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The Worst that Could Happen

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Do you plan for the worst? Do you list out the worst things that could happen during your release and come up with ways to mitigate the risks? Do you have contingency plans if something does go wrong?

When putting together a product launch plan, you need to think through everything about what resources will be needed from engineering, QA, infrastructure and support. Many different types of media will be needed; marketing materials, training materials for internal use and help documentation for users, blog posts, social media posts and press releases.

I've always tried to think through all aspects of a launch and come up with plans for mitigating the largest risks but have never really thought about what are the absolute worst things that could happen.

What are the worst things that could happen when you launch a product? Click to tweet

Usually we think about the big items and leave edge cases as just that, a possibility but nowhere near likely to occur. When I managed a FinTech product it wasn't such a big deal. My product didn't have any regulatory or compliance issues to deal with and the worst that could happen is a formula was bad or the product quit unexpectedly.

I've since moved into life sciences tech and digital health products and I'm getting ready to launch an analytics product and my manager asked me to think about things from a different perspective. What are the worst things that could happen when we launch this analytics product? I don't think my boss was expecting me to have an answer right away but for me the worst case scenario that has kept me up at night thinking about the upcoming product launch is ending up on the top half of the front page of the Wall Street Journal. You might be thinking that's a bit extreme but the analytics my product will display comes from patient data. So if we have a problem with this product and there is a data breach or leak of protected health information (PHI), we'd have to report it to corporate, the federal government, the press, the patients whose data was leaked and who knows who else. Something like that ends up above the fold of the front page of the WSJ.

Product Managers in life sciences tech, health tech and digital health need to think through the 5 worst things that could happen with the launch of a product. A data leak is harmful but it doesn't directly impact someone's health and well-being. There are products in this space that could directly affect someone's health if something goes wrong. If a wearable device meant for monitoring heart rate or SpO2 were to malfunction and not accurately report, for a sick person there could be real harm as a result.

The stakes are definitely higher in the areas I've been discussing. There are definitely regulatory and compliance issues to contend with as well as the more basic idea that a real person's life could be impacted.

#digitalhealth #prodmgmt #healthtech #wearabletech

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