- How to get your product out there before a competitor does -
By: Mike Hoggatt, CEO at Leardon Solutions
When developing a new product, an entrepreneur or small business can rarely assume that the market will wait or that a competitor will not introduce something that’s smaller, better, faster, and at a lower price point before you’re ready. Therefore, reducing time-to-market is a key requirement for business success and can be a competitive advantage. Here are four tips that will help your organization do that:
Product Design Specification
A Product Design Specification can take on a variety of forms. Many times, it’s not just one document, but a collection. Whatever the form, when the design of the first prototype begins, it must have cross-organizational support that delivering to this specification will produce a viable product (price, features, product cost, investment and schedule) in the market place without additions, modifications or deletions. This may not be completely achievable in the real world of product development, but a specification with “creeping features” can produce major design resets, adds complexity and produces secondary defects that will lengthen time-to-market as well as increase investment and potential product costs.
The team that can design, build, test and fix (DBTF) rapidly has a huge market advantage. The integration of concurrent engineering efforts, shorter DBTF cycles for subsystems with periodic fully integrated product builds, fast tooling suppliers, and taking advantage of the plethora of fast fabrication methods for all parts can contribute to taking weeks off product development schedules.
When trying to shorten your time-to-market, incremental design and innovation must be taken into consideration. If design of complex systems was easy, then there wouldn’t be a need for iterative cycles. It would simply be design, build and ship. However, it’s very difficult and trying to create the “does everything” product in order to kill the competition will guarantee cost overruns, schedule slips and late specification changes. The essence of incremental innovation is to complete the product development cycle numerous times over a period of time which results in significantly greater organizational learning, revenue generation and market understanding.
It’s essential that the development team should be cross-organizational. At the very least, members from marketing and manufacturing should be working with R&D. While the team’s size will be driven by the project, many times, there are just too many people involved in the development. Having the right balance of full-time versus part-time is the key to a small team. Maintaining team continuity for the entire length of development is important as well.
As product developers, we understand the urgency for companies to get their products to market before competitors and the importance of avoiding any major setbacks. If there’s a strong focus on product design specification, fast prototyping, incremental design and its development team, it should significantly improve an organizations time-to-market and set them up for greater success.
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