The 5 ways engineers can improve time to market

Education / The 5 ways engineers can improve time to market
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Summary: Time to market is a key metric for engineering teams that can be improved with these 5 simple steps.

The time it takes for a product to get to market has a big impact on its later success. Research has shown that a product’s time to market influences:

  • The market share a product holds
  • The length of a product’s sales life
  • The revenue a product generates

Not too mention the importance of quick time to market for those hoping to capitalize on a first mover advantage.

Today we look at six easy steps engineers can take to improve time to market.

1. Automate engineering change management

The product development process is full of engineering changes.

All of which take a great deal of time to review and approve.

Unless of course, you automate this process with tools like cloud PLM and PDM.

Research by CIMdata found that PLM reduces the time spent on the design review process by 50% – which inevitably improves time to market.

PLM reduces the design review process by 50%.

When engineering change management is automated, managers spend less time sifting through data and coordinating reviews and can focus on more important tasks.

As a result, automated engineering change management allows:

  • Engineering teams to complete projects faster
  • Products to get out the door quicker
  • Time to market to be decreased

2. Reuse parts from previous projects

An easy way to improve time to market is to include what’s worked well in the past into new products.

One way to do this is through part reuse.

By incorporating parts that have been tried and tested in previous products, engineering teams cut out the time that goes into engineering new parts.

It also reduces product costs, makes procurement easier to manage, and most importantly, enormously streamlines aftermarket services.

Which results in faster product development and improves time to market.

And the benefits of part reuse, don’t stop there.

An added bonus is that part reuse reduces the cost of product development with the expensive engineering labor it saves.

3. Make it easy for teams to access data

One reason that products take so long to get to market is that teams can’t access the data they need.

As a result, teams waste hours each work searching for information.

Take designer engineers for example. found that a design engineer’s average week includes:

  • 2 hours looking for files
  • 2 hours sharing files with others
  • 3 hours creating new models because they can’t find the original model

The result – a whole day of their work week is sucked up by data management tasks.

Design engineers spend a full day each week on data management tasks.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

When product data is accessible, engineers don’t waste time on low-value tasks like data retrieval and instead focus on the high-value tasks that they trained for years to know how to do.

Which means engineering change orders are completed faster, and products hit the market sooner.

4. Prioritize collaboration in engineering

It’s a fact that teams that work together, are more successful than those that don’t, or worse, can’t.

And the same goes for engineers looking to improve time to market.

Research by Deloitte found that when teams collaborate:

  • Communication is clearer
  • Decision cycles are shorter
  • Efficiency is higher

… All of which contribute to products getting out the door faster.

Not too mention that teams that collaborate get more done than those that don’t.

Deloitte found that teams that collaborate accomplish 15% more than their peers.

Teams that collaborate accomplish 15% more.

Deloitte also found that the quality of work improves when teams collaborate – a finding of particular importance to engineering teams looking to improve their time to market as poor quality work slows down production.

Considering a single design error can cause production to grind to a halt, it’s important teams work together to ensure oversights are identified and addressed before a design is sent to the shop floor.

One design error can extend time to market by weeks.

When engineering teams collaborate, they produce higher quality work and improve their time to market.

5. Practice follow the sun (FTS) management

FTS management is a global workflow that assigns work to teams based on their time zone. Its objective is to have projects continuously worked on as you ‘follow the sun’.

Here’s an example of FTS management being used at a company with offices in Beijing, London, and Los Angeles.

First, the Beijing engineering team works on product A from 9 am – 5 pm (CT).

When they go home, the London engineering team picks up where they left off.

The London engineers work on product A from 9 am – 5 pm (GMT) and then pass it off to the Los Angeles engineers.

The Los Angeles engineering team then works on product A from 9-5 (PST) and passes it back to the Beijing engineering team (CT).

This global workflow then repeats itself until product A is complete or another project is assigned.

To effectively orchestrate FTS management, teams need access to up to date product data from wherever they are in the world.

Cloud PLM is a helpful tool for those implementing FTS management as it syncs data across time zones and makes sure teams never work with outdated files.

It also makes it easy to get everyone up to speed as the revision history it provides lets teams see what progress has been made on product A since they last worked on it, as well as who made each change.

With FTS management projects are worked on pretty much 24/7 and as a result, are completed faster.

When engineering teams practice FTS management, products are developed in less time and your time to market is shorter.

Wrap Up

Engineers have the power to improve time to market and can do so in five different ways.

Here’s how:

  1. Automate your engineering change management process.
  2. Reuse parts during product design.
  3. Make data easily accessible.
  4. Collaborate with one another.
  5. Practice FTS management.

Image Credit: Sonja Langford via Unsplash

Fun fact: our clients on average see a 20% improvement in their time to market. Get in touch to find out more.