Keys for Time to Market Success
Jeffrey Rowe posted on November 15, 2018 |

In the increasingly competitive world of product development and launch—along with innovation, quality and meeting cost targets—time to market is just as essential.

Ever wonder how and why some companies succeed in the time to market race while others fail?

In a recent study conducted in 2018 by engineering.com, 234 product development professionals were surveyed about the challenges and processes that contributed to success or failure for launching products. The survey’s results were conclusive and universal: Getting products to market on time was the biggest challenge they faced.

What are the main challenges your organization experiences during product development that impact time to market?
What are the main challenges your organization experiences during product development that impact time to market?

The reasons why time to market continues to be a challenge include systemic problems such as late stage design changes, ordering wrong parts and using wrong file versions. The research identified the choice of system, on-premise or cloud-based, used for four key processes:

  • Engineering changes
  • Document control
  • Bills of material (BoM)management
  • Non-BoM collaboration

Although still in early stages of adoption in many organizations, cloud-based systems, specifically cloud-based PLM systems, are being increasingly implemented because of their inherent utility, availability and security, all of which are instrumental in optimizing time to market.

The Cloud Is a Key to Success

So, what are the keys for success when it comes to winning the time to market race? This question was posed to John Laslavic, Upchain founder and CEO.

“The main key to success is access to organized product data,” he said. “When teams have real-time product data at their fingertips, they can make data-driven decisions, rather than relying on outdated information or—worse—no data at all and flying by the seat of their pants. It means everyone works on the same stuff so there are fewer mistakes. Engineers can spend more time doing actual engineering and less time circulating documents and looking for parts.”

When asked for some reasons for failure, Laslavic responded, The most common reason I’ve seen is mistakes and errors in production and/or procurement usually caused by people not having the right data at the right time. They have to spend hours looking for the data/files they need, or they circulate wrong or obsolete data and have to correct those mistakes down the line. This all takes time. Time modern manufacturing teams don’t have. Other reasons for failure include people sending the wrong design file to the manufacturer, and it takes time to correct that, or engineers spend time looking for or redesigning a part that they already have or can easily bring in.”

On the plus side, Laslavic noted some of advantages of implementing a cloud-based PLM solution.

“Cloud PLM implements relatively quickly, is cost-effective for small and mid-sized organizations, can scale as big or as small as you need, and, if you get a SaaS cloud PLM, then you get constant updates and flexible integrations to any existing technology. Basically, the hard work of integrating, upgrading, and maintaining a system is done for you,” he said.

The Ongoing Time to Market Challenge

Without question, launching products on time is the No. 1 challenge for product development teams.

The study found that there was a strong relationship between what type of system was being used and their reported success at on-time product launches. Cloud-based system users were more successful at meeting their targets than users of on-site server based systems orless formal systems like email or spreadsheets. Cloud users also expressed the highest levels of satisfaction with their system compared to users of the other two system types.

Over 20 percent of survey respondents reported poor performance in on-time product delivery. Only about half of the respondents claimed success in on-time product launches/time to market. The remaining 29 percent described their performance as neither good nor bad.

Respondents were asked what type of system they used for controlling four key product development processes, BoM management, engineering change management, design collaboration and document control. Over half of all teams used on-site server-based control systems. The least common type of system was cloud-based management software. In betweenthesetwo extremes of popularity were email and spreadsheets.

What type of system does your product development team primarily use to manage the following processes?
What type of system does your product development team primarily use to manage the following processes?

Users of cloud systems reported better outcomes for managing BoMs and other processes. Having a cloud-based BoM tool does notguarantee that teams get products to market faster. There is a significant relationship between this type of solution and on-time product launches, suggesting the possibility that being able to transparently see updates to BoMs throughout the entire product team, regardless of location, allows for fewer corrections of errors due to wrong data.

Cloud-Based systems Gaining Wider Acceptance

Cloud-based services are certainly nothing new. They have been growing at a phenomenal rate, but there still remains a reluctance that prevent some prospective organizations from embracing the cloud.

One of the most compelling reasons to switch from a traditional on-premise PLM to a cloud-based alternative is that cloud services support virtually any engineering application and are data neutral, which is especially important for CAD files. As important, however, is the a forementioned statement that cloud-based PLM alternatives are inherently secure when compared to traditional data storage methods.

For example, traditional PLM servers and their data are subject to theft and damage, which can be catastrophic if a company’s most valuable asset, information and IP, are lost. These and other concerns surrounding traditional PLM/data storage method are not concerns at all at all with acloud-based PLM system.

From the beginning, probably the biggest concern and hurdle for cloud-based applications is how security is addressed. Laslavic claims security is it better in the cloud.

“The idea that on-premise is more secure is a total myth these days,” he said. “Cloud hosters are specialists, so they can pour a lot more resources into security. Our cloud host, for example, is constantly updating their firewall to defend against new attacks. Plus, cloud providers have more secure physical environments, more capacity to deal with things like brute force attacks. There’s a reason medical and government organizations are moving to the cloud—you get more security for less. We’ve actually added an extra layer of security so even if there is a hack, the product data remains encrypted if it’s outside the cloud environment.”

A cloud-based PLM alternative goes far beyond server data storage. It provides not only a secure platform but also acts as a 24/7 collaborative platform. This opens up the opportunity to work around the world and around the clock, enhancing time to market.

The benefits of storing your data in the cloud far outweigh the old perceptions ofcloud insecurity, as the cloud is far more security than an on-premise server could ever be. With time, the situation is only getting better with regard to utility, usability, scalability, reliability and security.

The strong relationship between users of cloud-based systems for BoM management and on-time product launch success was similar for other product development processes. For example, users of cloud-based systems for engineering changes, collaboration and document management all reported a higher likelihood of top performance for on-time product launches.

The relationships and results indicate that cloud-based system users benefit from having multiple locations experiencing the same current data, which in turn leads to fewer errors, less waiting time and ultimately, faster product launches.

To read the research report discussed in this article, click here.


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