In the modern consumer market, it is absolutely essential to improve time to market. The ability to capitalize on an idea requires a streamlined process. From concept to manufacturing to distribution, each stage must be approached strategically to respond to current consumer demands one step ahead of the competition.
This, however, is easier said than done. The marketplace is filled with agile, innovative producers vying for the same market share. Reducing time to market requires systematic reliance on proven methods for shortening the process at each stage. Here are a few of the methods successful companies rely on to improve time to market for their global solutions and products.
Advantages of Reduced Time to Market
There are several reasons you don’t want your product to hit the market behind your competition. You’ve probably thought of some of them already. In addition to losing out simply by not being there, your company loses industry standing by being a follower and not a leader. Even with an inferior product, your competitors can dominate the market simply by meeting the need first.
Every innovation and industry evolution is an opportunity – an opportunity for you or for your competition to reaffirm relevance to the consumer. It is important to improve time to market for at least three reasons:
1. Each new product, innovation, or improvement results in a brief period of hype and excitement in the market. This spotlight shines brightest on those pioneering the change. Being first to market means enjoying the shine.
2. Another benefit of agility and speed is the ability to capitalize on windows of opportunity when they open. Often, those windows are open only for a brief time. Speed translates into more opportunities.
3. Companies with a reputation for being innovators and quick responders to market trends enjoy a cumulative effect. Each successfully timed response translates into momentum. This in turn creates more credibility and marketing impact for each new launch.
How to Improve Time to Market
Manufacturers can greatly improve time to market by following one or more of these proven methods. From shortening cycle times to being more customer-centric, the benefits of following these steps are significant.
Automating labor-intensive processes can improve time to market by reducing opportunities for human error. Manual tasks that can be automated means fewer mistakes and faster delivery.
2. Predictable Schedules
Establishing clear, predictable schedules and workflows allows employees and managers to more efficiently execute tasks. Consult previous workflows to establish norms and identify opportunities for improvement. Predictability affords efficiency and speed to everyday processes.
3. Problem Detection
Be proactive in identifying potential failure points and problems to address them ahead of time. Much time is lost when a failure or breakdown occurs. Reaction times can be reduced by forethought, and preventive maintenance can almost eliminate the problems outright.
4. Lean Manufacturing
Implement lean manufacturing principles to overhaul the production process. Lean principles, first developed in post-war Japan, emphasize waste reduction and flow to increase productivity. Western concepts of production are rapidly giving way to this Eastern approach that allowed Japanese companies to outcompete Western manufacturers in the latter half of the 20th century.
5. Quality and Compliance
These are your first priority. But they don’t have to get in the way of speed. In fact, establishing clear and consolidated standards for quality and compliance can help you improve time to market. Maintaining non-negotiable standards leads to predictability, clarity, and steady delivery of a winning product. Substandard products can increase time to market through compliance reviews and other problems downstream.
6. Customer Focus
Customer purchasing is determined by customer perception of value, not actual performance per say. Understanding your customers use of the product and their perception of value can remove unnecessary steps or better align specs with user needs and demands.
7. Smart Outsourcing
Smart outsourcing allows companies to quickly scale in response to market demands. A customizable workforce at your fingertips frees up resources for market anticipation and innovation. Outsourced production is often more streamlined and specialized, allowing for the most rapid process at each stage.
These proven strategies allow successful companies the world over to improve time to market and meet ever-changing customer demands. Each of these methods can powerfully impact your process. Combining these strategies may revolutionize your efficiency and market share.
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