Shorten the time-to-market
You want to position yourself on the market faster than your competitor? Do you have to meet an important trade fair deadline? Or perhaps you simply want to evaluate more alternatives in a short space of time, in order to meet customer requirements with maximum efficacy or to increase product maturity? Simultaneously, shortening development time should not be at the expense of product functionality, product maturity or product costs. With an effective strategy process, smart portfolio management and outstanding processes, this supposed conflict can be resolved.
Directions of Optimization
There are three approaches to shortening time-to-market:
- Prepare product creation projects for the long-term.
- Optimise product development.
- Take conscious risks when concerning quality and manufacturing costs.
Prepare product creation projects for the long-term
Many companies channel the majority of their focus into optimising the actual product creation process. However, it is not uncommon for a project team to discover, in the course of a project, that technologies needed for the product are not available or mature. When such a need for action becomes apparent, it is often already too late. More complex technologies often take longer to develop and become ready for use than the actual product itself.
The time-to-market as the time span – from project start to market launch date – is, therefore, determined much earlier, namely by sound strategic pre-planning routed in foresight. The product strategy defines the future product portfolio with initial ideas on the functions to be realised. The technology strategy determines which technology alternatives are to be used, in order to realise these functions. The platform and module strategy also reveals the potential for standardisation, reuse and complexity control. These strategic plans are translated into specific projects via a powerful portfolio management system and presented in a medium- to long-term synchronised roadmap comprising pre-development, platform, module and product development projects, in a chronological context. This roadmap is then implemented in technology and advance development and in platform and module development. This requires reliable portfolio and (multi-) project management to ensure that projects are started in the right sequence and executed efficiently. No project has to wait for another. In project planning, it should also be foreseen that not all resources are allocated to 100 per cent, but that approximately 20 per cent of capacity is kept free for changes that are sure to come. In agile portfolio management, a work-in-progress (WIP) limit is, therefore, set.
This ensures that new technologies are secured to the greatest extent possible at the beginning of a product development project and that the essential modules underpinning the product architecture are ready, or at least are already characterised by a high level of development maturity. All this reduces risks in the project that can lead to unforeseeable delays.
Optimise the product development process
You can only realise the advantages of a short time-to-market if you master every detail of your product development process in every phase. At the same time, you lay the foundation for an efficient way of working. Processes must be clean, described in appropriate detail and rooted in sound training. They must also be continuously improved. Responsibility for this task must be regulated. In addition, the organisation must possess extensive knowledge and sufficient experience in applying the processes, in order to realise their full potential. Any consequences from shortcuts must be rendered transparent, and the risks from them must be reliably assessed. Adequate support for the process landscape by a networked IT system environment goes without saying.
Process design (and its project management) are primarily concerned with avoiding waste and understanding the constant change of requirements in projects as a state of normality. To this end, the requisite flexibility must be provided for in processes and the handling of changes in project management must be actively designed, all with achieving the best project result in mind. Likewise, the use of state-of-the-art methods and development technologies – such as artificial intelligence, simulation and rapid prototyping, or the deployment of integrated digital formats and tools – aims to accelerate the achievement of the goal, often with significantly improved efficiency.
Processes and project management must, therefore, be optimised with regard to interdisciplinary cooperation (simultaneous engineering), clearly described acceptance criteria for work results and rapid decision-making. For more on this, please see “Product Development Process”, “Project Management” and Agile Transformation. To the extent that short development times can be directly translated into an earlier market launch, the advantages of frontloading are clear.
The time saved typically leads to lower costs for the series launch (point A). The product generates money earlier and thus reaches the profitability threshold faster (point B). Over the product’s entire life cycle, better market coverage is usually achieved with a cumulatively higher result for the company (point C).
But even when a company, as a supplier to another company, cannot directly influence the time of market entry, a short development time is beneficial. On the one hand, advantages can be generated by drawing up more concept alternatives or innovations in the given time. This leads to an increase in competence from the customer’s point of view and to the consolidation of one’s position as a supplier. In addition, the time advantages can also be translated into a reduction of product costs, given that the commitment of required resources is lower and, therefore, several projects can be processed in the same period of time.
Take conscious risks when concerning quality and manufacturing costs
Now, it may still happen in your company that you have to take risks when addressing product maturity and manufacturing costs. Be it that the above-mentioned prerequisites are not yet in place, or that your hand is forced by unforeseeable events, requiring these to be developed more quickly. In that case, you will omit process steps or entire phases of your product development process. In such a situation, a well-described product development process will help you to create transparency regarding the associated risks and then be able to consciously take them.
All this demonstrates that shortening time-to-market is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. Identifying and implementing starting points that quickly lead to results is nothing trivial. Our experienced consultants at CO Improve support you in working as effectively as possible on the various levers, in order to ensure short development times.
The benefit to you
- You plan technology and product development projects in a long-term and synchronised manner.
- You deliver innovative products with a high value for your customers on time and earlier than your competitors.
- You carry out your projects with less stress and use of resources through frontloading.
- You consciously take economically controllable risks.
- You act as a well-coordinated team in the organisation.