Time to market helps you understand how long it takes to bring an idea from inception to full release. Improving TTM helps you gain revenue and deliver value faster.
•Published: Jan 22, 2021
Timing is everything. When you spend so much time conceptualizing, planning, and building new products for your customers, nailing the launch date is crucial. Release too early, and your product might not be ready for full customer engagement; release it too late, and someone else will beat you to market.
Then why, according to a 2019 Gartner survey, are only 11% of organizations able to achieve 100% of their internal launch targets?
The simple answer is because it’s hard to account for everything that goes into bringing a brand-new product to market. Combine this with the fact that “45% of product launches are delayed by at least one month” according to that same survey — and it’s easy to see how difficult it is to nail down a product’s time to market.
When you understand the typical time to market for each product you build, that’s a big help in building more accurate product timelines and launch dates. Reducing time to market helps your team move seamlessly through the product development process and provide value to customers faster.
What Is Time to Market (TTM)?
Time to market (TTM) is the measure of how long it takes your product team to usher an idea from inception to full public release. It gives you a way to conceptualize the amount of time required to complete various tasks throughout product development. When so much work goes into every step of the process, TTM allows you to create more accurate plans for your business. But there’s more to it than just timing; TTM helps you assign value to your developers’ time and track how quickly they can make a product that generates revenue.
Why Reducing Time to Market Is So Powerful
Understanding time to market helps you create a more seamless development experience for your team. You can reduce the time it takes to launch products into the public, deliver continual value to customers, and build stronger relationships at scale.
When you improve TTM, you deliver value to customers faster. This helps you gain a competitive advantage and capture revenue quicker. Developing new products takes valuable time and resources, which you spend upfront. So being able to release your products faster helps offset those costs and recoup your initial investment.
Reducing TTM increases your release cadence as well. That helps you build a more consistent and predictable revenue model for your business and reminds customers of your value, which informs their overall satisfaction with your product.
Use your understanding of these benefits to refine your product development strategy. This understanding helps you think critically about how your team scales various processes and workflows and helps maximize resource costs for the best return on investment.
Improving your time to market makes these processes and workflows more efficient and easy to complete. That efficiency streamlines your developers’ experience and builds a more engaged and collaborative team culture.
6 Strategies for Reducing Time to Market
Improving TTM takes considerable insight into your product development process and how each stage of the lifecycle impacts your team’s efficiency. Here are six strategies you can use to reduce time to market:
1. Streamline Your Development Process
Improving TTM requires a comprehensive understanding of the various moving parts that make up your product development process, as well as the resources required to complete them. The more clarity you have on these processes, the easier it is to create a systematic approach for your team to follow.
Bring together key stakeholders throughout your organization and identify potential areas of improvement. These areas of improvement are places in the development life cycle where you typically encounter friction or see consistent delays.
Let’s say that user testing is the part of the process that most often delays your releases. There can be a number of different reasons this takes additional time — identifying customers to talk to, scheduling interviews, analyzing feedback — so your first step is to identify where problems arise. Once you’ve found any issues, you can adjust your timelines and workflows accordingly.
Each member of the team must understand what is required of them at each stage of the process. Internal confusion over how to move forward can cause just as many delays as trying to work with customers directly.
2. Set Achievable Goals & KPIs
Reducing a product’s time to market is only possible if you set realistic goals for your team. Creating goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that are representative of real-world outcomes not only helps you see the impact of changes to various processes but also gives your team a clear path to success.
The SMARTgoal-setting framework is a great method for creating goals and setting KPIs that push your team towards actionable results. It ensures your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, so they provide all the context to solidify engineer priorities and work more efficienctly.
If you’re still working to decrease the time it takes to complete user testing, your goal might look something like this:
Reduce the time it takes to accomplish user testing by 5% in Q3 by identifying target personas in planning and reaching out three weeks before the active development stage is complete.
Accomplishing this goal helps you cut down on the time it takes to complete user testing, which translates into a better overall time to market as well. At the end of each product release, make sure you analyze and refine these goals and KPIs to help push your team towards even more ambitious goals.
3. Create Specific Product Roadmaps
Every new product has unique resource requirements, timelines, and costs. To cut down on TTM and make planning more accurate, you need to have development roadmaps for every type of product you create. A clear roadmap also helps you prioritize tasks effectively and provide visibility to the team.
Use project management platforms like Jira and Trello to set up different projects and keep a historical record of these roadmaps for analysis. When every member of your team can visualize the path various tasks take through the product development process, it provides clarity into potential conflicts before they cause delays.
Product roadmap example via Trello.
Building out these roadmaps also helps you keep track of all the different project-related tasks, their current status, and how long they take to complete. Use this information to identify similarities between different processes, and refine roadmaps with each release.
Getting a handle on your time-to-market projections is an ongoing process that needs to be evaluated at key points along the way, which is only possible with a clear sense of how your team works together.
4. Build Well-Defined Workflows
There are a lot of interconnected tasks your team needs to accomplish to build a new product successfully. Creating well-defined workflows helps everyone move forward with their work with a concrete understanding of what to do at key points in the development process.
A crucial part of defining these workflows is documentation — tasks, timelines, resources, bottlenecks, potential blockers — everything your team does must be clearly stated and visible for the whole organization. Sharing this context encourages everyone to engage with processes on a deeper level and make suggestions to improve them based on their own experience.
One way to streamline this information is to try agile product development. Being agile helps your team conceptualize their work on a more direct level and create smaller work units, called sprints, that make it much easier to prospect out your work.
You also create a backlog of work to help gain a better understanding of what still needs to be done before the product is released.
Being able to accurately predict the amount of work and resources required for any given project makes reducing TTM easier. Becoming more agile also helps your team adapt to changes faster by giving them opportunities to reevaluate progress at both the beginning and end of each sprint. This makes it one of the quickest ways to address any issues before they cause delays.
5. Know When to Build vs. Buy
Sometimes taking a product from idea to release can be accomplished entirely in-house. Other times, you will need to leverage third-party tools and resources to streamline the process for your team. Understanding how to make the build vs. buy decision ensures that you’ll always know which decision to make.
When you choose to build something from the ground up, it takes more time to complete than purchasing a turnkey solution. But purchasing specific software development kits (SDK) or application programing interfaces (API) is another option. Depending on your team’s needs and desired outcomes, it can make sense to offset development time with these third-party tools.
Making the decision to buy also helps you get your product to market faster, which helps you capture revenue sooner and offset the cost of your third-party integrations.
6. Automate as Much as You Can
The more efficient your team is as they move through daily responsibilities, the easier it is to reduce your company’s TTM. Automating repetitive processes and simple workflows helps free up time for people to focus on more complex and time-consuming tasks. This can be especially helpful when resources are limited or your team runs lean.
To find which tasks are the best candidates for automation, reach out to each member of your team directly. They’ll help you identify bottlenecks or areas of opportunity in day-to-day workflows and provide a comprehensive picture of how much time it takes to accomplish certain tasks.
Let’s say technical documentation is one of those areas of improvement. It’s a vital part of scaling knowledge on your product and development teams, but the time it takes to create, organize, and update this documentation can potentially take away from your team’s overall productivity. A platform like Jupyter Notebook, which automates key parts of the documentation process, would give time back to your team and free up their resources to be used on other important projects.
Also, third parties like Zapier help you integrate services that otherwise wouldn’t connect. Instead of having to manually update a client via email, for example, you could trigger one automatically using their tools. Each bit of time saved improves your time to market as the project moves forward.
Reducing Time to Market Improves Customer Satisfaction
When you cut down on the time it takes to bring new products to market, it helps you deliver value to customers faster. That increased speed makes it easier to build engaged relationships, keep customers happy, and retain them longer. So much of the customer experience is hinged on the way people interact with your products, so keeping a consistent release cadence ensures your company stays top of mind.
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