Your global launch team may well be made up of some spectacularly intelligent, highly experienced and highly educated individuals, yet we often see them spend a lot of time manually collecting and consolidating data from markets – doing what is in effect an admin job – to gain visibility of status across markets. Clearly this is not the best use of their talent, but who else is going to complete those necessary yet mundane jobs?
Let’s take the example of two global launch teams and see how they get on with various tasks. Janet heads up a global launch team that uses a digital launch tool, tailored to their needs, which facilitates launch planning and tracking online. David heads up another global launch team using Excel templates to plan and track their launch readiness efforts.
Task 1: Gain visibility of status at country level
David needs to personally chase teams each month for updates on current status and timelines via email and phone. When he finally receives the relevant Excel files from all his 74 country teams, he then needs to import these into a global Excel tracking tool. However, before he can do that, he needs to tidy up the data, as some markets have decided to change the Excel templates that were meant to be locked down.
Once all the data is formatted consistently, David then needs to interpret and consolidate the data to gain an overview of launch readiness at a country level and identify where there are risks of delays and pitfalls. Finally he prepares suitable reports on global launch readiness for his product including senior management presentations.
All in all this can easily take him a week per month.
In her digital launch tool, Janet has a launch dashboard that is constantly updated as country teams individually update their status and timelines. The tool provides her with full visibility of status across markets and functional areas.
She uses the dashboards in the tool to guide her decision-making and their data visualisation helps identify potential roadblocks early on and address these with the country teams she is supporting. The tool also draws her attention to countries that are at risk of having to delay their launch dates and displays the potential financial implications the delay will have.
She does not spend time on admin tasks such as chasing markets for updates and collecting and consolidating data, instead focusing her time on strategic work supported by real-time data.
Task 2: Ensuring alignment of global and local plans
David has finally finalised his team’s global launch plan in Excel having negotiated a few versioning control issues and consolidated the planning data into one master plan. He then prepares a version of the global plan for regional and country teams to ensure that they have visibility of milestones at global level that affects them when planning their own timelines.
He then uploads the Excel files, to be shared with regional and country teams, to the SharePoint team page that all regional and country teams can access. In addition, he sends out an email to the country launch leads that he knows about, asking them to cascade the information down to the relevant members of their team.
The country teams then develop their launch plans with certain tasks dependent on global milestones. When changes to global milestones occur, they are communicated via email to the country teams and, again, this information is (hopefully) cascaded down to individual team members.
However, when David makes the decision to change a due date for a global deliverable, he has no visibility of the impact this will have on launch dates in different countries that depend upon this deliverable, and the resulting financial implications of the delay.
Janet’s digital launch tool provides an online collaborative space where she can work on her sections of the plan simultaneously with other colleagues with no risk of versioning control issues. The country teams are working in the same online tool, and relevant data from the global plan, such as milestones related to the completion of a global value dossier, automatically and seamlessly flows (cascades) into the country plans.
The countries can then create dependencies on global milestones in their country plan and they are constantly kept updated on timelines and status. For example, if a due date on a global milestone is changed, the countries affected are automatically notified via email and through their personal dashboard in the tool.
When Janet changes the due date of a global milestone, the digital launch planning tool makes her aware of which countries are dependent on that milestone, whether the change will impact on the launch dates for any of those countries, and, if so, what the financial implication of the change would be.
Task 3: Facilitating collaboration between teams
David spends a lot of time facilitating collaboration and coordinating activities between functional teams at global level, and across countries. A team page in SharePoint has been setup to share relevant documents and best practices. He has spent a lot of time devising a logical folder structure for the files and sent numerous emails to both global and country teams to encourage them to share best practice as well as insights and data that may be of interest to other teams.
David must monitor this and hassle team members about communication and information sharing, constantly chasing for updates.
Janet does not have to spend time facilitating collaboration. She simply collaborates.
She shares comments and files related to the milestones and activities in the global launch plan through the Chatter system in her digital launch tool, taking part in discussions with colleagues where appropriate or necessary.
Task 4: Compiling reports
David is busy chasing his global and country teams for their status updates and timelines, so that he can get started putting together his monthly reports and create a presentation for his steering group meeting.
Janet already has all of the information from her country teams laid out in her digital launch tool. All the information is completely up-to-date at all times in her intuitive dashboards, each tailored to her reporting needs.
She simply selects the dashboards and data she needs for the steering group meeting and generates an attractive and easy-to-read report together with her presentation slides directly from the tool.
Senior management can access dashboards tailored to their needs at any time, and they provide visibility of launch status and timelines across the entire portfolio. They can therefore come better informed to the steering group meeting and Janet can focus on strategy in her preparations.
If you’re facing the same frustrations as David in your day-to-day role and want to find a more effective solution, a digital tool like the one Janet’s using could be the answer.
“Our key challenge is to ensure that brand strategy teams actually have time to focus on strategy. They’re too busy with non-strategic tasks.”
- Programme Manager, Global Pharma Company
A launch planning and tracking tool, tailored to the needs and processes of your company, can automate the mundane admin tasks such as:
- Chasing markets for updates and collect data
- Consolidating data from markets in real-time to provide dashboard views of status and timelines
- Preparing reports and presentations
- Alerting relevant stakeholders where there is a risk of delay
A good digital launch readiness tool does a lot of the tedious heavy lifting, allowing your launch team to get on with what they are good at and what delivers value: focusing on their strategic tasks which include optimising your launch and improving the quality of execution.
Without a digital launch tool that’s tailored to your needs you will struggle to achieve the visibility, alignment, and collaboration across functional areas and across countries that is required for an optimised launch. Moreover, you will spend days doing mundane admins tasks, leaving you short on time to focus on the true strategic challenges.
For more advice on optimising your launch strategy, download our free guide and discover how to improve launch planning and tracking with a tailored digital tool.