Featured Post for Technology Executives “Speeding New Product Development”

Key Elements To Understand When Looking To Improve Speed To Market:

1. KNOW HOW IMPORTANT SPEED-TO-MARKET (STM) IS TO YOUR BUSINESS

At a high level of generality development speed is associated with new product success.  However many, but not all, firms benefit from implementing time-to-market practices to increase speed-to-market.  This picture becomes more complicated when considering individual organizations and products as there are organizations and products for which increasing speed-to-market is likely to increase product success, there are others for which it may not. An “R&D Game Matrix” simplifies this picture.

2. KNOW WHAT SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES/BENEFITS ARE YOU ARE SEEKING BY IMPROVING SPEED TO MARKET

There are many potential benefits from managing time-to-market or improving speed-to-market. They include both financial and nonfinancial benefits. The financial benefits are often directly measurable and vastly exceed the up-front costs of introducing speed-to-market approaches to the organization. Some examples of the benefits of speed are:

  • Faster Innovation. Companies that are built for speed often realize first-mover advantages; they are able to react more quickly to competitors’ moves or market shifts with their own product innovations.
  • Lower Development Costs. Streamlined processes, limited iterations, and reduced slack release financial and operating resources for other value-adding activities.
  • Larger Market Share. A product that gets to market early is less likely to face initial competition. A quick introduction also gives a product more time to build market share before it declines into a commodity.
  • Greater Forecasting Accuracy. Because the time between product design and product release is shorter, executives may be more willing to green-light trendy products that would otherwise be denied.

Note that you may not be able to realize all these benefits, so you must decide what specific advantages/benefits are you seeking. 

3. kNOW WHAT TRADE-OFFS ARE YOU PREPARED TO MAKE TO BALANCE SPEED TO MARKET ADVANTAGES/BENEFITS WITH OTHER OBJECTIVES

You need to be aware of what might go wrong from an emphasis on managing time-to-market or improving speed-to-market, higher costs, decreased product quality, or incrementalism, for example.

A tacit assumption of many is that STM and product quality are opposing attributes of a development process. STM may be improved (shortened) by skipping steps of the development process, thus compromising product quality. For those who use highly structured development processes such as Phase–gate model or Six Sigma, product development is often viewed as a clearly defined sequence of steps to be followed. Skipping a step—due to perceived time pressure, for example—may not only undercut quality but can ultimately lengthen STM if the organization must complete or repeat the step later. Following this view, STM is usually improved by following all of the prescribed steps and putting priority into improving those steps that have the largest impact on STM (i.e. via a Pareto analysis)

Other organizations operate more aggressively, recognizing that not all steps need to be completed for every project. Furthermore, they actively apply tools and techniques that will shorten or overlap steps, cut decision-making time, and automate activities. Many such tools and techniques are available.

4. KNOW IF YOU HAVE THE ENABLERS OF SPEED TO MARKET ALREADY IN PLACE

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

It’s essential to have the enablers of managing speed-to-market in place. Critically important is to measure time-to-market and the value of improving speed-to-market so you can see the impacts of changes you make.  Focus on your overall product development capability rather than narrowly on speed-to-market

5. KNOW WHAT SPECIFIC APPROACHES, TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES ARE READILY AVAILABLE FOR MANAGING SPEED TO MARKET

You must match specific approaches, tools and techniques for managing time-to-market and speed-to-market with your objectives and the type of “R&D Game” you play.