Importance of Speed in Product Development

Sophia Brown • 4 weeks ago

At Intuitio Labs, we focus on doing things faster, whether it’s responding to our clients, accelerating hotfixes during a sprint, or optimizing feature prioritization to achieve faster releases. The need for speed during product development is often attributed to a need for faster time to market. In our experience, the need for speed goes beyond just the need to take the product faster to market.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of speed in product development and discuss strategies to optimize your development timeline.

The Significance of Speed in New Product Development

Speed to market is a critical factor in the success of any product. The faster you develop and launch your product, the sooner you can generate revenue and gain market share. This is especially true in industries where innovation is rapid, and customer demands constantly evolve.

The MVP Approach: A Key to Accelerated Product Development

One effective strategy for speeding up product development is the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach. MVP development focuses on creating a basic product version with just enough features to satisfy early adopters. By prioritizing essential functionalities and launching quickly, you can gather valuable user feedback and make iterative improvements based on their needs and preferences.

Agile Methodology: Enhancing Efficiency and Flexibility

Another way to increase speed to market in new product development is by adopting an agile methodology. Agile emphasizes collaboration, adaptability, and iterative development. By breaking down the development process into smaller, manageable tasks called sprints, you can ensure continuous progress and respond quickly to changes or new requirements. This iterative approach allows for faster development cycles and reduces the risk of delays or bottlenecks.

Efficient Resource Allocation: Optimizing Product Engineering

Efficient resource allocation is crucial for maintaining speed and efficiency in product development. You can streamline the development process by carefully assessing and allocating available resources effectively. This includes assigning the right talent to each task, leveraging automation and technology tools, and optimizing the use of existing assets or frameworks. Maximizing resource utilization can minimize unnecessary delays and ensure a smooth workflow.

MVP in product development

Prototyping: Accelerating the Feedback Loop

Prototyping is an essential step in product development that can significantly speed up the timeline. By creating a prototype early on, you can visualize and test your product concept before investing significant time and resources. Prototypes allow you to gather feedback from stakeholders and potential users, making informed decisions and iterating quickly. This iterative feedback loop helps identify and address potential issues early, reducing the risk of costly rework or delays.

Why Speed Matters in Product Development?

Here are the ten key reasons why speed is essential:

Accelerated Learning and Improvement

Successful innovation is a function of the number of “at-bats” or approaches to a problem that are explored and tested.  We only have so much time, and management only has so much patience, so speed enables us to try many more approaches in a given time.

 Focus on the MVP

Most teams naturally tend to overbuild, overengineer, and overcomplicate their products. The sense of urgency that comes from speed keeps the team focused on the smallest viable product.

Active Support from Leadership

This one is a little political, but it’s real nonetheless.  Those teams that move and learn fast get the support of the company’s leadership.  They see the progress.  They feel the energy.  It is palpable.  On the other hand, teams that move slowly frustrate leadership.

Maintains Team Focus

Teams tend to drift over time.  Distractions arise.  People move on.  It is easy for a team to lose sight of its purpose and achieve its vision. Teams that move fast have the vision in their sights and push hard towards it.

Enhances Customer Satisfaction

Customers are happier when the product gets better faster.  In most categories, bugs are acceptable if found and fixed immediately – usually within hours or days.  Now, you might think that a team that has to stop what it’s doing to fix an urgent customer issue would be unhappy.  And it’s true that they will probably be frustrated if that’s all they are doing.  However, teams that jump on customer issues and are deeply committed to their customer’s success generally have the highest morale.  They know their customers are grateful, their products are valuable, and they know what they do is genuinely important.

Speed in New Product Development
Speed in New Product Development

Better-Quality Products

This is counter-intuitive to many people, but the old model of developers having a coding phase where they worked on a bunch of things and then eventually throwing the code over the wall to QA to test all those things not only was very slow but also resulted in generally poor levels of quality.  There were too many changes at once, too much risk of outage, too hard to detect what went wrong, and QA always squeezed for time at the end.  Today, we know the key to great quality is to start small, focus on working software, leverage test automation, get it working well, and keep it working well.  We do this with continuous and incremental development, integration, testing, and delivery.

Early Customer Feedback

We can learn and validate during product discovery with prototypes and user testing, but we need to start getting some actual usage data for many things.  This data lets us prove what works and what doesn’t, helps inform the product direction, and helps us improve quickly.

Higher Morale

We want our teams to be highly motivated, excited to come to work, always learning and improving, and feeling good about what they produce. Speed leads to success, and this success leads to a highly motivated team. The virtuous cycle is that highly motivated teams also lead to more speed.

Continuous Innovation

The urgency that comes from a focus on speed keeps the whole team on the hunt for new and better ways of defining, designing, developing, testing, and releasing products.  It’s needed and it is top of mind for the team, so no surprise how many strong teams come up with better ways of doing their job.

Fast Learning and Adaptation

When the team is motivated and the sense of urgency is high, team members will choose to work longer hours, but this results from excitement and motivation.  If you have to tell people to work longer and harder, you may win a battle or two, but you will likely lose the war.

Several people contribute to this sense of urgency and motivation, including engineering management, project management/ScrumMaster, and company leadership.  However, most of the responsibility falls on the product owner.  

Talk to us to find out more about how we have improved our product engineering velocity by improving the culture, processes, and tools within Intuitio labs.