Luis Goncalves
Last updated on | Agile Portfolio Management

Time to Market: How your Company Can Keep Launching New Products and Features Ahead of Your Competition

by Luís Gonçalves
time to market

Time to Market: How your Company Can Keep Launching New Products and Features Ahead of Your Competition

Companies like Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft have proven that innovation is the key to greatness. That’s why most businesses put a significant premium on it. However, just coming out with innovative products or new features is not enough. Companies also have to make sure their products and services reach the market in time. After all, it’s a cutthroat world out there and delaying the launch of a product can have serious repercussions, especially since a product’s novelty diminishes quickly.

Since it’s essential for your business to get your innovative new products out to the market before your competitors do, it’s imperative that you learn and understand the idea of Time to Market.

Importance of Time to Market

Time to Market (TTM) refers to the period that a company needs to develop a product and launch it. This duration includes the generation of ideas, designing, developing and testing it, and introducing it to consumers.  The more organised and efficient your business’ product development system is, the more effective you’ll be at scheduling the time to market. This can also help you develop plans on how to release the product at the appropriate time and place.

The concept of Time to Market is also known as Speed to Market (STM). There are several reasons why TTM is the key deciding element on whether a new product or service will become successful. First, the majority of companies invest in innovations, albeit with different levels of importance. Second, putting off developing your improvements or ideas gives your competitors an edge over you. Next, remember that most innovations or product enhancements depend on technology or are enabled by it. Technology changes at a rapid pace and taking the long road with your products could mean that by the time it hits the market, it’s already redundant. Lastly, there’s a small window of opportunity for the optimal pricing of a product, and this window shrinks slowly every day. Once an enhanced product or feature or improved service becomes mainstream, it will no longer provide high returns.

Understanding the Difference Between Resource Efficiency and Flow Efficiency

Resource efficiency or Flow efficiency? Companies have to choose the ideal work system for them in order for their departments to work well and come up with the innovations they need. But to do so, one needs to understand the difference between resource efficiency and flow efficiency.

Resource efficiency is the system wherein the work flows from one employee to the other. This system regards each employee as a specialist, the only person capable of doing a particular job. Every person in a resource efficient company is fully optimised and utilised. However, it also means that whatever task that has to be done or feature to be developed can only be done when the specialist finally gets around to it. This method typically results in a “cost of delay” as employees wait for the other to accomplish their duties first before they can even start on their own tasks.

Flow efficiency focuses on the opposite. Instead of individual employees, this system concentrates on the whole team. This means that every team member is a specialist so even if one member is missing, the work can still continue. This process admittedly tends to be slower because every member has the same skills and degree of expertise. However, this method guarantees that the project will be finished on time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. Resource efficiency is all about optimising the employee’s skills while flow efficiency optimises the features the team is developing. The former method can cause work queues to pile up if the member in charge of the product hits a roadblock or works slowly. Meanwhile, the rest of the members will probably commence working on other features or tasks that they can do. This can lead to multi-tasking and additional stress when the deadline draws near and crucial functions or elements are still unfinished.

The scenario is different with flow efficiency. Because the whole team is on even ground and works together, they also accomplish things together. For instance, one member can work on the UI while another can commence developing automated tests that do not need a fully functioning UI yet. The progress might be slow, but the team will definitely have a sense of accomplishment as the project moves forward slowly and steadily.

3 Advantages of Improving Your Company’s Time to Market

Regardless of whether your company is utilising the flow efficiency or resource efficiency process, improving Time to Market is still the end goal.

The duration of your company’s Time to Market can have a major impact on a product’s success. Businesses and product design departments these days misuse 40% or more of their supplies or resources, which causes delays. The majority of wasted resources is because of inefficiency, like repetitive work, redundant administrative paperwork, unnecessary product features, inferior product roll-outs or poor information management. What makes it worse is that 80% of a company’s data (social media accounts, emails, videos, photos) are complicated and disorganised while the needed tools do not give the appropriate support.

It’s therefore critical for a company to speed up its time to market. Doing so can result in these three advantages:

  • Economical Managerial Procedures: Creating a steady timeline lets your company’s key team streamline and manage production time and cost as well as develop schedules based on headcount planning and lead time.
  • Improve Revenue Margin:  Your business will enjoy improved revenue margins as new products and services are released earlier than expected and it meets what the market demands.
  • Gives You a Leg Up Over Your Competitors: A solid speed to market pace will provide you with a leg over your competitors while providing you with the opportunity to maximise new technology. Your company will also be exposed to more market opportunities and hopefully secure higher market shares.

5 Ways to Accelerate Time to Market

Time to market is undeniably very important to a business. What remains to be done now is to find ways on how you can speed it up. Here are some suggestions:

  • Mix Business With Technology: One mistake a lot of companies make is to keep their design and innovation bases separate from each other while key departments do not get involved in the design and development process. This slows down TTM and reduces the company’s drive to take risks. Get the different departments involved. Having their own stake in the process will boost time to market.
  • Select a Clear Revenue Target: Giving your innovation team a clear target – in financial terms – that they have to reach will spur them to try harder to succeed. Innovations are innately connected to the company’s business model so there should be a clear way to measure its success from a financial viewpoint. This will encourage teams to push for a faster TTM.
  • Make Good Use of Outsourcing Services: You can actually outsource all components of the TTM process aside for some critical areas. For instance, you can tap another company to identify what customers should be targeted, manage promotion channels, and come up with price points. Create a mutually beneficial ecosystem with supporting partners that can help roll out innovations and see your time to market go faster. 
  • Design Organized Workflows: Develop a workflow that lessens downtime and encourages efficiency. For instance, put a stop to compartmentalised departments and have a system wherein all workers can share their expertise openly.  
  • Find Ways to Track Results Effectively:  Ideally, every team member should be involved in the design and development process. One way to do this is to share information as this encourages collaboration and fluidity among teams. Bear in mind that gathering and sharing crucial and real-time information helps the various innovation teams develop agility and make good decisions quickly and efficiently.

The odds that your company will succeed grows the more you can reduce Time to Market for innovations. A fast TTM means consumers will receive your product faster, giving you a big advantage over your competitors. So think carefully about whether your company should opt for resource efficiency or flow efficiency as this will impact how your innovations will be handled.

Successful companies are based on five pillars: the ability to reduce time to market, connecting strategy to daily operations, having an environment of continuous improvement, creating an environment of sharing knowledge and drive innovation. Analyse these 5 areas in your organisation right now to find out how close your organisation is from achieving fantastic results.

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Luís Gonçalves

About Luís Gonçalves

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LuisGonçalves1979

Luis Gonçalves is an Entrepreneur, Author & International Keynote Speaker. He works with Senior Executives to implement his ‘Organisational Mastery’ system so they can greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their organisations; enabling them to become recognised and highly rewarded Leaders.

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