Preston Smith's Corner

Where do we start in reducing time to market?

July 2004 Quick Tip

Your first step should be to determine what flavor of time to market you need. Faster product development seems to be a straightforward concept, but there are some important distinctions to make. Here are some of the possibilities:

1. Launch the product as soon as possible
2. Minimize variations in launch time
3. Minimize rework and wasted effort
4. Minimize development expense
5. Agility (ability to make late changes easily)

Raw speed (number 1) is important in some fast-moving industries, such as fashions and consumer electronics. Minimizing variation (number 2) is more critical for seasonal products or those launched through trade shows. Minimizing waste seems to be the unspoken objective behind some approaches to accelerated development, such as stages-and-gates. Due to increasing uncertainty in markets, supply chains, and technologies, agility is increasingly important for many companies.

Understanding your objective is the first step because the tools you use to reduce “time to market” – as well as the results you obtain – will depend on your objective. For instance, high-performance project teams are effective for objective number 1, project risk management aims at objective number 2, strong phase reviews fit with number 3, functional and matrix organizations align with number 4, and front-loaded experimentation matches number 5.

Unless you select tools that fit your objective, you will not achieve the results you desire.

For help in making these choices, calculate your project economics (see Chapter 2 of Developing Products in Half the Time) or read our article, “Developing Your Products in Half the Time.”

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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