Personally, I was involved in several botched launches of grand software and hardware releases in public companies (some of them really blue chips). Internally we knew it was too early and should not go in production for several reasons :
- the clients lost track of the changes they were asking for and their personnel changes mangled the real requirements
- there was not a real understanding of how many users will really be at launch time or in the next days; we were expecting a soft launch and got hit really hard
- QA done by “manual labor”
- discovered too late …
- discovered too late that “speed” is not where it was required; scrambling with the architecture of the version 2.0
- discovered too late the “volume” is not even mildldy scalable; back to redesign while the customers were complaining
- people brought late in the project to reach the timeline; how can they integrate in already a few hundred thousand lines of code ?
- mix of technologies but lack of skills; each wave of contractors brought in something different not really embraced by the whole team
All those motives where not powerful enough or said with conviction to the clients of the project or not even envisioned (sometimes) by the development teams. As always, words promised on business side have weight over so many “soft concerns”.
I have to admit, that I encountered occasions where launch was a saving moment, even with all fears not forcefully declared. We stole competitors’ face and create a precedent, all others products were “me too” launches. On a blank market, a defective product is better than none. Other times, one of the features eclipsed the bugs and stole the show. Sometimes is enough to throw it out there and let the customers decide …
There were cases when the customer (re)invented the product in something different but with really good demand. They drove us through features and mock-ups that made it a success.
The drawing line is, you have to be present and screaming in order to sell and make your product known (even when bugs are really crawling).