How The Agile Methodology Can Improve Time to Market
Because of its iterative approach, the Agile methodology is an ideal tool for reducing time to market. Its practices and principles, such as technical agility and business agility, allow organizations to provide consumers with the products and services they want -- before competitors do.
Reacting fast and adapting to new circumstances quickly and efficiently is a crucial factor in business success.
Time to market (TTM) is a crucial metric for measuring your success in this area. Essentially, TTM describes how organizations understand market needs and how quickly they satisfy those needs.
If you want to improve your TTM and deliver value to your customers quicker and more efficiently, you need to adopt the Agile methodology.
What is the Agile Methodology?
The Agile methodology is a repetitive approach to product development that makes it easier to release value into the market with every iteration.
That's because producing more iterations of a product provides you with more opportunities to gather feedback and verify if the direction your organization is going is still correct. In addition, it usually accelerates return on investment.
How the Agile Methodology Accelerates Time to Market
The Agile methodology comprises two pillars which make it an ideal tool for reducing TTM:
- Technical agility: The enterprise's ability to quickly adapt to newer technologies.
- Business agility: An organization's agility in terms of its culture, strategy, leadership, and governance.
Technical agility helps minimize the time needed to release products by encouraging developers to create more flexible solutions and architecture. (Also read: An Introduction to Application Software.)
Business agility helps stakeholders act in uncertain and rapidly changing circumstances, minimizing feedback loops.
In short, Agile acts as an assistant to reduce TTM: Its practices and principles provide an ideal conduit for achieving your goals in this area. This is why companies are still implementing Agile. In fact, according to the "15th Annual State Of Agile Report," almost all key reasons for adopting Agile in the enterprise are related to reducing TTM.
Why Is Time to Market Important?
Customer satisfaction is essential for any business. To keep your customers happy, you should provide them with the products and services they want, fast -- or at least faster than your competitors.
But markets, especially in the IT industry, are impacted and shaped by multiple forces in a constant state of flux. An astute and experienced expert can attempt to predict customers' needs; but in this sometimes uncertain landscape, even the best of them may fail. That is why it is important to verify any hypothesis, incorporate user feedback and deliver your service as quickly as possible.
Scrum.org's "Evidence-Based Management Guide" puts it this way: TTM is "the organization's ability to quickly deliver new capabilities, services, or products." However, this definition is somewhat staid and narrow; we might find it most appropriate for fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers. In the world of IT, we should think about TTM more flexibly. This is where the Agile methodology comes in.
Success is all about your ability to deliver value quickly and efficiently. So if you want to succeed, you need to accelerate your TTM. (Also read: 3 Tips for Developing an IT Marketing Strategy.)
How Can I Measure Time to Market?
Begin by asking yourself the following questions:
- How fast can my organization improve using new approaches and data?
- How quickly can my organization respond to new circumstances?
- How fast is my organization able to test new strategies with clients?
- How quickly do we receive feedback from customers?
Answering these questions in an informed way, with metrics, will enable you to define your TTM capabilities.
As the father of management thinking, Peter Drucker, once said, "You can't manage what you can't measure." Thus, here are some metrics that can help with TTM evaluation, as outlined in Scrum.org's "Evidence-Based Management Guide":
Time to Market Metrics
- Customer Cycle Time: The time it takes from product release to its engagement with the customer.
- Lead Time: The time from when a product idea or hypothesis is suggested till the customers get value from it. This measure is crucial to contributing to customer satisfaction.
- Lead Time for Changes: The time needed to go from code committed to code effectively running.
- Time to Pivot: The time needed to respond to unexpected incidents/events in the market.
- Time to Learn: The amount of time needed to outline an idea, develop it, provide it to clients, and learn from its usage.
- Build and Integration Frequency: The number of integrated and tested builds for a period.
- Release Frequency: The number of releases per concrete period -- e.g., a week, month or a year. Release frequency illustrates the time it takes to meet customers' needs with a new product or service.
- Deployment Frequency: The number of times an organization releases a new version of the product to clients.
- Release Stabilization Period: The time spent on solving product problems. The release stabilization period is counted from the time developers present the product ready for release until the moment of its actual release to clients.
- Mean Time to Repair: The average amount of time needed to fix an error. It is measured from the moment of error detection till the error is fixed.
- Time to Remove the Impediment: The average time from finding the impediment until it's fixed.
- Time to Restore Service: The time between the start of a service outage and the restoration of complete availability of service.
The choice of exact TTM metrics depends on organization and workflow. To come up with needed metrics, we suggest starting with a visualization of your current delivery pipeline and thinking about TTM metrics relevant to each node and connector.
How Else Can I Reduce Time to Market?
Unfortunately, there is no universal solution for reducing TTM. However, a common approach is to set goals and follow a "Plan, Do, Check, Act" (PDCA) cyclе. Like the agile methodology, this method helps you iteratively find the right solution. Once you measure your current TTM, you can set goals for improvement and start the first loop of the PDCA cycle.
The PDCA cycle consists of 4 phases:
- The "Plan" phase. Here, you should prepare a plan out the exact improvements and experiments that will help you achieve your goal TTM.
- The "Do" phase. This involves executing the plan from the first step.
- The "Check" phase. In this phase, you collect your target TTM metrics again and compare the results in accordance with your goal.
- The "Act" phase. Finally, make corrections before the next iteration. Keep what works well and remove what slows things down.
Pro tips: Do not plan too many improvements per iteration, and don't expect to fix everything within a single iteration. Remember that PDCA is a loop, not a process that starts and ends at a given point.
I recommend visualizing the results of each loop. This helps to compare progress in each area and decide if planned experiments work efficiently.
Time to market indicates what a business should be aware of if it wants to deliver products and services efficiently. While there's no universally effective TTM strategy, the Agile methodology can help you accelerate TTM in your company.