There are Five General Guidelines for “Enablers” Related to Improving Speed to Market. It is essential to take them into account before embarking on a program to improve Speed to Market.

1. Enablers of Product Development Speed Vary; focus on the ones that count.

Enablers are pre-conditions for managing time-to-market and achieving speed-to-market. They are independent of any specific method, tool or technique.

Strongest Influence on Speed to MarketSignificant Influence on Speed to MarketNo Statistically Significant Influence on Speed to Market
Project CharacteristicsProject ComplexityProject Novelty (Product and/or Technology)Project Size
Process CharacteristicsGoal Effectiveness / Goal ClarityProcess Formalization (Use of explicit rules and standard procedures)
External IntegrationExternal Integration (Including supplier and customer involvement)
Process Concurrency
Building and Testing
NPD Competencies and Team CharacteristicsMarketing Proficiency
Problem Solving Proficiency
Team Learning
Team Experience
Team Stability
Team Leadership
Technical Proficiency
Internal Integration (Including use of cross functional teams)
Teamwork Quality
Team Dedication and Commitment
Management Style
Team Empowerment
Up-Front Planning Proficiency
Functional Diversity
Tem Size
Team Proximity (Same site location or co-location)
Firm CharacteristicsTop Management Support
Organizational Support (Including availability of resources and facilities)
Innovative Firm Climate
Project Priority
Emphasis on Speed
Experience and Alignment with Core Competencies
Presence of Time-Based Rewards and Incentives
Environmental CharacteristicsTechnical Turbulence
Market Turbulence
Competitive Intensity
Market Attractiveness
Ease of Entry
Influencing Factors for Product Development Speed

* Project complexity and newness have a negative association; that is, the higher the complexity or novelty the lower the product development speed. References

2. Overall Product Development Capability Counts; not any one element.

  • Focus on your overall product development capability rather than narrowly on speed-to-market.
    • Enablers that are strong or significant contributors to product development speed are strongly associated with overall proficiency in new product development.
    • Faster development speed leads to improved product success in the market depending upon a variety of industry and competitive factors.
    • ‘Best vs. the rest’ comparisons show that the best performers are substantially better at managing time-to-market.
    • It is likely that better performance in executing speed-to-market strategies is a consequence of better overall new product development capabilities.
    • If you want to improve management of time-to-market or increase speed-to-market, then your priority should be on improving overall product development capability.

3. Measure Time-to-Market; what gets measured gets done and improved.

  • You must measure time-to-market.
    • Measuring time-to-market is a pre-requisite for managing time-to-market, including initiatives to improve speed-to-market.
    • To measure time-to-market you must start with definitions of the beginning and the end of a product development project.
      • You must also define what type of product you are creating.
    • There are many ways to measure the start and end points of a product development project. Choose start and end points that reflects your business.
      • Use the same definitions of the beginning and the end of a project over time so that changes in the product development process can be evaluated.
      • Start points include (1) when a project is funded or (2) when the project team is formed.
      • End points include (1) when a project is transferred to manufacturing or (2) formal product launch and its ready for sale or (3) when the product development team is disbanded.
    • Categorize different types of products separately when tracking time-to-market so that like is compared with like.
      • Do not compare a brand new product that requires creation of new materials and new technology to a change in existing product that going to be introduced to a new market with a different format.

4. Focus on Speed-to-Market At The Right Stage in the Development Cycle; Managing Speed-to-Market works for Product Development, not for Technology Research.

Manage Time-to-Market And Speed-to-Market At The Right Stage
  • You must manage time-to-market and speed-to-market at the right stage of product development.
    • The sweet spot is in the development stage
      • Managing time-to-market and speed-to-market works when technological invention is finished and technical work is confined to creating or optimizing the product. At this stage the technology needed for the product is under sufficient control to enable product development to be planned.
      • A structured process can be used to manage technology research and invention however it must be managed differently from product development. In a research process you need to monitor progress and set goals that are technical. When leadership meets with the team they look at the technical goals and the current experimental data and compare the technology’s performance to what is needed.
      • In the product development stage no technological invention should be needed and the technical work to be done is restricted to the creation of the product: the details of how it will go together, what materials to use, etc. Efficiency in development cycle time is a goal in this stage.

5. Decision-Making Process Counts; this is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.

  • Effective, timely decision-making is essential.
    • Effective and timely decision-making is essential for managing time-to-market and product development speed.
    • The decision-making process must include both the leadership of the business and the product development project team.
    • The leadership team makes decisions for the business at phase/gate reviews so that the team can continue their work without delay.
    • The leadership and whole project team meet to maximize communication and information sharing with the aim of having no delays at transitions between phases/gates.
    • There are only three types of decisions:
      • GO: The team may propose changes to the project plan. There is agreement on timing, deliverables and resources. The resources needed are provided for the team.
      • STOP: The team is disbanded and assigned to other, higher priority projects.
      • RETURN: Re-convene in a defined short time, e.g. 1 or 2 weeks, because something is missing or needs work to clarify.
    • The product development project team makes decisions about project-related matters; that is they have operational autonomy within clear strategic goals for the business.
      • This empowerment of the team has a significant effect on product development speed.
      • High autonomy for project teams is particularly important for high novelty, exploratory innovation.


•Pinar Cankurtaran, Fred Langerak and Abbie Griffin, Consequences of New Product Development Speed: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of Product Innovation Management vol.30(3), 465–486 (2013)

•Jiyao Chen, Fariborz Damanpour and Richard R. Reilly, Understanding antecedents of new product development speed: A meta-analysis, Journal of Operations Management vol.28, 17–33 (2010)

•Rita Gunther McGrath, Exploratory Learning, Innovative Capacity and Managerial Oversight, The Academy of Management Journal, vol.44(1), 118 – 131 (2001)