Are your product development costs choking your P&L? You’ve got no shortage of options to reduce them.
Cash isn’t the only concern here, though. For early-stage entrepreneurs, every day that goes by without a market-ready, revenue-producing product is another step closer to oblivion. You simply can’t afford to spend any more time than necessary in the pre-revenue phase.
And don’t expect a market-ready product to radically change your circumstances, either. In some high-growth sectors, version lifecycles are measured in weeks or months, not years or decades. You can’t afford to mothball your R&D apparatus — or even let your foot up off the gas. Rapid iteration is the name of the game.
With all this in mind, it’s time to think intentionally about cost-effective strategies to reduce product time to market. These six are proven to work for a broad range of small and midsize businesses. Are you trying any yet?
Use 3D Printing for Prototyping and Low-Volume Production
By taking advantage of the latest 3D printing technologies, you can drastically decrease the time it takes to take your product from idea to reality.
Countless businesses use 3D printing services for initial and iterative prototyping. No matter how detailed your graphic model gets, there’s nothing quite like producing a tangible prototype to prod for weaknesses and spur new ideas.
3D printing is a vital asset in low-volume production runs, too. If you’re aiming to bring a limited run to market as quickly as possible — more on that below — a 3D print-aided bridge tooling program can help. There’s no need to invest time or money in turning up costly injection molds or custom fixtures.
Invest in a Robust Project Management Suite
Want to feel overwhelmed? Google “project management suite.” There’s no shortage of options to choose from.
If you’re serious about reducing time to market, though, your aperture is much narrower. You need a robust suite that can house your entire product development operation such that no effort is duplicated and no box is left unchecked.
Make Sure Every Process Has an Owner
When time is of the essence, accountability is critical. You simply don’t have time for backbiting and finger-pointing. Give every process an owner, every metric a champion, and let the chips fall where they may.
Use a Collaboration Tool That Reduces Formal Check-in Requirements
Meetings are anathema to efficiency. If your project management suite doesn’t have one already, get a robust collaboration tool — preferably with chat and sharing capabilities — through which you run all project-related communications.
Use Scarcity as a Marketing Hook
Remember, getting to market is more important than flooding the market. Turn your initial low-volume run to your advantage by marketing its scarcity and fetishizing your early adopters. Make those first customers feel like they’re the start of something special — because they are.
Jettison Bells and Whistles
Remember, rapid iteration is the name of the game. Don’t wait for your ideal version to be ready before you send your first order out. Make that pedestal-worthy creation version 5.0, or 7.0, or 15.0. Put another way: never make the perfect the enemy of the good. You’ve got perfectly serviceable products to bring to market.
Shorten Time to Market, Lengthen Your Cash Position
Time is money.
When it comes to product development, time spent is quite literally money spent. The less time you spend taking your product to market, the more money you’ll have left in your R&D budget for the next adventure, and the sooner you’ll be able to turn on the all-important cash flow tap.
In the early going, your company could well sink or swim on this one little metric. Make sure you’re giving yourself every chance to get it right.