Getting your idea out into the world in the form of a mobile app or another digital product is no small feat. It’s also a balancing act where you have to work with often limited resources to achieve a specific goal. On top of all that, you’re probably fighting against competitors and certainly against the clock.
In business, as opposed to many other life contexts, taking your time and enjoying the process may not be the best of ideas. Usually, you want to get to your destination as soon as possible.
In this post, we’ll talk about how to achieve faster time to market, as well as some adjacent topics, to provide a clearer picture of the importance of TTM.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you can’t or won’t enjoy your product development process. On the contrary, I think you absolutely should! However, you must also stay aware of the timeframe you’re working within.
What I mean by this is that a moment may come when sticking to the schedule and delivering on time will become the no. 1 priority for the team.
Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money and possibly missing on opportunities, including being able to pitch to new investors. Luckily, there are steps you can take to safeguard your team from a situation like this which we’ll cover later in this post.
What is time to market (TTM)?
In the simplest of terms, time to market is the period of time from product conception to it being available for purchase or use. If you come up with an idea for a mobile app today, the day it’s ready to be downloaded on the Apple Store or Google Play will mark your TTM.
Put simply, time to market is how long it takes for you to develop and launch a product.
When it comes to software development, time to market is a critical factor that can make or break a product's success. The faster a software product can be developed and released to its target audience, the more likely it is to gain traction and thrive. This is because a shorter TTM allows companies to stay nimble, respond quickly to changing market demands, gain a competitive edge, and seize revenue opportunities.
Today's fast-paced business environment makes TTM increasingly important, as technology evolves rapidly and customer expectations continue to soar. People want products that cater to their needs and are delivered quickly. The longer it takes to bring a product to market, the greater the risk of losing potential customers to competitors.
Why is time-to-market important?
Deadlines are an inherent part of business and there’s a good reason for it. Aside from quality, the overall success of the product will strongly depend on it being launched in the right time frame.
It’s generally assumed that TTM is particularly important for trailblazing products but being late to the market won’t serve you well in any circumstances. By postponing the launch, you’re closing the window of opportunity, eroding the target market, and risking the product to become obsolete which of course is impacting the potential revenue.
A six-month delay will on average cost companies a 33% drop in revenue, according to a McKinsey study.
On the other hand, reducing time to market is a viable goal to strive for, as it brings a number of desirable outcomes, including:
- Competitive advantage – being first to market can help you become the industry leader.
- Reduced R&D costs – the faster the product is out in the market, the less money its development process consumes, especially significant if your product idea requires testing the market-fit.
- Improved customer satisfaction – being faster to market means you’re able to meet users’ needs quicker than competition.
- Bigger market share – while the competition is still in development, you’re already offering a product, building brand awareness and customer loyalty.
- Increased revenue – resulting from reduced costs and a bigger cut of the market.
- Being able to look for new investors – once you have at least an MVP out and thus something to show for, it’ll be easier to attract and convince investors to back the further development of your product.
Overall, you want to release your product at the right time, and not necessarily as soon as possible, however, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. The best time to launch may be now indeed or relatively soon, so being able to accelerate time to market is still something you should account for in your plans.
How do you measure time to market?
There isn’t a single way to measure TTM, mostly because it’s difficult to clearly define the starting point. Does app development begin on the day the general idea crystalizes in your head, the day you sit down to outline its general architecture, or the day you assemble the team and the first lines of code are written? Ideally, there isn’t much time in between these stages, and you’re able to clump them all together into a single, rough starting point.
Aside from financing, not being able to staff the project in a prompt manner, should any unexpected obstacles arise, and which will extend TTM, may be the biggest danger you should have an emergency plan for.
Then, there’s also the issue of defining the end point which will vary across industries but for digital products it can be the previously mentioned day when the app is officially ready to be used by a wide audience or perhaps when a certain number of users is reached.
To better understand what it will take to bring your product to the market, you may want to attempt to collect and analyze relevant information in your niche first, if it’s available.
When analyzing time to market of other companies, consider factors such as the scope of the project, risk levels, and the degree of innovation. Add to that the overall product design, tech stack employed, and the amount of manpower involved.
Importantly, despite the definitions not being very concrete, what truly matters when competing with other organizations is how capable yours is of a faster product release in order to win the advantages listed in the previous section.
How do you reduce time to market in product development
Now that we’ve established that TTM is indeed an important metric affecting the success potential of your product, let’s discuss how you can reduce time to market to launch your creation faster AND smarter.
Estimate required budget
Getting excited about having an awesome idea for an app is fine and understandable, but it’s best to look before you leap. “How much will it cost?”, – may be among the most popular and important questions startup founders ask themselves.
You want to avoid a situation where you haven’t estimated the budget properly, and this can be tricky, to a point where you can’t even deliver an MVP. Thus, I suggest you have a look at our MVP development cost calculator to get an idea of how much bringing your app or similar digital product to life may cost.
It may also help you understand the various options and features you should consider in order to assemble the most complete team, skill-wise and tech-wise.
Reduce scope and build an MVP
Defining the scope of your product is crucial, as it helps you clearly see what is expected to be delivered at the end of the development process and bring the team in alignment. Without a sharply spelled out scope, you’re risking going way overboard or entirely missing your objectives.
A detailed project scope is definitely needed but on the other hand, sticking to it too rigidly may prevent you from testing the feasibility of your idea in the real world and collecting valuable feedback. You might want to get your feet wet faster and accelerate time to market by opting for a minimum viable product instead of waiting to launch its final version.
Take a look at this guide about how to build an MVP in order to learn about validating your idea and eventually improving time to market.
Follow agile development process
Agile product development is a widely assumed methodology allowing teams to work efficiently, respond to any changes in requirements that may occur, and deliver quality products on time, meeting end-user needs.
The agile framework involves the following:
- Define the product vision and goal – what exactly is it that you want to achieve? This keeps the team on the same page.
- Create a product backlog – list all the features, functions, and user stories required for your product.
- Plan and prioritize – figure out which items from the backlog are the most important and get to them first.
- Plan a sprint – pick a bunch of backlog items and assign them to a sprint defined in time.
- Develop and test – start developing and testing the items during a sprint. This requires cross-team collaboration to ensure the features are built as per user requirements.
- Review – once a sprint is finished, review what’s been done and present the completed items to stakeholders. This stage allows for feedback to be included in the development process.
- Rinse and repeat – keep on with the cycle until the product backlog is cleared.
Outsource to an experienced software development agency
Outsourcing some of the work to a third-party vendor is a viable strategy to speed up software development and reduce time to market. Time is a major saving, but you also trim down the costs and can refocus your team on the main goals or solving certain pressing matters.
The general idea here is to delegate a portion of the development work to a team of dedicated external specialists who will help you stick to deadlines and perhaps even proceed in multiple areas simultaneously. Your team can then focus on its core business and allocate resources where they’ll generate the most value.
The external partner may possess skills, expertise, and even experience your team may be short on as far as specific technologies and industries go.
Outsourcing is a flexible way for you to scale up or down without having to hire developers long-term. This also brings the manpower and / or tech investment risk level down.
RST Software and our MVP development services
The big takeaway from this post is that once you have a good idea of the direction you’d like to take your new product into, there isn’t really much value in postponing its launch. Faster time to market brings a number of significant advantages that you simply can’t ignore, especially since you’re going against both customer needs and competitor actions.
There are several strategies you can employ to achieve faster product release and one of the wisest of them may be the development of a minimum viable product (MVP) which resembles an early launch and holds benefits of its own.
Now, since insufficient manpower can prove to be a major roadblock in the product development process, you may consider remedying it by outsourcing a share of the work to an external IT partner.
RST Software has so far helped 100+ companies in various niches level up their operations with software solutions meeting modern day expectations. Take a look at the case studies and testimonials by our clients to learn more about our areas of expertise.
RST is here to help you accelerate product development in a healthy way, without having to resort to skipping process steps in hopes of reducing time to market which in the end may backfire on you instead of saving you time and money.