As we have mentioned before, the key to a truly successful pilot, one where customer expectations are achieved or hopefully exceeded, is that goals need to be measurable and agreed upon before the pilot begins. Customer expectations must be understood. “Successful” has very different meanings in different circumstances; and if you and your customer have different definitions, the outcome of the pilot won’t matter. One side is going to be very disappointed.
For instance, what if one classroom used your product and liked it but told their colleagues that it had a huge start-up cost? My guess is the customer would call the pilot successful (solved her problem), but she is not helping your company to scale across the school, district, or department. Or, perhaps your company is monitoring usage data and can report long periods of time when students are active in the product. Your company may view that as a successful student engagement, but the teacher is weighing whether the product value is deserving of the amount of student time being spent in it.
It is important to set the expectations of the customer—and we will talk about that in future posts—but it is just as important to set measurable goals for your company. This is your opportunity to see how your baby performs in the wild. And like any other parent, you will want to be close by. There are three areas to consider:
Validation--Create your checklist with a pilot point person for product and marketing teams. What parts of your value proposition do you want to validate in your pilot? How are you going to test them? How will you review content? Who (what roles) will need to review the content from the pilot side?
Discovery—Create situations that allow you to consider new information: How will you discover new uses of your product? How will you uncover opportunities to improve workflow? How will you know how secondary stakeholders (students, parents, Deans, Principals) react to your product?
Troubleshoot—Create this plan with a pilot point person for product development, engineering, customer service teams. Where are the expected bumps? How will you check for weak links in the purchasing, authorization and onboarding process? How will you handle bugs and glitches?
With a carefully planned set of goals and measures put in place to capture data, pilots can provide data and insight that will be invaluable as your bring your product to market. By organizing your feedback to validate, discover, and troubleshoot, you can keep your pilot focused and be able to produce the measurements that say to everyone “hey, this was a succss.”