Learn about time to market (TTM) metrics, why they are important, and how you can implement them to achieve an agile product design process.
This article is based on a Raconteur report about the democratization of product design. You can download your copy of the full report here.
Product marketing is not a stagnant environment, so your product shouldn’t exist in one either. Ever since digital tools entered the market, the term “agile product design” has been at the forefront of the design process conversation. Agile product design means a shorter duration of time between ideation, production, and manufacturing. Thanks to continuous improvement efforts in the design process (aided by cloud-CAD software like Autodesk Fusion 360), designers have seen a consistent decrease in the time to market (TTM) for a broad spectrum of products.
A product’s success can be directly tied to its TTM. A product that is developed efficiently to get to market ahead of the competition can gather a larger slice of the market share. This means the product can build sales, loyalty, and brand awareness while others are left behind, stagnating in the pre-production deluge.
What is the agile product design process?
The agile design process is all about collaboration. Broader initiatives are broken down into subtasks achieved during design ‘sprints.’ Teams then get together during short, informal ‘scrum’ meetings to provide regular updates and collaborate on determining next steps. This process repeats until the larger goal is complete.
This process translates well to the product design industry, where teams must work quickly to bring products to market. The agile product design process mimics the process above and typically includes lots of sketching and prototyping.
What is time to market?
Time to market (also referred to as TTM) is the length of time between ideation/conception to entering the market as a consumer good. TTM can also be synonymous with being first to market, but that’s not always the case. There are times when it might not be best to be first. However, current trends and increasingly innovative competition indicate that quicker is better in most cases.
Releasing at the right time requires adaptability and resilience. Companies can use TTM metrics to measure new product development (NPD) and product introduction (NPI) to gain advantages (e.g., market share, sales revenue, reduced research and development (R&D) costs, and brand loyalty) over the competition. As a rule of thumb, the more streamlined your process is for producing a product, the easier it is to know when and how to put your product on the market.
Why is TTM important, and how do you measure it?
Timing a release is one of the most important metrics for ensuring a product’s success and maintaining a competitive differentiation. Failing to adapt and improve time to market to meet consumer demand will inevitably result in a failed product — even if the design is perfect. A well-made and functional product made today might be better than a perfect product design next year since your window of opportunity for releasing it and standing out in the market might have passed.
Speeding up your TTM means you need to know how to measure it and improve your processes. The first step to measuring TTM is identifying what you are measuring and why. You can measure the calendar days, months, or years it takes to bring a concept to market, the labor involved, the cost, or a combination of thereof. Usually, the TTM is simply the weeks or months for a team to create the design and then push it to the market/consumer.
A team can begin measuring TTM in the earliest stages from the moment a budget is approved, but it can depend on the team or vary based on company processes. Above all, it’s critical to account for TTM early in the design process.
Make sure to be as consistent and specific as possible to avoid comparing apples to oranges. Products with different use cases, end users, and/or BOM costs will require different TTM estimates. Once you define the product and its design lifecycle, you can work towards improving TTM.
Improving time to market with agile product design & Fusion 360
Improving your product’s time to market can be as simple as following these five steps:
- Increase the committed resources.
- Release an MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
- Follow a collaborative agile product design process.
- Develop products and services with a dedicated team.
- Create a strategy to shape the product portfolio for speed.
Another way to improve time to market is to implement advanced digital technologies. This includes cloud-based product lifecycle management (PLM) or quality management system (QMS) software like Autodesk Fusion 360.
Fusion 360 enables you to do the following:
- Establish real-time communication with your supply chain partners.
- Gain greater visibility into part shortages and other issues that impact production.
- Shorten your engineering change order (ECO) cycles through automated reviews and approvals.
- Aggregate bills of materials (BOMs), quality documents, design files, and other essential records into a single source of truth.
With Fusion 360, you can collaborate on everything from conceptual designs to prototyping from anywhere on the globe.
Download Fusion 360 today to reduce your time to market and smash the competition, and download your copy of the full report here.