How do you obtain early feedback on prospective product release?

Have you ever faced a situation where you as a product professional think you have taken all the right steps and released a feature but somehow the response from the sales/presales and potential customers is lukewarm? I have definitely witnessed such situations in my early Product Management career.

In most companies once the requirements are frozen the prototyping work is either skipped or not given the importance it deserves. What happens then is that the sales/presales and everybody else (even the Product Manager or Product Owner) sees the product just when product is about to get released. Of course, this may not be true for startup or recently started product but can definitely happen in organizations where product has matured and product development community believes that they understand how the user uses the product. I am not here to say that the development community is right or wrong but instead I advocate that it is responsibility of the Product Manager or Product Owner to make sure that the product release meets the requirement and user expectations without getting biased about anything.

The recommended approach for obtaining early feedback on prospective product release is depicted in the picture below. Instead of making this a formal process I recommend product professionals first understand and get convinced on why such review mechanism is required and then negotiate with implementation teams to have such reviews. Of course, some reviews can be made formal but most of these reviews can be done informally without making too much fuss about the process. Of course Product Manager or Product Owner can expect some hiccups here and there but I believe that as long as the implementation team understands the intent of such reviews they wouldn’t hesitate to make them happen.


Release Feedback

Figure: Prospective Product Release – Implementation Review Approach

Again, this is what I do and would recommend, what approach do you follow to obtain early feedback on prospective product release?