7 Ways to Achieve Faster Time to Market

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Radek Zaleski

Updated Jun 17, 2024 • 11 min read
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You might have the greatest idea in the world. But if it takes you ages to bring it to the market, you’ll lose to a worse idea – just one with better timing.

A few years ago, Clayton Christensen dropped a real bombshell on the business world, saying that – out of 30,000 apps launched each year – 95% fail.

Does that mean you should forget about that hot idea of yours and open a fresh produce store or another ‘safe’ business instead?

You don’t necessarily have to (unless you really want to). One of the success factors is how quickly you can bring your app to the market. It doesn’t have to be perfect or complex – the key is to start collecting feedback from customers and iterate in line with what the market wants.

In this post, I’d like to zero in on time to market and tell you how you can speed it up.

Why is reducing time to market crucial?

There are a few main reasons:

  • You get a competitive advantage: cutting the time to launch your solution means you have fewer companies to fight with for user attention. Of course, it’s not about ‘getting there early’ only. It’s about ‘getting there early’, with a high-quality product.
  • You see money come in sooner: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The sooner you launch your product, the earlier you’ll see ROI and build a budget for further investments in your solution.
  • You secure early adopters: This user group is largely built from tech enthusiasts. And, since they love to try out new solutions, they’ll act as a great source of product feedback. This means you can make your product even better before the market becomes saturated.
  • You can build an industry leader image: If there are few solutions similar to yours, those who get to the market later will try to outpace, or even emulate you. And I truly believe that seeing a copycat or imposter of your solution is an indicator of success.

What affects time to market?

A few factors impact time to market, some you’ll be able to control, others you won’t.

  • Product complexity: The more complex your product is, the longer it will take to develop it. Think: more new features, processes, and potential problems – it’s as simple (or as complicated) as this.
  • Availability of resources: By resources I mean talent, funding and technology. The more resources you have, the faster you’ll be able to launch the product – in theory.
  • Regulations: If you operate in a highly regulated market like healthcare or finance, then getting all the necessary permissions and meeting regulatory standards can take time.

How long does it take to build a digital product?

They say you’re not supposed to answer a question with a question, but this one calls for an exception. How innovative and tech-savvy is the team that's going to build the product?

I agree with McKinsey that the pace at which you can deliver high-quality digital products is heavily influenced by these two factors. They call this jointly “world-class digital capabilities” and divide companies into three groups.

Those with ‘world-class’ capabilities can deliver a product in 8-12 weeks, while ‘traditional’ companies will take 1-2 years.

Yes, years – not weeks or months.

Of course, this timeline depends on how complex the solution is. Doing a revamp of an existing platform or building a simple app will take shorter than, say, creating a BI platform from scratch. Still, the disproportion will always be there, and ‘world-class’ teams will always win through faster time to market.

time to market; the impact of digital capabilities on developing new solutions

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It makes sense if we realize that the best product development teams can push up to 50 releases per day, while so-called ‘leading’ brands can only get to 1-4 per month, and laggards to 1-4 per year.

7 ways to reduce time to market

Alright, enough theory; here are the strategies I recommend to our clients to launch products faster.

Validate your product with fast MVP delivery

By definition, a Minimum Viable Product must be fast – but it can’t be rushed either. Believe me that it’s quite common for companies to get stuck on MVPs due to wrong market assumptions or over-engineering.

To avoid this, you should work with the right team – not only one with hard skills like coding, but also those who understand business and market demands. For example, our MVP consultants at Netguru run market research, help decide on the scope of features for the MVP, and then validate the product idea with insights from real users. By the end, you know which direction to expand your product in in later iterations to get a higher market share.

Speed up the development process with AI

Anyone who turns a blind eye to AI can also forget about outpacing competitors with their product. These tools are incredibly useful in the right hands and can help speed up both backend and frontend development.

For example, at Netguru, we use GitHub Copilot and design-to-code platform Locofy to speed up time to market. To give you a peek, here are some of the things they help with:

  • Improve code quality and catch bugs. AI can analyze your code and suggest improvements, lowering the number of errors.
  • Optimize MVP design. This is one of Locofy’s benefits. At Netguru, we use it to fine-tune Figma-based designs and make sure they’re ready for handover to developers.
  • Generate prototypes from code, using real code from your product. You don’t need to worry about discrepancies between design and code anymore.

Accelerate development with cross-platform solutions

If you want to launch your product on different platforms, either now or possibly sometime in the future, don’t settle on native app development. Go with a cross-platform solution instead.

In short, you only build one codebase and use it to run your app on multiple operating systems. This means you don’t need a separate iOS and Android team. Going with this approach will help you speed up time to market, since you’re significantly cutting the time and complexity of the project.

Build smarter with low-code/no-code

Years ago, writing code was the only option for building digital products. But luckily, times have changed, and now we can use low-code or no-code solutions to develop apps. I can confidently say that these tech marvels have revolutionized software development.

These platforms allow for rapid prototyping and iteration, meaning that new products can be launched really fast. And by ‘fast’ I mean the development time can be cut by over 50%. And the best part? They’re easy to use; less technical staff will be able to wrap their heads around them, which will democratize the product development process and most probably make it more creative.

With low-code platforms, the pressure to release new products faster will be even higher. So, if you still haven’t looked into low-code/no-code, you should probably do so now.

Put in place effective project management

With the rise of AI, new products pop up like mushrooms. If you want to stand a chance in this race, you need to put an effective project management process in place. There are many approaches you can take, but at Netguru we’re huge advocates for Agile.

It allows us to deliver on product requirements iteratively and incrementally. Users’ needs change and evolve with time. Short development cycles allow us to quickly respond to customer feedback. As a result, you can quickly launch a product that your clients will be satisfied with.

Ensure streamlined workflows

Reid Hoffman once said, “if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”. Speed of development is an important success factor, which can give you a competitive advantage. But to achieve speed, you need to optimize your workflows. Your product team must know what they need to deliver and when – and this calls for detailed documentation.

It should include timelines, tasks, resources, potential problems, and bottlenecks. Make sure it’s accessible to everyone. Transparency promotes higher engagement and invites team members to come up with improvements. Following Agile is the best way to streamline your workflows.

Leverage team extension

Finding top-notch specialists to work with is always a challenge. Is bringing full-time talent on board the only option? No, it’s not, and to be honest, it’s not the best one either. You could consider team extension instead.

It’s a type of work arrangement, where you can swiftly add necessary talent to a project without any delays or interruptions. This could be multiple engineering pros on a temp basis or remote setting.

Not only is this approach cost-effective, but it also fuels growth. No wonder the team extension market is set to reach $82 billion by 2025.

Better done than perfect – focus on speed and iterate later

Yes, competition is crazy in most industries, and an idea for a business won’t wait forever if you don’t validate it quickly. If you don’t do it, I assure you, someone else will.

The good news is you now have much more technological abilities than in the past to bring an innovative product to the market faster. Whether it’s rapid MVPs, AI-powered engineering, cross-platform or no-code – all you have to do is apply best practices and leverage digital acceleration.

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Radek Zaleski

Senior Partner at Netguru
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