How to Improve Your Product’s Time to Market
A Brief Guide on How to Launch New Features and Stay Ahead of Competitors
In today’s fast-paced, always on world, the saying that time is money has never been more accurate. In fact, being the first company off the mark to release a new feature or to bring an idea to market can lead to multi-million dollar revenue opportunities. It’s also how today’s tech giants have established such a firm stranglehold over the industry.
That’s where the idea of “time to market” comes in. The idea is to approximate the amount of time that it will take to bring an idea from the initial concept to a marketable product that’s available for purchase. Approximating it helps companies to plan and to develop timelines, and then the actual amount of time it takes can be measured and compared with the plan.
Monitoring your time to market can be a useful gauge of your company’s overall performance, and it can also help you to identify and iron out any inefficiencies. And as we’ve already discussed, shaving off even a couple of days from your time to market can have huge advantages, especially if you’re aimed at leading the industry and be the first to release a new product.
Key Factors Improving the Time to Market:
Improving your time to market requires a strategic approach that targets your production approach both as a whole and at individual stages. Just a few of the factors to consider include:
Prototyping has never been easier or more accessible thanks to 3D printing and ever-improving digital modelling technologies. Creating prototypes can help you to identify potential problems with the product and to get them fixed, and that applies whether you’re developing a product, a service or a piece of software.
The challenge for most companies is to get the balance just right. If you spend too much time prototyping then it can slow your time to market, but if you spend too little then you risk ending up with an incomplete prototype and even launching a product that isn’t quite ready for public consumption.
2. Incremental development
The idea behind incremental development is to develop software that can be shipped in increments with different versions of functioning as interoperable standalones. This approach is more attractive than ever thanks to the ability of cloud-based software to automatically download updates via the internet.
When it comes to improving your product’s time to market, incremental development is a good idea because it means you can release a working version of your software way before the final thing is ready. It takes a lot of guts to go with incremental development, but if your product is good enough then people will believe in it. You can add new features and functionality as you go instead of delaying the launch until the product is perfect.
3. Controlled changes
As you start to finalize your product, you need to make important decisions on the basic features of your solution. But nothing stays the same forever and so the key to managing that change is to anticipate it and to make those changes happen in a controlled and efficient manner.
The goal is to make it easy for everyone to access the latest product information at any time so that when changes are made, everyone knows about it. Better still, when the information is kept up-to-date in a cloud-based system that can be accessed from any device, it means that employees always have access to the data they need to make important decisions.
4. Quality Assurance
Quality assurance (QA) is a vital part of any product’s development. After all, if you release something that isn’t fit for purpose, you’re going to find yourself putting out fires all over the place and facing a PR nightmare. It can cripple your company before it even gets started.
QA takes time, which is why you should get started even with the earliest of prototypes so that if nothing else, you have an idea for some of the problems to look out for. Eat your own dog food, by which we mean your employees should be routinely using your product as part of their day-to-day work.
5. Availability of test users
This builds on from the last point. One of the major factors which will influence the thoroughness of your QA process and how quickly you can complete will be the number of available test users. As a general rule, the more the better. Consider drafting in friends and family members as well as employees, especially if they’re unfamiliar with your industry.
Of course, another option is to hire a team of testers, either to work in-house or to work remotely. It’s arguably better to keep using new testers than to have the same team at all stages of the process because bringing in a fresh pair of eyes can unlock insights that might otherwise have been missed.
6. Lean product development approach
Lean development is a manufacturing and software development approach that focuses on optimizing the production line to minimize waste, improve speeds and add more value to the end user. It’s essentially a way of thinking that can help you to further optimize the work you’re already doing.
The five principles of lean development are:
- Define value: What is it that the customer is willing to pay for?
- Map the value stream: Identify all of the ways that you can add value to your customer.
- Create flow: After removing unnecessary activities from the value stream, the goal is to ensure that the remaining activities flow as smoothly as possible.
- Establish pull: Limit your inventory to just the required items and in just the quantities that you need.
- Pursue perfection: Continue to look for ways to further streamline your product and its ongoing development.
7. Increasing the effectiveness of product development team
In the spirit of pursuing perfection, improving the effectiveness of your product development team should be a long-term strategy. You’ll want to make hires and provide training when required, and don’t be afraid to cut dead weight from your team if someone isn’t performing at the standard that you require of them.
Remember that you don’t always have to go it alone. Many of the challenges of product development can be solved by working with a remote development team, and remote workers can also bring unique expertise along with them. Even when you just need a little backup when your team is working flat out and struggling to meet a deadline, a remote testing team or a specialist product designer can be worth their weight in gold.
Meet Your Remote Software Development Team
In our experience, one of the best ways to improve your product’s time to market is to work with an external team. That’s because you can tap into their existing expertise and avoid common pitfalls, and you’ll also get a good idea as to whether your plans are feasible or not when you start to share them with specialist professionals.
Of course, it can also be a good idea to build an internal team of your own, but doing that can be time-consuming and delay your product launch. Even once you’ve made a hire, it takes time to train people to use your systems and they may also need to learn new programming languages or to adjust to your industry.
Working with a remote software development team comes with challenges of its own, but in most cases, they’re either the same problems you’d come up against with an internal team or they’re offset by the advantages of outsourcing. You’ll pay only for the work that you need doing, be able to scale up and down at will and have an opportunity to implement new features faster than ever before.
The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are plenty of consultancy companies, freelance product specialists and more who can help you for a fee, and there are also plenty of online resources out there to help you to get started. You should also have a few good ideas from this article free of charge.
Remember that even if you have internal resources, working with a remote development team can have advantages. You can augment your team with specialists in their fields, from development to quality assurance, and they can help at any stage of the development process.
Still need help bringing your product to market? There’s no need to suffer in silence. Here at Zfort Group, we offer a range of consultancy and technological services to help you to bring your products to market more quickly and efficiently than ever before. So if you’re ready to improve your product’s time to market with a partner you can trust, be sure to get in touch with us to find out more!