Every business constantly seeks a competitive advantage, that one thing that makes customers choose them over others.
Regardless of size, sector or budget, to remain in business, there has to be a unique something that they do ‘better’ than the everyone else. Some use strategic alliances, technology or employees, as sources of competitive advantage, but not all of these can be used in every situation.
However, one principle, better speed to market, has been shown to have a consistently positive effect on financial success.
But it wasn’t always the case, as pursuing speed to market was considered optimal for use, only if:
- it was a high performance product
- there were long product life cycles
- high number of sales with low development costs
While this may have been true a few decades, technological advancements have removed such constraints. These days, with better production processes, shorter feedback loops, multiple marketing opportunities, businesses can go from concept to finished product in a matter of days.
By shortening the amount of time it takes a business to execute an urgent sales opportunity, a new product design, new marketing campaign, businesses can reap huge rewards.
Apart from a first-mover advantage, improved speed to market leads to:
- better revenue margins
- more efficient managerial practices
- the business becoming more familiar with the market, leading to fewer surprises in the long run
Can these benefits help your business?
If so, here are five ways to improve on speed to market:
1. Implement a well-defined yet scalable process
Faster speed to market starts with a thorough examination of your business process.
Take a few steps back and examine what is working; use this 10,000 foot view to identify bottlenecks in moving from an idea to a finished concept.
When you have identified the processes that work, it’s time to build a scalable process that eliminates downtimes and minimizes handoffs.
By detailing the steps required, valuable resources are also not dissipated across too many projects, which is a major cause of projects stalling. Concentrating limited resources on deserving projects ensures the right tasks get done better and faster.
2. Automate Essential Processes
A well-defined workflow allows you know what resources (tools and personnel) need to be deployed to achieve desired goals. The pursuit of faster speed to market can benefit from process automation.
By making these essential operations, approval of processes and reporting, as automated as possible, faster management decisions can be made. This ultimately leads to quicker signing off on projects.
3. Use Outsourcing
Visualizing the process is one thing; but what if you don’t have the resources required to complete said process?
Purchasing new equipment and training new staff is possible, but it defeats the pursuit of speed.
To counter this, businesses are encouraged to contract or outsource services that are required for business growth, but they lack the in-house capacity for.
4. Minimum Viable Product First
The concept of increasing speed to market allows businesses test the market and see what it will bear. In creating a product or services that satisfies this, it’s helpful to remember that it doesn’t have to 100% perfect from the beginning.
The point of offering it to consumers quickly is so you can get feedback, just as quickly.
Some analysts call it experimenting, others say it’s ‘failing fast,’ we simply say ‘get the minimum viable product out there, and let your customers choose which features they want.’
5. Aim to Remain Flexible
In every industry, there seem to be companies that seem to be ‘moving at warp speed.’
However, this is simply a function of being responsive, flexible and constantly innovating.
Being loose enough to react to changes and pivot where needed, while staying rigid enough not to be totally derailed, is what gives companies like Apple their ‘inexhaustible’ staying power.
By continually collecting and analysing market information, teams can remain agile especially when making important decisions.
Increase your speed to market this quarter, by implementing these five tips. They will help your business get ready and stay ready.
Curious about more ways to get your product to your customer faster and gain an edge against your competition by accelerating your feedback cycle?