Time to market can be a critical factor in determining whether a new product introduction succeeds or fails. It tells customers that you're either responsive to their needs or a drag on their efforts to stay ahead of their competition. It says you are a leader or a follower. And yet, despite the critical nature of new product development and introduction, few companies are truly successful in these efforts.

"Abysmal" is how Ralph Rio, research director of ARC Advisory Group, describes the state of business practices for new product development and introduction. "When one looks beyond corporate statements on the importance of new products, the practices across the dimensions of people, processes, technology and metrics have failing grades," he says. Ouch.

Rio's analysis is based on the results of a survey ARC conducted earlier this year, published in the research report, "Best Practices for New Product Development and Introduction."

How often does your company meet its product launch date?
Frequency % of respondents
Over 80% 10.4%
80% to 61% 19.5%
60% to 41% 22.1%
40% to 20% 22.1%
Under 20% 20.8%
Do not know 5.2%
Source: ARC Advisory Group Inc.
Among the measures captured by the survey is the frequency with which companies are meeting their product launch dates. The results are, indeed, less than exemplary. According to the data, on average firms are meeting their product launch dates just 45% of the time. Fewer than a third of survey respondents meet their product launch target more than 60% of the time.

As Rio points out, one would expect better adherence to launch schedules given the importance many companies claim new product development holds within their organizations.

Of course, what is broken can be fixed -- and ARC Advisory Group offers up several solutions. Among its recommendations: Be sure to include representatives from all departments impacted by new products, but assign management responsibility for the new product development and introduction process to a senior person who has the appropriate experience, respect and knowledge to drive fruitful negotiations among the departments.

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