November 30, 2023

How to successfully launch an internal app – a guide in eight steps

Launching an internal app is exhilarating, but equally stressful. You want to ensure high adoption rates, but you are concerned employees might reject your app. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to fuel adoption and engagement. 

Nothing beats seeing your hard work come together as employees embrace the app you made to make their jobs easier. This article will take you a step closer to that feeling with eight key steps for a successful internal app launch.

Let’s jump in!

How do you launch a product internally?

Launching an internal product requires clear objectives and target audiences, value propositions, frictionless onboarding, and a lot of hype. You can do a pre-launch that encompasses four parts to achieve these things.

Pre-launch steps to get people on board

Your journey starts with a pre-launch. A pre-launch will help assure app readiness with a pilot programme, collect feedback, create hype and boost product visibility, ensuring that everyone in your company is on the same page.

A pilot programme is crucial to app success, helping you collect feedback and identify problems before your app reaches users. You can use your findings to improve the app and establish best practices to prime your app for adoption.

Create a beta group to test drive your app and enlist product champions to market your app and drive interest in the product. Invite volunteers to try your app and collect feedback to improve your application before release.

Success rests on the way you communicate the change to employees. You need to be concise and communicate the benefits of your product so that employees understand why you are making the change and how it helps them.

Avoid generic words like “revolutionary” and phrases like “a better way to do things” because these can turn people away. “A new tool that will make your job easier” is better than “a new tool that will transform how you work”.

Company leaders should play a lead role in this, communicating with the department to share how the new technology is beneficial.

Also, don’t neglect external communication. PR plays a big role in internal app launches because it publicly backs up internal communication. Showcasing the change to the outside world is a great way to get people on board.

Segmenting users that fit specific criteria to create target audiences will ensure your messaging and app features resonate with users. It also serves the practical purpose of letting you fine-tune your messaging by department.

For example, you can tell sales that your app saves them time on paperwork, you can tell marketing that it saves them time on campaign management, and you can tell HR that it saves them time on hiring new people.

You can also take individual features, such as cloud uploads and in-app collaboration, and use workflow examples to get different departments on board.

Hype is the engine behind every successful app launch. It will ensure your employees not only know about your app but want to download and use it.

There are several ways you can create hype:

  • Start a countdown
  • Share sneak peeks and teasers
  • Share your brand vision and how the product fits in
  • Take your team through the product with visuals
  • Create teaser videos
  • Offer a beta version of the app to department heads
  • Work with department heads to communicate the benefits

Ensuring a smooth, successful launch 

With hype in full swing and confidence in your product, it’s time to launch. The risk following launch is low adoption rates as only the most engaged employees use it, but there are several ways you can reduce this risk.

Invite all your employees to an event celebrating the launch of your product. You can increase attendance by letting people attend in person or remotely via video link, and those who miss it can watch it afterwards.

An event could be as simple as a get together at work, or you can book a big screen with a stage like a Steve Jobs announcement for Apple.

Because your product is for employees, the event should be too. Put on food and drinks and generate lots of buzz about your product and brand.

6. Training and demos 

One of the most significant barriers to app adoption is training. Your employees are more likely to use your app if they know the basics; however, delivering in-person training is slow and risks alienating many employees.

The solution? Training and demo videos. A series of training and demo videos that are always accessible will deliver knowledge and skills efficiently, ensuring that your employees are ready to use your app after adopting it.

Publishing videos on the cloud is the best way to guarantee access, and you can turn them into a series with tutorials and demos covering different areas.

Post-launch steps to fuel engagement

Following the launch of your app, adoption rates will explode and then gently fizzle out as employees use it. Your job now is to maintain user engagement and ensure everyone gets maximum value from the app.

Despite your best efforts, early-stage excitement in your product will wane. The key now is to maintain engagement and keep people enthusiastic.

Internal product advocacy is essential, but the product manager can only do so much. Internal advocates are vital to ensuring that your product’s vision and goals continue to progress and deliver value to employees.

The job of product advocates is to focus on and clarify the benefits of the app and the problems it solves. In other words, product advocates maintain focus in your app so that users continue to see and find value in it.

One of the biggest mistakes businesses makes post-launch is letting the app sit there and stagnate. Your internal app has to evolve and continue providing the best possible user experience to maintain engagement and user satisfaction.

Here are a few ways to keep things exciting:

  • Let users request features
  • Let people vote for the next new feature
  • Survey users to collect performance feedback
  • Produce tips and tricks videos and articles
  • Test new fonts and layouts with beta versions
  • Keep adding new features that enrich the user experience

Conclusion 

Efforts like these will help ensure a smooth app launch and significantly increase adoption and engagement rates. However, the biggest challenge is ensuring your product’s vision and goals are met over time.

A chain is only as strong as the weakest link. You need a product strategy that encompasses pre-launch, launch, and post-launch cycles for app success. Taking a systematic approach is the best way to keep users around for the long haul.

Indu Behera

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