As companies embrace the concept of product evolution, there is a desire to get new, improved, enhance products to market faster. However faster is not always better, and many companies find that rushing to market leads to disappointing results, typically due to lack of preparation. Want to get your product to market faster? Follow these steps.
Understand if faster is not always better for your product
Getting your product to market quickly may not be the best approach for all product development projects. Many types of products don’t have a simplistic linear value function, where each feature added to a product translates to more value to the customer when delivered now. In fact, some products could destroy value if offered to a customer too soon. A product rushed to market my compromise quality or value, and set an unrealistic expectation for future products. Consider the pros and cons of accelerating a product to market before setting timelines to ensure you’re meeting the end goal of an improved product of higher quality at a solid price point.
Know your resources
Before you even begin a project, understand what internal resources you have, and which functions you may have to outsource to a professional engineering firm or other resource. Sometimes looking at resources is not only a matter of what’s available in-house, but if utilizing those resources to a new project vs. other projects will provide the best ROI. Many times, companies will go with a blended approach, leveraging internal resources as well as outside resources to get the job done. Be sure you completely understand all resources before getting started, and establish a good line of communication to be used throughout the project. This will avoid any unexpected delays that can hinder how quickly a product ultimately goes to market.
Establish a process and a timeline for clear expectations
Create a robust plan and realistic timeline that your team and customers can understand and accept. Establish a process for rapid yet measurable execution of each step of the process, and identify expectations that should be met for each step. Every task should have a clear definition for “done”. A common mistake is to size tasks either too large or too small. Too large and you won’t be able to envision flow effectively. Too small and you’ll burden the organization with too much detail and too many hand-offs. Establishing a timeline and clear expectations is crucial to expedite a product to market.
Have good product documentation
Documentation is key for any development and often spans the entire development process in some form or another. The more clear and concise product specification you can put together early in the product design process, the less you’re likely to impact time to market. This includes pricing, market, investment required, features, etc. Be sure to involve every department impacting these decisions early in the process to avoid delays.
Benchmark your product development process
Nothing will slow down a project faster than lack of obtained goals along the way. This typically happens when no performance benchmarks are established, and a project simply moves along without anyone knowing if the project is timely and if certain stages are being hit at the expected time. This can often result in a product development project languishing without direction. Benchmarking your project is an excellent way to gain buy-in and support for change, especially when you involve the people expected to lead the change in the benchmarking process. Understanding the benchmarks established for different stages of the process will help everyone understand the time and effort expected of them, allowing them to provide proper feedback or request additional resources if needed.
If your company is considering a new product development project and want to ensure the final product gets to market quickly, follow these steps or engage the services of a product design company to assist in overseeing the project.