What is Time to Market (TTM)?
Time to market, also known as TTM or time-to-market, refers to the duration between the inception of a product and its release into the market. It can also be defined as the period between when a team initiates work on a product and when the first unit is sold. Extensive research has demonstrated that new players entering the market gain distinct advantages in terms of market share, revenue, sales growth, and especially competitive edge.
Consequently, time to market holds significant importance as a key performance indicator (KPI) or metric in product development. Many product development strategies heavily rely on the concept of being the first to introduce a product to the market, making a swift time to market highly desirable.
The connection between time to market, revenue, and cost is both quantitative and qualitative in nature. Optimal timing for product launches is not always immediate, although it tends to be the case for more innovative offerings. Releasing a product at the right time necessitates adaptability, the ability to learn quickly, and resilience. These capabilities are critical in the current landscape of time-driven competition.
Why is Time to Market Important?
Market dynamics, competitive pressures, and emerging technologies are often the driving forces behind market changes. It is imperative for companies to swiftly respond to these changes. Being the first to introduce a new product or concept is frequently the key to capturing market share and maximising profits. We’ve summarised the top 5 reasons why reducing your time-to-market is so important:
- Meeting Customer Expectations: Customers have an insatiable desire for the latest features and innovations. In sectors like mobile handsets, where innovation occurs at a rapid pace, consumers expect a continuous stream of enhanced features on an annual basis.
- Achieving Corporate Growth Objectives: Shorter product life cycles and ambitious growth targets necessitate a speedy time to market. Organizations must keep pace with the evolving market to seize growth opportunities effectively.
- Financial Implications: Failing to meet time-to-market targets can have significant financial repercussions. Research by McKinsey & Co revealed that a product delayed by six months experiences a 33% reduction in profits over five years. In contrast, releasing a product on time but exceeding the budget only results in a minor 4% profit reduction.
- Competitive Pressure: Some companies prioritise speed as the ultimate goal, driven by the motto “Move fast and break things,” as exemplified by Facebook. Others face direct competition and the need to stay ahead in the market, particularly in the technology and mobile handset sectors, where annual shows and demanding consumer expectations prevail.
- Strategic Time to Market Approach: Technology companies, especially in the B2C software industry, often adopt the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concept. This approach entails shipping a version with core features only, taking calculated risks with customer satisfaction, and enabling rapid movement and reduced time to market. Aligning time to market with strategic objectives allows companies to shape their product portfolio effectively, determining factors such as long-term investment, innovation, or a me-too offering.
Timing releases strategically becomes a means of achieving competitive differentiation. The ability to adapt quickly and learn from market feedback becomes a crucial capability for project management and ensuring faster time to market. Seeking product management consulting from external experts can provide an independent perspective on the value of speed to market for achieving product differentiation.
Why Does Improving Your Time To Market Improve Your Competitive Advantage?
The primary and paramount reason for the importance of time to market lies in its fundamental role in gaining a competitive edge. By enhancing your time to market, you can seize business opportunities and outpace your direct competitors in swiftly entering the market.
Through the optimisation of your development and marketing processes, you can achieve a competitive advantage commonly known as the first mover advantage. When your company boasts a rapid product development process, it becomes the frontrunner in the market, leading to a more impactful product launch. Consequently, this translates into higher sales and profit margins compared to your slower-paced competitors.
How Can I Measure Time To Market?
The first step in effectively measuring time to market is to have a clear understanding of what aspects you are measuring and the reasons behind them. Various metrics can be employed, such as the duration on the calendar (in months or years) required to bring a concept to the market, the number of person-hours involved, the associated costs, or a combination of these factors. Typically, the key performance indicator (KPI) for product development time to market is the period from team initiation to the first customer shipment, expressed in weeks or months.
Different approaches exist for determining when the clock starts ticking. Some organisations commence timing after the team and budget receive approval, while an informal team might engage in preliminary product design work before that point, albeit at a high level. In certain instances, the project may be approved, but it could take weeks before team members are fully dedicated to the project. It is crucial to define the precise start and end points of the project as specifically as possible.
However, comparing time to market between different teams or organisations requires careful consideration to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison. The scope of the project and the associated risks are the most significant factors influencing time to market.
Additionally, the level of product innovation required to differentiate the product from the competition plays a crucial role. Accurate time to market comparisons can only be made when the start and end points of the stopwatch are clearly defined, and the scope and risk profiles of the two development projects are thoroughly understood.
What Are Typical Time To Market Rates Across Industries?
The duration of time to market can significantly differ based on the type of product, its complexity, and the industry in which it operates. For instance, the pharmaceutical industry typically experiences a lengthy time to market of around ten years, whereas a consumer social app can undergo the entire process of conceptualization, research, design, prototyping, and launch in less than a year. Ultimately, the time to market varies according to the intricacies of the product and the regulatory landscape it must navigate.
Even within the same industry, there exists substantial variation in time to market due to the complexity and architectures of different products. Developing a completely innovative platform with untested technologies naturally requires more time compared to making significant improvements on an existing offering or implementing incremental enhancements. The ability to expedite product launches largely depends on understanding the product’s complexities and exploring alternative approaches.
Consider the findings from research conducted in the automotive industry. A study conducted between 2017 and 2018 revealed that 71% of the sampled automotive products progressed from concept to launch in under two years. The time to market in this industry was categorised into different segments, with longer durations primarily associated with major clean sheet platforms and significant variants (derivatives).
Despite the notable variation in time to market, even within established products in the same industry, research conducted by KPMG in 2015 established typical time to market ranges across various industries. However, specific data and a comprehensive comparison table are unavailable in the provided context.
How Can Time To Market be Used Strategically?
Time to market holds significant importance in product development strategies, but it must be balanced with other factors such as features, innovation, and product quality. The interplay between these factors determines the success or failure of a product in the market, depending on its nature and target audience. It is important to recognise that a fast time to market does not always guarantee success if the product requires further development in key areas.
One effective approach to drive speed and predictability in time to market is to adopt a release cycle consisting of major and minor releases. A notable example is observed in the semiconductor industry, where companies like Intel and AMD follow a tick-tock release cycle. This means that after a major release (tick), a minor release (tock) follows. This approach allows innovative products requiring a major release a two-year path to market, mitigating associated risks.
In the case of mobile handsets, companies like Apple employ supercycles that span three years, with each year dedicated to specific themes such as bug fixes (year one) and performance enhancements (year two). However, it is essential to consider the specific industry and business context. If your organisation is not focused on platform-based products like Apple or Intel, it may be beneficial to expedite products with moderate levels of quality to market, particularly if their life cycles are short or if the competitive offerings are generally weak. However, for certain products, such as those in the healthcare space where low quality could have severe consequences, delaying the launch to improve quality may be a better trade-off.
Even when a product is not a matter of life or death, rushing its release without meeting customer expectations can create an opportunity for competitors to excel in terms of quality, despite entering the market later. Striking the right balance is crucial. Releasing a product hastily can lead to failure, but waiting too long to develop a fully refined product may cause you to miss the window of opportunity.
Another key aspect of reducing time to market is closely monitoring cycle time itself. It is vital to measure the time from the initiation of the team to the moment the product becomes available for sale. This applies across various industries. By comparing your time to market against the optimal time, normalised by complexity, you can gauge your performance. Naturally, the time required for minor tweaks to existing products will differ from breakthrough or new-to-the-world products.
In certain cases where the feature set and quality level allow flexibility, organisations benefit from identifying the minimum viable product (MVP) required for an early release. The MVP represents the version of a new product that enables the collection of maximum validated learning about customers with minimal effort. While an MVP can be as simple as a slide deck or a basic product description, it typically refers to a version of the product with limited features or functionality used for testing or as an initial release. Developers can then iteratively improve the MVP based on customer feedback.
Since customers are the ones who can define the perfect product, the MVP strategy enables innovation, market share growth, and revenue increase, while continuously incorporating customer insights to refine the product. Delaying the release by striving for perfection often hampers business goals such as revenue and customer satisfaction. Successful technology leaders recognise the importance of early market entry while iterating and rapidly enhancing products based on customer feedback, leading to increased market share and success.
How Do You Reduce Time to Market in Product Development?
While there is no magic formula for enhancing time to market, several established practices have proven effective in expediting the process.
Add More Resources
One way to expedite the launch of a product in the short term is by increasing the allocation of resources to the project, aiming to swiftly complete the remaining tasks. By injecting additional funds, personnel, testing capabilities, and other necessary elements into the project, a company can gain a competitive advantage in reaching the final stages promptly.
Furthermore, collaborating with development partners who can share the workload can be beneficial. Nonetheless, it is crucial to trust your instincts and refrain from adding more people if it will hinder the project’s progress. Instead, focus on diverting non-essential tasks away from the dedicated resources. This approach is likely the most effective method for enhancing time-to-market.
Create Dedicated Teams
A dedicated team is fundamental to driving innovation and speed. Regular team meetings foster accountability and maintain momentum. Moreover, ensuring that the team possesses the necessary functions and skills, available at the right time and place, helps minimise non-value added time.
Cross-functional teamwork has long been recognised as a best practice for achieving fast time to market. To gather information about various functions within a team, LinkedIn can serve as a valuable resource. Additionally, platforms like Upwork can be utilised to outsource critical skill gaps and support your company’s needs.
Reduce MVP Scope
When being the first to enter the market is crucial and carries significant risks, sacrificing features or quality to shorten the development cycle should be considered as a last resort. Usually, making last-minute changes are risky; however, if time is the primary determinant of the project’s success, compromising on features or quality might be a viable choice.
Additionally, analysing the competition can provide insights into which features hold greater importance, allowing you to prioritise what truly matters. By diligently monitoring market dynamics and implementing effective product lifecycle management practices, your team can identify opportunities to make time-saving tradeoffs.
To expedite product development, it is essential to adopt a lightweight yet consistent process and leverage it for speed. Teams should be measured on their adherence to this process to eliminate inefficiencies. Regularly reassess and enhance customer input, design, and prototyping procedures. Automation tools like Jira or similar alternatives can be utilised to automate development tracking and reduce time to market. These tools provide real-time insights into workflow, enabling the identification of bottlenecks.
Many successful organisations have embraced an agile process that emphasises customer input and iterative development based on feedback. They have integrated agile principles into all functions that collaborate with the team while maintaining a few key milestones, effectively combining agile and waterfall methodologies. Agile sprints are nested within the phases of the process, bridging the gap between agile and waterfall approaches.
Furthermore, it is crucial to improve project management and scrum master roles. Having an efficient process alone does not guarantee effective project or process management. Competent and experienced project and product management teams play a vital role. Strong processes, coupled with skilled project management, result in faster outcomes. Automation can be beneficial, not only through Jira tracking but also through tools like Asana and Trello, which can be valuable for Agile methodologies.
Create a Strategic Approach
In addition to these tactics, taking a strategic approach is crucial to drive time to market, using speed as a guiding principle, like a North Star. This can involve developing platforms that act as launching pads for product families. It may also entail reducing variations and allocating scarce resources to critical and essential products.
Alternatively, the focus could be on specific market opportunities. Having a productive platform that generates successive product iterations enables a company to make effective product selection decisions.
Achieving good product portfolio management relies on three key factors:
- Clear new product development strategy
- Involvement of senior management
- A consistent process for evaluating product concepts
Implementing a reliable front-end development system that aligns with the overall corporate strategy and facilitates day-to-day decision-making is pivotal in efficiently bringing early-stage ideas to full funding. Building the capability to reduce time to market as an organisational strength necessitates supporting new product concepts with appropriate governance, funding, and a consistent process for selecting competing ideas.
How Does Agile Improve Time To Market?
Agility and time-based competition are closely intertwined. The Scrum approach eliminates the barrier between the market and the product concept by swiftly transitioning the initial idea or concept into real-world usage conditions. The team promptly incorporates customer feedback into the products, continuously testing different versions with real customers.
Agile methodologies work in harmony with formal escalation processes. We have observed that a lean-agile approach yields the greatest impact on reducing time to market by empowering teams and maintaining regular customer engagement.
Some extensively elaborate Agile implementations can burden teams and result in delayed product launches. On the other hand, a lean agile approach accelerates time to market by bringing the market environment into the laboratory or workspace, mitigating engineer burnout, and improving efficiency through increased code output of high product quality.
Agile is not a rigid formula and its core principles can be applied in organisations of all types. The agile mindset’s most valuable aspects for compressing time to market today are its emphasis on customer and stakeholder feedback, adaptability through rapid learning, and organisational resilience.
How Can a Product Development Strategy Cut Time to Market?
To what extent do you aspire to be an innovator? Many leaders strive for innovation and prompt responsiveness to market demands. However, it is important to recognise that the traditional notion of a tradeoff between innovation and speed is a false dichotomy, often leading us in the wrong direction when contemplating these concepts.
It is now possible to bring a groundbreaking and innovative idea to market swiftly, but it is crucial to understand the inherent tradeoffs and have clarity regarding the nature of what you are creating. Will it be a minimal viable product (MVP) that may consist of a basic slide deck or a fully-fledged comprehensive product? Are you developing a next-generation platform? Can you make informed tradeoffs in your product portfolio that align with your overall strategy and risk tolerance?
In a rapidly evolving landscape, products, projects, and companies emerge and disappear at an accelerated pace. Responding rapidly to market changes in any of these domains is a precursor to success in such a dynamic environment. A well-defined product development strategy determines the optimal timing for product releases while honing your capabilities minimises the time to market. However, when it comes to speed, adaptability, fast learning, and resilience are the key factors at play.
How Can I Speed Up My Time To Market?
Reducing your time to market is crucial for your organisation, but determining how to achieve it can be a challenging task. Explore these five key areas to identify a strong starting point for the optimisation process:
1. Manage and Optimise Workflows
One of the initial measures to reduce your time to market is gaining control over your workflows. Through careful analysis of your workflows, you can identify steps that can be eliminated, bottlenecks that cause delays, instances of resource overbooking or underutilization, and numerous other areas for improvement.
2. Shorten Approval Processes
Effective approval processes are vital for successful product or campaign launches, as they ensure smooth operations and the delivery of the best possible end product. However, these processes can be time-consuming due to the involvement of multiple stakeholders.
Therefore, a valuable approach to reducing your overall time to market is to closely examine your approval processes. To explore this topic further and discover strategies for streamlining your approval rounds to just one, we invite you to register and download our comprehensive whitepaper.
Automation is a pivotal factor in optimising your time to market. While you may have heard this before, it is essential to understand how automation can truly benefit your organisation. By automating specific aspects of your workflow, you can save time and mitigate the risk of human errors such as missed deadlines or using incorrect versions of critical information.
Moreover, automation enhances communication within your team. When tasks and due date notifications are managed by the system, team members no longer need to spend valuable time deciphering when and what is required from them or constantly following up on the progress of the process. However, this is merely scratching the surface as automation presents countless opportunities to save time and allocate resources efficiently.
4. Integration is Everything
Marketing campaigns and product development involve extensive data, communication, blueprints, and various other resources. The responsible team is often dispersed across multiple departments, in addition to external stakeholders such as freelancers, suppliers, and agencies. Given this unavoidable reality, ensuring the shortest possible time to market requires constant accessibility of data and materials to all relevant parties, regardless of their location or time zone.
Therefore, a crucial step towards optimising time to market is finding a solution that integrates all systems and tools utilised throughout the campaign process. This integration ensures that all information, data, and materials are stored in a centralised location, preventing delays caused by the unavailability of the latest versions. If you are interested in exploring your options, considering an application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) solution like the Encodify system could be the next logical step to seamlessly integrate all your systems.
While it is crucial to bring your campaign or product to market quickly, the ability of your organisation to adjust to unforeseen changes in regulations, demand, marketing channels, and other factors during the process is equally important.
If your organisation lacks adaptability, there is a higher likelihood of experiencing a longer overall time to market or, worse, launching a product or campaign that falls short of the required standards. By focusing on enhancing adaptability, you can mitigate risks and ensure a smoother and more successful Time to Market journey.
Time To Market Checklist
Check out the resource below to download a time-to-market checklist, to ensure that you’re on track to reducing the time it takes to launch your next project.
Why Is Time To Market Important For Business?
Time to Market (TTM) represents the duration required for a product to transition from its initial concept to being available in the market. The importance of TTM stems from the fact that delays can limit the potential market share for companies selling their products. Introducing a product late can result in a narrower window of opportunity for generating revenue and expediting the product’s obsolescence.
How Do You Improve Time To Market?
To enhance and streamline time to market, it is beneficial to embrace advanced digital technologies such as cloud-based Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) or Quality Management System (QMS) software. These solutions provide several advantages, including:
- Establishing real-time communication with your supply chain partners, enabling greater visibility into potential part shortages and other issues that can impact production.
- Shortening Engineering Change Order (ECO) cycles through automated reviews and approvals, reducing the time required for implementing necessary changes.
- Consolidating bills of materials (BOMs), quality documents, design files, and other essential records into a single source of truth. This eliminates confusion related to design versions and the latest builds, resulting in reduced rework and fewer production delays.
How Does Time To Market Help With A New Product Launch?
Having a streamlined and efficient product development process in your company plays a vital role in accurately forecasting the product’s market entry. This process optimisation also enables you to effectively plan the product launch, ensuring it occurs at the right place and time for maximum impact.
Why is Time To Market Important?
The significance of time to market cannot be emphasised enough, as a delay in product release can result in missed revenue opportunities, loss of market share, and reduced customer satisfaction. Conversely, achieving a faster time to market can provide a substantial competitive edge for a company.
What is Time To Market in KPI?
Time to market refers to the duration it takes for a product or service to transition from the conceptual stage to reaching the market. A shorter time to market enables a quicker realisation of return on investment. Additionally, this measure provides insights into the efficiency of design and internal management processes associated with the overall process.
What is the Difference Between Time To Market and Speed To Market?
What does Time to Market mean? Time to Market, or TTM, refers to the duration between the initiation of a product and its preparedness for launch. This term is closely related to Speed to Market and is frequently used interchangeably.
Why Has Time To Market Become Increasingly Important in Project Management?
The drive for speed to market is fueled by various factors, including customers’ insatiable desire for new features, corporate growth objectives, shorter product life cycles, and pressure from senior management. Consumers, especially in the mobile handset industry, have come to expect a continuous stream of improved features on a yearly basis.
In the B2C software industry, technology companies often utilise the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to reduce time to market. Although this approach carries some risks in terms of customer satisfaction, it allows teams to rapidly deliver a version with essential features only.
Strategic use of time to market involves shaping the product portfolio to align with the desired objectives. This includes determining whether the product is a long-term investment platform or a quick-to-market offering, and whether it is innovative or simply following existing trends.
Now that you’ve learnt more about reducing the time to market of your new project, read our guide to validating your idea, so you can ensure that your project launch succeeds. Alternatively, check out our guide to creating a Minimum Marketable Release for your product.