Steps to Remove Product Development Barriers and Shorten Time to Market
Bringing new hardware products to the market can be an exhilarating yet complicated process. New product development takes time and can get expensive quickly due to the pitfalls companies might encounter. Unfortunately, not tackling these obstacles head-on can lead to increased costs and significant delays. Let’s look at the possible barriers to any product launch and what you can do about it.
Time to Market
Time to Market (TTM) is an important term to understand for product development. It’s the time between when a product gets conceived and when it goes on sale. The faster something arrives on the market, the quicker an organization can recoup research and development costs and establish a new revenue stream.
There are no standards for measuring TTM. And yet, it’s no secret when development has slowed, or significant changes are necessary to keep it moving forward. Companies that are successful in product development find ways to shrink their TTM.
What Causes Product Launch Delays?
We all want a new product to launch successfully, quickly, and inexpensively. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Corners are often cut, team members may not be on the same page about product changes, and budgets are often exceeded.
Before production begins on new products, it’s essential to identify all stakeholders, map out the likely costs, and have a thorough marketing plan that shows an existing demand for the product.
In many organizations, creativity and business-minded decisions are at odds. The innovators in charge of product development and those making financial and other business decisions often aren’t in direct contact.
This dichotomy can have far-reaching adverse effects on new products. To resolve this, managers need to make sure everyone gets a handle on the shared vision and goals of the product launch. In other words, the big picture. It’s also a good idea to have liaisons in place, so there is constant communication between the group to stay on message.
Allow more employees to take ownership of the process by actively holding brainstorming sessions between management and staff. This one-on-one among teams should be done even before the development process begins in some cases. Ultimately, the goal here is to make sure everyone is on the same page and feels part of the process.
Fuzzy Product Launch Goals
Setting project launch goals is also an essential factor often overlooked by companies. This needs to be ironed out from sales goals to product awareness goals throughout the process. Otherwise, you can’t measure success or failure accurately.
As MaRS, a launchpad for startups, explains, numerous factors must be considered for setting project goals. These include determining the total revenue, calculating the number of initial customers required, and understanding your sales win ratio.
A Lack of Defined Workflows
Projects thrive on well-defined workflows. This begins with every member of a team being on the same page. Established workflows can reduce downtime and remove time wastage. To achieve this, though responsible for a product launch must carefully break everything down into small steps with actionable items that much be executed.
An Unsupported Market
Even the “best” product can fail if the market doesn’t want it. Products that succeed are backed up by robust market research that includes competitive analysis and information on the target audience. But, as Harvard Business Review explains, if the consumer “doesn’t get it,” there’s no room for long-term success.
As part of this process, you should also be able to answer basic questions like ‘who will buy this and at what price.’
Unexpected Manufacturing Delays
For hardware products, many issues can arise on the manufacturing front. Unfortunately, all the planning in the world won’t eliminate every possible manufacturing problem. And yet, better planning will go a long way to smoothing the process. In addition, understanding potential bottlenecks and the solution will go a long way in helping you to find success.
Expediting the Time to Market
There are various factors and concepts to consider to expedite the time to market for a new product, including the following:
Keep an Eye on Expenses
Budgeting is an integral part of any project. Ensure stakeholders understand where things stand on the financial front throughout the process. These same stakeholders must be able to pivot promptly when budget goals aren’t being achieved or must be adjusted.
Become Marketing Gurus
Promising ideas on paper don’t always translate into success in the market. This requires thorough market research that analyzes the competition and the audience. On the latter, identify the target audience by collecting opinions and interests.
Thorough competitor analysis is also essential. What types of pain points, for example, were discovered during their product launches? What steps can be taken to avoid the same pitfalls?
Bringing in Outside Partners
Though products may differ, potential roadblocks are similar project to project. Therefore, the tools learned by an organization to remove barriers on one product will carry on to the next. However, keep in mind that new potential problems can arise. For example, economic conditions can change, as can consumer tastes and needs.
It’s best to consider bringing in an outside organization with product development expertise such as Mason to help you stay on the right path to concentrate on creating great products. These experts add value and flair for streamlining operations and scaling businesses. Better still, they understand the subtle difference, industry to industry.
By bringing in someone from the outside, you can also reduce the total cost of ownership, foster cross-collaboration, and improve the user experience, no matter the product. Positive partners can also tailor customer experiences and improvements while ultimately increasing the speed to market, helping to deliver products as envisioned.
A Long-Term Commitment
Whether this is your first product or the hundredth, understanding the product development process is essential for your organization in the short- and long term. Creating synergy among shareholders in the business, understanding the ever-evolving market conditions, and having efficient and long-term manufacturing partners are vital components to successful product development. Each, when implemented, can knock down barriers too often fell other organizations. Finally, outside experts can tie everything together to add more value to the overall development process.