You might struggle to get your product out as fast as you’d like. After all, your project will involve a range of departments, across which you’ll have to split your time.
You might struggle to get your product out as fast as you’d like. After all, your project will involve a range of departments, across which you’ll have to split your time. You might also have multiple downstream consequences that will impact your product launch, such as the demand for media space to advertise your product.
Getting your product over the line faster, therefore, requires you to have visibility over all departments’ needs and deadlines. It requires you to know how each team and project phase fits together, so you can identify project risks and blockers ahead of time. And speed up your delivery as a result.
Let’s drill down into the 5 ways to improve your product’s speed to market.
5 Ways to Improve Speed to Market in Your Product Development Strategy
1. Project Planning
To ensure your product stays on the fast track, you must create a plan. This enables you to organize all your project elements and keep stakeholders on the same page.
When creating your plan, you should include the following:
- Key milestones. Knowing what these checkpoints are enables you to break down project phases into smaller tasks or deliverables. It means you can also implement a workflow for your product, establishing the place of each phase in the product lifecycle.
- Project risks. Risks are minor detours on the way to project completion—but only when you identify them early and create mitigation plans. Consider the risk of UX issues at the quality assurance testing phase. If you’ve not accounted for this possibility, the extra development work might result in unresolved dependencies. But, if you plan for a margin of error, you can avoid the additional work eating into other teams’ time.
- Convergence points. These are key moments in your project schedule when two or more components must meet to allow the project to move forward, such as working on multiple features before sending the product to the QA team. To ensure you meet these convergence points, use a tool that allows you to link these interconnected deliverables. So all teams will have visibility over dependencies and understand the context around their tasks.
2. Resource Management and Capacity Planning
You know the deliverables and milestones that will get your product over the line. But who and what will help you complete them? By this, we mean your resources—your team members, raw materials, and the facilities you need to deliver your product.
Identifying these resources is the first step. But, to improve product speed to market, you must also identify the following:
- Scheduling conflicts: This goes for your facilities and teams, which will both have other projects in the pipeline. Also, your team members may have personal scheduling conflicts such as medical appointments or vacations.
- Resource risks: Geopolitical tensions and natural disasters, for instance, can make it difficult to get materials on time. They can also mean you’re competing with other organizations over raw materials, which can hike prices beyond what you can afford.
- Skills shortages: Your project may require skills your organization doesn’t currently have. This will mean you need to hire or outsource ahead of the project or upskill your current team members.
Then, you either establish when each resource will be available.) or take measures to secure alternates (in the case of overpriced materials). After this, informed by the project plan, you can establish timelines for each task and deliverable. And, hopefully, expedite deadlines.
3. Standardizing Processes and Ensuring Process Compliance
When you standardize processes for product development, anyone requesting resources, logging change requests, or escalating problems will have to go through set procedures. This will enable you to assess and approve next steps. It’ll also mean documenting all actions taken so you can keep track of any changes.
Standardizing processes and ensuring project compliance also means using data to make better-informed decisions about your product delivery. This means not only looking at information on the current market but also at historic data from your past projects.
Furthermore, if you use a PPM tool to collect the data, you can report all findings in a standardized format. So everyone in your organization can easily view and understand these crucial project insights.
4. Cross-Functional Communication
Cross-functional communication is a must for the speedy delivery of your product. It enables all teams to have visibility over any unresolved dependencies and redirect resources elsewhere. It also encourages out-of-the-box thinking that can result in innovative solutions to tired old problems.
And, let’s be clear— when we talk about cross-functional communication, we mean across all departments. That means your product and non-product teams. After all, your business development team will likely be the closest to your customers and therefore the first to hear if they or unhappy (or happy!) with how the product is progressing.
Cross-functional communication also ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page. This means it’s less likely you’ll have to change requirements late in the game. Instead, you can implement a continuous feedback loop that allows you to apply changes as you go.
5. Keeping Your Options Open
You’ve already identified your project risks. But optionality in project management is more than this. It’s about rolling with the punches — even the sucker punches you weren’t expecting. It helps you respond to issues without specifically having a mitigation plan for them. Essentially, it’s about being agile and shifting gears without pushing deadlines.
Consider the following scenario: you have a supplier in a nearby country. There are no geopolitical tensions, and the country is in a mild climate, unpopulated by volcanos and with no history of hurricanes.
However, a shift in the demand for the raw materials you need leads the country’s government to impose restrictions. This was an unforeseen risk that instantly becomes an issue.
But, by exercising optionality you will have:
- Created an entire list of alternate sources, not just one or two.
- Hired people with diverse skillsets, such as communication and problem-solving, to better address the problem at hand.
- Restricted dependencies within the product delivery, so the project can still move forward while you obtain materials.
Move Forward With Your Projects, Deliver Products Faster
Your product development requires a strategy to keep it ticking along. It should include various ways to not only meet deadlines but to try to deliver ahead of them. So you can improve your speed to market, and exceed stakeholder expectations.
That said, the demands of multiple departments and various downstream impacts mean you might struggle with product delivery. Our 5 tips to improve speed to market will help. But to ensure a faster TTM without losing focus on quality, you’ll need the following:
- Access to historic data to better predict project timelines
- Visibility over teams’ capacity and skillsets to ensure accurate resource allocation
- The ability to collaborate on documents, so teams can better work together
- Automated workflows that alert you of scheduling conflicts and dependencies
- A centralized hub for resources, so everyone can access all project information in one place
And of course, in the name of project efficiency and to facilitate speedier product delivery, all these capabilities should come in a singular tool.