Time to market: How to optimise the production process

Marketing Strategy

Tech giants like Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft have shown that innovation is critical to success. Yet innovation alone is not enough—products must also reach consumers in time.

After all, a delay in bringing your product to the market can be a major disadvantage, giving your competitors the opportunity to beat you to the punch. Meanwhile, particularly in the tech sector, some products could become outdated by release day, owing to the breakneck speed at which technology develops.

The window of opportunity for optimal pricing is also extremely small, meaning that a late release could diminish the product’s revenue potential.

The way to avoid any delays befalling your new products is to speed up their Time to Market (TTM) period. This refers to the time it takes to develop a product and release it, encompassing everything from idea generation and product design, to product development and launch.

The better organised and more effective your company’s production process is, the faster your TTM period will be. But how exactly can you optimise this process?

Streamline product information management

As a business grows, product information like core data (such as names and descriptions), specifications (including dimensions and packaging info), and attributes (like cost and pricing) end up being stored in multiple places.

This makes it hard to manage and can drag out your TTM as it becomes harder to repurpose old ideas for new products, which could otherwise speed up the production process. This way of doing things can also lead to fragmented, incompatible data, and also requires regular synchronisation, which wastes valuable time.

As such, a streamlined system of product information management (PIM) is essential, which is where PIM software comes in. These programs ensure that product data is centralised, facilitating easy management, up-to-date information, and uniform data. This is achieved through features like collaboration portals for data sharing and import mapping that collates data from existing databases.

There are numerous PIM systems on the market boasting different USPs, including systems tailored towards mechanical product manufacturers, retail-focused systems, and multilingual software. However, more companies are instead harnessing low-code development to create their own custom business apps, including PIM systems.

A major issue with off-the-shelf apps is that, while useful, they often don’t fit a company or company department’s unique specifications. This makes tailor-made programs, created with low-code development software, a much more effective—and cheaper—solution.

Low-code development platforms consolidate the basic tools needed to write software, letting individuals without coding skills create apps. Because almost anybody can do so, there’s no need to rely on existing PIMs. These platforms come with their own unique interfaces and systems for creating apps— EASA apps are built from existing spreadsheets or workflows, while Mendix features drag-and-drop components.

Create well-defined workflows

Workflows are sequences of business processes and if they are haphazard, or a business neglects to create them at all, this can massively affect your product’s TTM. Issues that can arise include reduced staff productivity owing to a lack of clarity on their duties, bottlenecks due to disconnects between different stages of the production process, and time wasted on menial tasks that can be automated.

As such, creating well-defined, efficient workflows is essential to speeding up your TTM. To do this, you’ll need to establish the exact jobs the process requires, how they link together, who is responsible for what, and roughly how long each task should take.

Well-defined workflows let you optimise the whole TTM process, offering benefits beyond staff clarity and a more fluid system of doing things. For instance, a well-defined workflow allows you to identify redundant tasks or tasks which can be automated, accentuate production by assigning duties based on staff strengths, and enable you to pinpoint where improvements can be made. Overall, this lets you plan out your product’s entire TTM from the start, giving you and your staff a concrete target to aim towards.

After devising workflows, it’s recommended that you make use of work management software to help you plan, organise, track, and review tasks. This lets you stick to your workflows and keep on top of what is happening during each stage.

Outsource certain jobs

Instead of relying solely on your company’s resources, which may be limited, a great way to speed up the TTM process is to outsource tasks. Indeed, 31% of all IT services in 2017 were outsourced, while 57% of businesses did so to allow their staff to focus on core tasks.

While you’ll probably still want to carry out major tasks in-house, contracting out certain jobs can speed up a product’s TTM by freeing up your staff’s time. Some of the tasks you might want to contract out include marketing, data handling, and even project management. Each of these jobs is time-consuming and in some cases are better off being handled by experts.

It is also easier than ever to hire appropriate individuals and companies with outsourcing sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru letting you find experts from various fields in almost no time. Those featured on the website are subjected to stringent vetting processes, ensuring you secure the services of qualified professionals.

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