment proposal
  • Define success criteria, project benchmarks
  • Competitive/Industrial Analysis (if required)
  • Define budget and cost
  • Develop communication protocols and expectations


  • Build prototype or demo to test assumptions
  • Develop architecture and navigation (design and look/feel)
  • Develop technical design and infrastructure
  • Test prototype usability and functionality
  • Review progress in relation to project benchmarks


  • Complete design based on client’s feedback
  • Develop main sections and subsections from copy provided by client
  • Test functionality
  • Review progress in relation to project benchmarks


  • Coordinate offline advertising and marketing
  • Deploy statistical tracking software
  • Develop Meta tag code and search engine strategy
  • Launch site line online
  • Provide training and support
  • Monitor success

Now that the phases are set, these should be incorporated with the Project Plan. The typical plan is the critical path, which is the absolute minimum steps to finish the project on time. However, in order for the critical path to be successful it must take into account the following:

  • The comprehensiveness of the work plan
  • The correctness of the ordering of tasks and lags
  • The accuracy of individual task-duration estimates

Steps to creating a Critical Path:

  1. Identify tasks necessary to complete the project.
  2. Estimate the duration of the various tasks in the network.
  3. Identify task dependencies.
  4. Draw a network that depicts the order in which various tasks can be executed.
  5. Identify the critical path by adding up the duration of the tasks along each path and determining which path of the network will take the most time to complete.

Some like to not only create a critical path, but an “Adjusted Critical Path” which incorporates a contingency plan as well. This is a great way to help foresee any problems that could arise and allow time for damage control.

Now that all of the planning is out of the way, a project manager must communicate with all members involved (developers, PMMs, Business Owners) via weekly meetings. Meetings are very important because they check the overall status of the project, can identify roadblocks, and ensure everything is on track. Since meetings are very important and should be efficient, here’s some tips…

Tips on running successful meetings:

  • Planning a meeting
    • Set objectives for the meeting
    • Decide how long the meeting will last
    • Provide an agenda beforehand
    • Decide who will attend
  • Running a meeting
    • Start the meeting on-time
    • Manage the meeting efficiently and stick to the agenda (do not introduce new topics that will confuse anyone)
    • Assign action items
    • Document actions
    • Summarize key points from the meeting in Meeting Minutes

These are rules and tips that have helped me, but I’m sure you have other tips as well.  Please feel free to share your thoughts with me!