Time-To-Market (TTM) is a hot topic presented and explained by a lot of product people. When it comes to implementing this for your product, there isn’t much information on how to do this. This article will drive you through the journey on how to apply TTM KPI in your organization.
What is Time-To-Market?
It’s a KPI—used mostly by the business—to measure the time required to move a product or service from conception to market (until it is available to be purchased). The process is the combined efforts of all stakeholders, product management, marketing, and so on. It includes workflow steps and strategies involved throughout the process. It’s usually calculated in days/weeks/months/years but it can be met in other forms too depending on how the different organizations will want to implement this. Bear in mind that it should be implemented in such a manner that it could better suit the needs of your organization.
For example, when we have received the board objectives and seen that we have to increase yearly profit by 30% I thought about how to do this. So I had an idea to increase the company portfolio with a stocks platform beside the crypto platform that was in use. I then documented the idea and had a meeting with the board to present all the aspects. After the proposal has been accepted I had to create a high estimation TTM for this product starting with staffing, creating the MVP and so on till the product will be available on the market.
Why is it important?
The shorter the time to market is, the quicker the return on investment (ROI) can be realized, therefore you can imagine why it’s important for businesses.
The quicker the product gets on the market, the bigger market share the company will get especially in an unaddressed segment facing less competition and thus enjoys better profit margins. Getting fresh and relevant products to market quickly attracts customers.
Product innovation also leads to increased brand recognition and perceived value. It’s also a measure of how quickly the organization innovates and it’s recommended to have short TTM cycles. However, be careful when trying to create short phrases and not fall into the trap of decreasing the product quality. This is a compromise that you cannot afford.
Nowadays, more than ever, it’s imperative to be the first on the market. However, as you know, it isn’t possible in some cases. The organization will have to fight for a bigger market share, with the product saturation and the late TTM. Make sure to have strong key differentiators to compensate all the minuses to succeed in these situations.
A few years ago, I was working in the domain industry when it was announced the launching of the new domain extensions. At that time all companies have struggled to be first on the market. So you can imagine that it was crucial to have the best TTM for our new platform, that will support the new domain extensions.
After creating the time to market, I have seen that it will take a while to develop the platform. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure that we will be the first on the market, so I have tried to find a way to decrease the estimations. Have analyzed all the stages and have seen that the development takes the most time.
It was then when I had a good idea to create a landing page where potential clients were able to show their interest by leaving their email addresses, so that we can contact them when they had the opportunity to reserve the desired domain. Doing this has given our company a smaller TTM and the opportunity to be the first on the market and to get a bigger share.
Most likely you’ve read a lot of articles about this topic. However, nobody is telling you how to implement it. I’ll share my experience on how to successfully implement time to market in your organization:
- Note down the workflow starting from conception to release
- Split it into steps
- Estimate every step in days/weeks (whatever is more suitable for your organization); make sure to involve all needed stakeholders for each stage to get a relevant estimate( for estimations use any technique, like planning poker etc., or any online tool that can be found on the internet)
- Sum the estimations to get the ideal TTM of your product
- Use a risk management tool to identify all the impediments that can occur in each stage and estimate them all
- Sum the new estimation to get the worst-case TTM of your product
- To get the product TTM, calculate the average between the ideal case and the worst-case scenario
An example of a risk management tool that can be used is the following:
What now? All done? Not really. If the resulting time to market for your product/services is not as good as expected, it’s time to try decreasing its value. Remember short cycles result in a faster return on investment (ROI).
Take a look at every stage of the workflow that you have created and remove everything that is unnecessary or inefficient (bottlenecks that prolong the process and much more). Make sure to have everything available to everyone, regardless of time and place. Doing so will make it clearer to the whole company who should be contacted for approval or guidance. Remove unnecessary people from meetings and be certain that everything is clearly understood by everyone. Poor communication is a common issue that slows down projects, especially if the organization is working with freelancers or other external stakeholders.
In our organization, we have identified that there is a lot of wasted time until certain tasks are moved from one department to another. That is why it has been decided to develop an internal tool, in which it’s visible, for everyone, how much time a task stays with a person and what the task status is. At the same time, it sends automatic notifications to all stakeholders, which has proven to be a good thing as it has decreased the wasted time and now the tasks are moving quicker.
Try automating processes to eliminate waste or errors. Humans tend to make mistakes and machines can help with this. At the same time, it will also speed up the processes and activate everyone, as they will receive notifications on all phases and will know exactly what’s next. The management will also be happy as it assures transparency and fluidity. There are plenty of good tools that can be used to automate the enterprise workflow. A good idea would be to read some reviews about them and select the one that most suits your business needs.
Improve time per step
Analyze all the steps that have been identified and try to reduce the time per step by discussing with the involved stakeholders. Decide on an approval process for all the steps, as these are essential for all products and this is one of the phases that might introduce big delays due to the unavailability of a certain stakeholder.
Due to the fact that the company is using a tool where the time for each step can be added and everyone is receiving notifications to know that he has only “x” days left to complete his job, the company has managed to improve time per step, as colleagues want to impress and finish more quickly.
Set revenue targets
Set a clear financial target to measure success, as this will motivate the team harder to succeed. Consequently, all the departments will know that they have to innovate in order to reach that target.
Adjust the MVP
When trying to reduce the TTM, it’s important not to reduce the quality of the product. It’s better to remove a non-essential feature from the MVP than to release something quicker but full of bugs. MoSCoW method or any other prioritization technique can help a lot.
In conclusion, a good TTM is important as speed is everything, you cannot afford to fail slowly, therefore first create a vision and start with step one. Try to sell your MVP as soon as possible. Ship fast and adapt fast, try to delight and wow early adopters as if you can sell it, you will be able to scale it.