Momentum Management

Our team is in the midst of releasing a new product.  We are releasing it initially to a minor (read small) customer set.  We are doing this to keep it simple and quick.  However, it turns out that it took much longer than expected.  Why?  

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Our team is in the midst of releasing a new product.  We are releasing it initially to a minor (read small) customer set.  We are doing this to keep it simple and quick.  However, it turns out that it took much longer than expected.  Why?  

In this case it comes down to momentum.  We've done much larger product releases, in shorter time.  By setting out initially saying that this would be a minor customer release it made it easy for us to fill in other things and share the focus.  Momentum was killed.  

This problem was exacerbated because it required a third party vendor to help us with something.  By us not keeping momentum internally, we couldn't keep on top of the third party to do their work.  In the end, this project slipped by 5-6 weeks.  Effectively almost doubling the time it should have taken.
 
We recognized that lost of momentum about 1 week ago.  With some hard work to get things back on track, the vendor is now done with their work, and we are set to launch the product to market soon.  
So, how do you keep the momentum?  
  1. Keeping the sprints short and keeping the non-development teams in short cycles of milestones.  
  2. Try to clear off other competing mind-share on the non-development teams (marketing, services, sales, etc..) for a very short period of time, and sprint on getting this one project done. 
  3. Keep the chatter high and communication high.  Do your "milk runs" with all the stakeholders.  Walk around and talk to the people.  
  4. If you keep hearing the same thing that are a blockers time and time again, that should be a read flag.  You have lost momentum.  
Small projects are the ones that are at the highest risk here.  Once you recognize the loss in momentum, it is the Product Managers job to refocus the teams, get the communication up and reset milestones in a shorter cycle.  Get that momentum back.