The months of preparation are in the past. It’s time to launch.
By now, you’ve accomplished so much:
- You’ve built a rock-solid strategic foundation
- Your team is fully aligned with your launch objectives
- You have a strong value story, a solid brand strategy and a thoroughly vetted launch plan
- Each cross-functional workstream is committed to the overall plan and its own 12-week execution plan
- You’re prepared with verifiable accountability measures
- Launch readiness meetings are scheduled, reporting mechanisms are set and every pre-launch box is checked
You have the green light—and now the excitement really begins!
Ensuring a laser focus
Studies have shown that, for 85% of pharma products, the launch trajectory is set within the first three to six months. That means there’s literally no time to waste. None at all.
This is the moment that each aspect of the launch, from supply and demand chains to the most specific tactics, get underway all at once.
This is the moment for team-wide laser focus on every detail, on ensuring that everything you’ve planned is implemented with optimal effect.
To ensure optimal implementation, we recommend creating and using an action plan that breaks the overall launch plan into its component parts. The action plan is a day-by-day—even hour-by-hour—agenda that specifies exactly what must happen during the first weeks after approval. The plan document identifies all of the cross-functional teams and specifies the individual duties and responsibilities for each team member within each task.
The action plan needs to be prepped and ready immediately upon approval. This is a challenge because the plan must be produced in advance of the launch date; yet it can’t be finalized until just before approval is granted, so that there is as little room as possible for unforeseen factors to arise and circumstances to change.
When creating the action plan, managers must make it as bulletproof as possible. Long-standing assumptions should be challenged. Accepted processes should be questioned. The launch team should ask itself why tasks can’t be implemented sooner and/or more effectively. Press the sales team—why can’t they start selling on day one? Press the manufacturing team—why can’t supply of the product be available immediately after approval?
Using this planning process to forge the most creative yet compliant solution, your launch might exceed expectations right from the get go.
Extending the plan’s power
This kind of detailed action plan can be extraordinarily valuable. And, when the plan includes mandatory daily check-in meetings, your launch can reach something that is truly rare—a maximal level of accountability. A detailed plan, plus formal meetings, can keep individuals on task and the workstreams consistently and continuously aligned throughout the launch period.
Of course, the culture in some organizations may call for less rigorous, less formal meetings. Either way, as long as regular check-ins are held, you’ll be able to routinely see what teams have accomplished, what issues have come up, and what needs to be done next.
Using “fail fast” methodology
And yet, even when your planning and readiness and accountability have been outstandingly managed; even when you’re convinced you have the right strategy and tactics; even when market testing shows the mindset and the messages are right on target …
Even then, launches rarely proceed exactly as planned.
Because of that reality, we recommend the fail fast/succeed faster methodology. Fail fast is designed to cut losses when a tactic or approach isn’t working. Organizations use this method when jettisoning fast failures seems more likely to achieve the desired result versus taking the time to perfect the solution.
With fail fast, key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to identify poor performing tactics as quickly as possible. Then, the team has to be willing to acknowledge the failure and move on. Simply put, teams have to see the problem, course correct, and implement a revised solution.
That’s why effective measurement is so vital.
Tracking launch performance
Measuring your success is essential from the start of your launch, and this is especially true when using the fail fast methodology. Here are some KPIs your team should track in a highly verifiable way from the moment launch implementation begins:
- Brand awareness
- Payer perceptions
- Barriers to prescribing
- Message effectiveness
- Sales team training effectiveness
- Share of voice in relevant publications
- Number of contacts with opinion leader and/or prescribers
- Social media engagement
The above metrics are called “leading” indicators—that is, these indicators help predict future performance. Obviously, tracking the trends shown by these indicators is not only vital as early in the launch as possible, they should be monitored throughout the launch period.
However, we also recommend measuring “lag” indicators—those that show actual results of past actions. You can start checking these retrospective measures within weeks after your initial launch date. Lag indicators can include items such as market share; the extent of penetration into opinion leader and/or prescriber populations; number of prescriptions written in a given time period; refill rates; and many other measures.
You can achieve consistent excellence
Consistency is the key to overall organizational excellence. That’s why so many leading organizations rely on CMK Select when they plan and implement their product launches. We use a tried, tested and proven methodology designed to optimize each product’s trajectory. Contact CMK Select today to learn more.