By Venkat Thiruvengadam, Founder and CEO of DuploCloud
Taking your product to market swiftly offers numerous advantages, from impressing investors to outpacing competitors and reaching customers faster. While the pressure to achieve a faster time to market is real, it doesn’t have to come at the expense of product quality or your team’s well-being.
In this article, discover nine strategic ways to accelerate time to market while ensuring your product’s success and maintaining top-notch quality upon launch.
Focus on Customer Pain Points
Focusing on customer pain points can help you create the most valuable solution possible for your target market. That means your product will be inherently more sellable than your competitors’ as soon as it’s released. Continue building your buyer personas (if you’ve already done so) with data from surveys and interviews throughout development and let potential clients and trusted colleagues try out demos in test environments. Incorporate your findings and turn them into features as you go along.
While spending time on market research may feel like it would increase time to market, building a solid product from the start will in fact minimize time-wasting back-and-forth.
Don’t Overhire (But Don’t Underhire Either)
Finding, hiring, training, replacing, and dismissing staff are all time-consuming processes, especially for a start-up without a dedicated HR manager. Depending on your team culture, you may feel a sense of abundance after receiving a round of funding and start snapping up every developer in sight, or you may feel cautious and not get enough help, which can place undue pressure on the rest of your team.
A lean, talented team that’s likely to stick with you will help you achieve a faster time to market by showing up with bright ideas, good fixes, and a “get-the-job-done” attitude. Consider outsourcing some areas of your business such as marketing, HR, and day-to-day admin to an independent contractor or an agency so you’re still running an operational company without hiring too many people too soon.
Implement a DevSecOps Approach
A DevSecOps approach combines development, security, and operations into one streamlined process. Instead of waiting until after your solution is ready to run security tests, your entire team works together to provision security features as early as possible. Baking in security from the beginning helps you reduce the time to market by cutting down the lengthy review process at the end of the development cycle, and it minimizes costly remediations you’d need to complete if your security features fail to protect the entire product due to their late addition.
A DevSecOps-as-service platform can give you a head start with built-in standard security features and save your team from having to re-create common security protocols from scratch. A DevSecOps platform can be especially useful when you’re working with limited resources and can’t afford to hire a full team of DevSecOps engineers.
Leverage a Low-Code/No-Code DevSecOps Platform for Compliance
Creating a brand new developer platform from scratch is a time-intensive process for a small team, which can lead to increased time to market. A low-code/no-code DevSecOps platform allows your developers to move quickly by offering a set of pre-built features that ensure compliance with SOC 2, PCI, HIPAA, and other security standards.
Achieving compliance can eat up much of a small or mid-sized business’ time and resources, not to mention that remaining compliant is an ongoing challenge. Low-code/no-code platforms can help you achieve faster time to market while automating or streamlining compliance.
No one likes feeling stuck on a project. And when your team members consistently don’t know what to do next or feel overwhelmed, your time to market will likely increase. Creating a streamlined workflow can head off this problem before it begins by making sure people know what they’re working on, where to find the resources they need, and how much time they have.
This may also be a good time to find a project manager among your current ranks (or add a few seasoned professionals to your team) and invest in a solid project management system.
Build Feedback Into Your Process
Your team, potential testers, and other parties should be able to openly provide feedback on their work and the product at large. Regularly soliciting feedback allows you to iterate and make additions as you go along instead of having to fix and update features too close to launch. Similarly to our first tip about listening to customer pain points, this strategy may feel like it will add extra time to your schedule, but it can in fact result in accelerated time to market by helping you build the best solution possible early on.
Set Realistic Goals
Staring down the barrel of a long development cycle can be intimidating no matter how experienced your staff is. Work with your team to set goals and then break them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily tasks. Setting small achievable goals tied to your loftier ones can actually help you move faster: Make the science behind goal-making work for you by assigning the possible.
Build a System for Accountability
Make sure that checking in with one another is a part of your team culture, but don’t take up your team’s time with unnecessary meetings. A daily accountability check-in can easily be done within your project management software, though it’s important for individual contributors to have one-on-one meetings with supervisors and for all teams to have a set time to discuss setbacks, pivots, or updates.
Accept That Not Everything Will Go According to Plan
There is a very high chance that you’ll encounter a lot of setbacks across the project for reasons you can’t control. Fighting for perfection in your product from the get-go, while admirable, may not be entirely realistic.
Maybe the first version will not have the most graceful UI, maybe your consumer-facing site won’t have the graphics you wanted because you couldn’t find the right animator in time, or an add-on feature you’re really excited about won’t get in by the launch date. Letting things that are less critical simmer on the back burner allows you to push forward more quickly and helps your team avoid burnout.