With ever increasing pressures to bring products to market faster, with more features, and at a lowest cost, often the focus on quality gets lost. This can result in unhappy customers and a degradation in brand value. Often the effectiveness and efficiency of your development process determines if you win new business and grow due to its impact on when you bring products to market and the return on investment for new product development. Being late to market usually happens when product development takes longer than anticipated, and results in an increase in overall costs through additional overhead and headcount as well as loss of revenue in sales, potential market share, useful product life, and even shareholder value.
In the aerospace and defense industry, often system developers keep product development in-house and outsource the qualification and testing. The perceived advantage of in-house development is typically around cost savings and the idea that once you know how to develop the product you can re-use that knowledge, capability, or stock to develop products for similar applications or markets. In reality, what typically happens is the product being developed was driven by a customer order and is unique to their requirements. The development then requires new staff to fill the knowledge or bandwidth gap and when the project is complete there isn’t’ enough existing work to maintain the staff, resulting in downtime. The time it takes to come across another project to use the skills that were built up is often too long, thus the internal resources and knowledge is lost, representing a significant loss to the organization.
An alternative is to outsource the complete product development project to a third party. This has its own challenges as you are left with little product quality oversight and communication can become an issue. While you have access to a larger talent pool, they typically aren’t located down the street but often in a different country and time zone resulting in communication and control issues. Additionally, the entire product lifecycle from requirements definition to support and integration, isn’t typically supported resulting a similar situation to in-house development where internal knowledge and skills are built up then left to dwindle.
Similar to outsourcing the entire project, an optimum and often lowest risk solution is to utilize or combine existing COTS products that have been developed to work within the intended environment. This approach leverages the use of mature technology building blocks that could be used singularly or integrated together to provide a system solution. This can reduce the cost of new product or system development, significantly reduce the time to market, and reduce the level of associated risk.
The ideal solution that can help you reduce your time to market as well as your costs while maintaining product quality and oversight, while meeting customer requirements relies on partnering with a trusted, proven supplier of packaged, or modified COTS solutions. To learn more about it read the white paper 'The Financial Impact of Late Delivery and How to Accelerate Time to Market'.