“Time-to-market” is how long it takes from the time a product is envisioned until it is actually for sale. It’s a particularly important concept in industries where products grow obsolete quickly (like fashion).
While the first company to get a brand-new product on the shelves may have had the luxury of time to develop the product and work out the problems, it is the followers who stand to gain the most from a short time-to-market.
It is not a concept that can be measured in a standardized manner, the way, say, gross profit margin can be. Additionally, a “fast” time-to-market will vary greatly between industries, as will the official “starting point” from which time-to-market is calculated. Nonetheless, it is a critical differentiator in many businesses, and reducing time-to-market generally requires speed, innovation, and consistency.
Faster Time-to-Market Is a Competitive Advantage
It’s easy to see how faster time-to-market can be a huge competitive advantage in some cases. For example, every year after New York Fashion Week, lower-cost apparel makers try to be the first to get the newest looks into stores at prices that average people can afford. A slow time-to-market can be devastating in this context, simply because of the fleeting nature of a lot of fashion.
The same is true to a lesser extent in “slower” industries like the automotive industry. When hybrid cars first caught on, it was advantageous for car companies to introduce their own hybrid models to take advantage of consumer sentiment while it was hot.
Quality Is Essential, However
Time-to-market, however, is meaningless without a certain level of quality. Sure, your car company may have put a hybrid on the market in short order, but if there are recalls and problems with many of them, the result can be a loss rather than a gain. Quality is a matter of first, building quality control into every process, from design to production to packaging to shipping. It is also a matter of consistency. Nobody wants to wonder if they got a “good” batch of the latest fashion accessory, or if the items are going to fall apart as soon as people put them on. For time-to-market to make a positive impact, quality and consistency must be baked in.
Workflows for Streamlined, Consistent Processes
Defined workflows are the key to consistent processes, and they can streamline processes significantly as well. Creating a workflow is a matter of breaking down a work process into discrete, singular steps, even when some of those steps seem superfluous (“Place the boxed item on the shelf”). When steps are followed consistently, the end product is more consistent, and when quality control steps are built in, quality is consistent as well.
Creating streamlined workflows is part science and part art. Often, the people who can design workflows the best are the people who actually use them every day. They know why things need to be done in a certain order, or which processes need to be branched off the main workflow and carried on in the background.
The Right Workflow Software Is Key
Workflow software can benefit just about any business in any industry. Every business has processes, and workflow software can turn those processes into streamlined, automated workflows. But not all workflow software is created equal. Nobody has time to use workflow software that requires pulling someone in from the IT department or hiring a programmer on contract.
PerfectApps is workflow software that puts the power of workflow creation into the hands of the people who know the workflows forward and backward. Because there is no programming required and the interface is intuitive, workflow users can drag and drop workflow elements into place, test them thoroughly, and make adjustments as needed. Then, when the workflow operates as needed, deploying it is easy and fast.
PerfectApps invites you to watch our demo video. It only takes a minute, and shows you clearly how clean, consistent workflows can prevent the waste of time and resources and help your business do what it does, only faster and better. Contact us for more information.