What Is Time to Market? (Definition and Tips for Improvement)

In commerce, time to market (TTM) is the length of time it takes from a product being conceived until its being available for sale. The reason that time to market is so important is since being late erodes the addressable market into which producers have to sell their product.[1] A common assumption is that TTM matters most for first-of-a-kind products, but actually a late product launch in any industry can negatively impact revenues—from reducing the window of opportunity to generate revenues to causing the product to become obsolete faster.[2]

Time to Market (TTM) – defined

Why is time to market important?

Time to market is important because it allows you to develop a plan to launch your product effectively. It can help you create guidelines for your team, determine when the final product may be available for purchase and ensure you launch your product at an optimal time to meet your consumers needs. Understanding a products time to market can also help you:

What is time to market?

Time to market refers to the length of time between the conception of a new product idea and the moment when it reaches fruition. This typically includes the generation of an idea, the complete design cycle, all of the development stages and the final launch of the product into the market. Product development teams often use time to market as a key performance indicator (KPI) to track their progress. They can also use time to market to predict when they expect their product to be ready for consumers to purchase and to optimize their processes for future product development projects.

How to measure time to market

Here are some steps you can follow to measure the time to market for a specific product:

1. Identify what youre measuring

To begin, identify how you plan to measure your time to market. Depending on the product youre developing and your organizational processes, you might choose to measure:

While the most common time to market metric is the number of months or years it takes to launch the product, you may use a combination of any of these KPIs depending on your organizational goals.

2. Determine when to start measuring

Once youve established the metric you plan to use, determine when to start measuring your time to market. You might choose to begin measuring it as soon as you receive approval for the project, or you might wait until you have a formal budget and a designated team.

Many product development managers choose to start measuring their time to market as soon as their team begins working on the project. This may provide a more accurate measurement because it accounts for potential delays in approving the budget, assigning employees to the project or hiring and training new team members.

3. Decide when to stop measuring

Before you begin, define the moment you plan to stop measuring your time to market. You might measure your time to market until you develop the minimum viable product or until your product is available for purchase. Outline each phase of the product design, development, marketing campaign and product launch to help you visualize the entire process. This can help you determine whether its more beneficial to measure the entire product development project from beginning to end or a smaller section, such as the manufacturing of the product.

4. Develop an estimate

If you plan to use time to market as a KPI to measure your progress, take the time to estimate how long the entire project may take to complete. You can divide the project into smaller sections to make this easier. For example, you might develop an estimate for the product design, prototype development, research, manufacturing and the final product launch. This can provide you with guidelines to determine whether your team is on track.

5. Assess your teams performance

After you launch the product successfully, compare your estimated time to market to the amount of time it actually took to complete the project. Consider what went well and where there could be room for improvement. Then apply what you learned to future product development projects to improve your teams efficiency and develop more reliable time to market metrics.

Tips for improving time to market

Here are some additional tips to help you improve your time to market:

Establish revenue goals

Establish a revenue goal for your product development team to work toward. This financial target can help you allocate resources more effectively and measure the success of the final product launch. It can also motivate your team to be more productive and collaborate, which can speed up your time to market.

Consider outsourcing

Assess what your capabilities are as an organization. Then, determine whether there are external organizations that have complementary capabilities. Assess whether outsourcing parts of the development process to an external organization would speed up your time to market. For example, if you work for a manufacturing company, you might want your team to focus on the actual design and development of the product. By outsourcing the marketing to an external agency, you can ensure the target audience, price point and sales channels are well-defined prior to the product launch.

Optimize your workflows

Analyze your processes and each phase of development to optimize your workflows. You can invest in project management software that helps you clearly define each team members role and delegate tasks. This can help you develop repeatable processes, mitigate risks, reduce downtime and improve efficiencies.

Implement automation

Consider what tasks you can automate throughout the design and development process. For example, you might use automation to send team members a reminder before an upcoming deadline. This can help your team stay on track and save you valuable time.

Speed up the approval process

If your current approval process involves multiple steps, business leaders or stakeholders, look for ways to simplify it. Consider what key elements of the product design and development need approval in order for the project to be successful. You can also discuss the approval process with other business leaders and key stakeholders to identify who needs to be included in each decision before the project moves forward. Try to limit the number of people that need to approve a single task or item. This can help you streamline communication and speed up your time to market.

Integrate communications and key information

Store important files, revisions, blueprints and communications in one central location that your entire team can access. This can make it easier for team members to find the information they need and collaborate together. You can research different project management and software applications to find the one that best suits your needs.

Be flexible

Throughout the design and development phases, pay close attention to potential changes in consumer demand, regulations and marketing tactics. Identifying significant changes early can help you adapt. Being flexible throughout the product development process can also help you achieve your time to market goal and launch your product successfully.

FAQ

What is meant by time to market?

Benefits of time to market
  • Increasing profitability.
  • Garnering larger sales figures.
  • Speeding the time to market.
  • Improving the quality of the product.
  • Increasing productivity of a company.
  • Improving the communication level within the company.
  • Proficient managerial processes.
  • Higher share in the market.

How do you accelerate time to market?

The Importance of Time to Market. In the fast-moving and extraordinarily competitive business environment of today, being first gives you a first-mover advantage. This has the benefit of you gaining good brand recognition and product loyalty before other companies get to market with similar products.

How do you use time to market in a sentence?

Time to market (also called TTM or time-to-market) is defined as the length of time from the conception of a product until it is released to the market. Another definition: it is the time between when the team starts work and when the first unit is sold.

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