Feb 9th, 2021

Defining Success

Part 5: Time to Market

  Written by: Jesse LaDousa, Chief Operating Officer

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Last week I wrote about teams becoming more predictable – all in an effort to better plan release cycles and ensure they hit the “on time” goal of the project. Another key aspect of successful project delivery is the time it takes to get to market. On time isn’t in time if your business can’t take advantage of the new functionality quick enough, or if the product is beaten to market by a competitor.

Time to market is a crucial discussion to have early in the planning stages of a project. Balance between what can effectively be delivered and the time in which it is required can be tricky. We’ve all been part of projects that completely missed the mark because they were bloated with feature creep and destined to miss the timeline. You’ve also likely been part of the opposite project in which a product with an anemic set of features was delivered in time but missed the needs of the end users and deemed a failure.

Finding this balance requires early discussions, regular compromises and consistent agreement amongst the stakeholders on the project. We must come to a realistic set of expectations as to what the minimum set of features (sometimes referred to as the minimum viable product or MVP) is to make the first iteration of the product useable.

Through years of poor expectation setting, we’ve trained many of our business users to ask for everything they could possibly imagine in the first release of the product – knowing full well that they’ll receive some smaller percentage of those items. While there is no harm in initially mapping out the full set of features, the hard part comes during the prioritization of that list and selection of the MVP.

Start approaching prioritization from the MVP angle. Let’s come to an agreement on the core set of features that can be developed and delivered as quickly as possible. Get those into production and the hands of users. This will allow us to start taking advantage of the value they provide as early as possible.

We also must acknowledge that we’ll learn more as the project progresses. New features will be added to this list and other features will fall off as less important. This is expected (actually, desired) as we know this means the team is actively learning from using the product. Quick follow-on releases will continue increasing the feature set and be welcomed by your audience.

This approach, along with the predictability of your project team, will lead to a faster time-to-market in almost every case. It will allow your end-users to begin capturing value from the investment quicker and give them productivity gains on an incremental basis.

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