Microsoft's Information Worker Business and Marketing Organization (IW BMO) is responsible for the launch of 2010 products in Microsoft's U.S. subsidiary.
Branded as the U.S. IW Wave 14 Launch, the IW BMO identified an experienced Product Manager to lead this launch of Office, SharePoint, Project, and Visio as well as Exchange Server, SQL Server, and Visual Studio.
Pcubed's program management expertise and understanding of the Microsoft corporate landscape leveraged to help create and drive an innovative product launch approach.
Microsoft's U.S. Information Worker Business Marketing Organization (IW BMO) Wave 14 Launch team was charged with executing a strategically critical product launch - and doing it successfully with fewer central resources. Success depended on the team's effectiveness at reaching out widely across the company and integrate launch into existing mechanisms for running the business - annual business goals, budgets, and personal objectives.
Focusing on doing more with existing budgets and activities, the team's execution had to reinforce the new reality that launch cannot be viewed as a particular point in time; it has sustaining activities across fiscal years. Additionally, the following challenges needed to be addressed during launch program definition and set-up and throughout launch execution:
- Balancing the independent needs of a broad group of stakeholders
- Maintaining visibility and oversight of a fast moving portfolio of marketing initiatives and activities
- Linking marketing spend to tangible outcomes
- Executing at the optimal level of program management rigor for a marketing organization
- Addressing increased competition in the market place
- Aligning and synchronizing with world-wide strategies
Guiding principles helped the team build an effective launch program management environment to drive a smooth execution:
- Get an early start
- Engage executives early - ensure executive sponsorship
- Align to company goals
- Execute through influence
- Drive accountability
- Plan communications, set expectations
To address these challenges, the U.S. IW BMO partnered with Pcubed to setup and operate the Wave 14 Launch Program Management Office (PMO).
The Wave 14 Launch PMO reinforced fundamental program management discipline across a large, dynamic, launch team to drive accountability across three launch work streams, 18 launch work areas, and hundreds of marketing activities.
Targeted outcomes included fulfilling Launch Business Objectives with reduced redundancy across program work streams - enabled by effective engagement and coordination across launch team members, executives, launch ambassadors, and three advisory councils.
Pcubed's program management expertise and understanding of the Microsoft corporate landscape was leveraged to help create and drive an innovative product launch approach executed around three work streams targeting their unique launch objectives while aligning to a common launch mission and overarching launch business objectives.
This strategy helped the Wave 14 Launch PMO team engage the launch team and key stakeholders to build a "We're All In" launch environment.
A Successful Product Launch Delivered
|Definition & Setup
To ensure the smooth execution of this innovative launch approach, a significant emphasis was put on planning for the launch. Activities included creating the W14 Launch PMO, chartering the Wave 14 Launch team, and setting up the governance framework, communications mechanisms, and technology platform to support launch execution.
The Wave 14 Launch PMO guided execution of launch activities through the Wave 14 Launch Team. Wave 14 Launch Team members owned and drove launch-focused initiatives and activities in their respective areas. The Wave 14 Launch PMO worked closely with the Launch Program Manager to provide effective governance of launch activities, coordination of stakeholder involvement, and cross-team collaboration through the launch. Key principles of this innovative launch approach adopted by Microsoft include:
- Portfolio management is at the heart of the launch. To identify and prioritize additional funding opportunities, existing "in flight" marketing projects that may have connections with the launch were assessed against launch strategy and value back to the organization.
- Launch is more than a point in time. The portfolio of launch-related marketing initiatives is tuned to deliver an ongoing customer connection, beyond any launch date.
- Everybody is "all in." Although a core launch team keeps its eyes on the dashboard, the effort is really being driven in all corners of marketing, sales, and operations. The best advocates for getting the message to customers are Microsoft's own employees, whatever their role may be.
Following transition of the operational launch activity oversight to the business, perceptions and recommendations were solicited from the launch team and executive stakeholders through surveys and meetings. Lessons earned focused on the business successes of the launch and the management successes of the launch and recommendations for improvement were compiled and executive stakeholders were debriefed on the launch results.
The Launch Team's approach - enabled with key elements of the solution - made launch a core part of everyone's business plan, helping Microsoft execute this launch across its U.S. Subsidiary and realize the following benefits:
- Smaller Centralized Budget and Staff - By effectively engaging launch team members to drive launch activities through their existing business plans, the Wave 14 Launch PMO was able to drive success with a smaller centralized launch budget and core team. Centralized launch funds were strategically infused into the launch work streams to optimize marketing return for specific marketing activities.
- Business-focused Results - Progress against clearly defined business-focused measures within each launch work stream were tracked through the launch, providing stakeholders with complete awareness of launch goals and progress.
- Executive Engagement and Launch Communications - Building on early executive engagement during program definition and setup, the Wave 14 Launch PMO drove ongoing executive awareness and sponsorship of launch activities. This was complimented with a wide spectrum of effective launch communications managed to target specific launch stakeholder groups and ensure a timely and accurate dissemination of information to those who needed it.
- Marketing Program Management Environment - The Wave 14 Launch PMO coordinated efforts across the launch team and leveraged existing business operations and marketing engines. Together, the launch team coordinated oversight of launch delivery execution, managing to the launch plan to achieve targeted results with "no surprises" - driving the right level of rigor to maintain visibility and momentum of launch-related marketing activities.
- Visibility and Technology Enablement - The interactive Launch Pcubed DeliveryHub™ provided visibility of hundreds of marketing activities in the launch portfolio across three launch work streams and 18 launch work area as well as the marketing impact of launch KPIs. Critical requests from the field were tracked and managed, enabling the Launch Team to effectively respond to the requests originating from anyone outside of the launch team.
By leveraging proven activities and established marketing engines, Microsoft has created the ability to sustain momentum with customers beyond the initial release of the 2010 suite of products. Wave 14 Launch best practices are being leveraged for Online Services launch, Microsoft's Central Marketing Group, and Communications Server launch activities.