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Paul Hamshere

Lean Technology (Success Factor 6 of 20)

Delivering beyond customer and business expectations by achieving higher levels of speed and cost efficiency.

Lean Technology (Success Factor 6 of 20)

What is the ideal outcome and what benefits will it bring?

Amidst the highly competitive market dynamics, organisations that embrace lean technologies across the entire product lifecycle gain a distinct advantage. From early validation to an efficient build stage and ongoing market maintenance, this lean approach ensures that products and services are delivered faster and at reduced costs. By closely aligning with customer demands, these companies guarantee both the relevance and desirability of their offerings and ensure their business viability in an era where profit margins are tight and the business landscape evolves so rapidly.

Within a product lifecycle, there are 3 key stages of opportunity with lean technologies; early customer validation, product build, and in market enhancements. An example of these lean technologies across each key stage are:

  1. Early Customer Validation - Utilising fast, low-cost 'Pretoyping' techniques (e.g., fake front doors) enables rapid validation of consumer value propositions and facilitates necessary pivots, ensuring the final product is desirable for customers. Note: This is very different to ‘Prototyping’ if you have not come across this before.
  2. Product Build - By embracing low-code technologies like Outsystems, you can achieve faster time to market and significantly reduced costs for both initial development and ongoing enhancements.
  3. In Market Enhancements - Implementing a unified Design System (DS) across all teams to produce production-ready elements, from the brand, to design, to engineering, fostering market agility at a reduced cost and ensures a consistent customer experience.

What changes have we seen in the market?

The growing emphasis on cost reduction in various industries has posed a significant dilemma for organisations. They face the tough choice of either heavily prioritising their core products, potentially sidelining new innovations, or embracing lean technologies to deliver equivalent or even greater value to both customers and the organisation, while operating on a reduced budget. Below are some of the rapid changes we’ve seen amongst the three key product lifecycle stages in market.

1. Early Customer Validation

While prototyping new products and services has been a long-standing practice, it often comes with significant costs and challenges in obtaining approval to proceed. However, the emergence of Pretotyping techniques is changing the landscape. This approach allows for the early validation of customer value propositions, gathering real customer data points much sooner in the process and with a lower barrier to obtaining funding approval. As a result, Pretotyping is becoming increasingly popular as a way to efficiently validate ideas and innovations and to justify funding.

2. Product Build

The cost of building new products is often substantial, primarily due to the complexity and expertise needed to meet modern customer demands. However, the coding landscape continues to evolve, ushering in novel technologies like low-code platforms. These platforms facilitate efficient collaboration among design, analysis, and engineering teams, expediting the development process. As a result, time-to-market is significantly accelerated while achieving cost savings, making it more feasible and viable to deliver high-quality products that meet customer expectations.

3. In Market Enhancements 

Once your product is in the market, the continuous need for changes to meet customer demands and adapt to the highly competitive landscape necessitates cost-effective solutions to prevent an escalation in the total cost of ownership. In response to this challenge, organisations are increasingly adopting design language systems (DLS) to standardise user interfaces. This approach promotes reusability, ensuring a consistent user experience and significantly reducing the time and cost required to implement changes across various digital products.

What successful examples have we seen?

Early Customer Validation

Studies suggest that new products which are validated before build & launch have a 30% higher success rate and a 40% higher ROI. This suggests that organisations that prioritise earlier validation by adopting lean technology testing are more likely to experience significant success.

Product Build

Organisations that adopt lean technologies such as the low-code platform, Outsystems witness 6 - 10 x faster time-to-market, 40-60% build cost savings and 20-40% run cost savings. These companies are more likely to deliver high-quality products that meet and exceed customer expectations.

In Market Enhancements 

The key to the success of Salesforce's design system is its capability to harmonise and integrate the design and engineering processes, leading to uniformity and improved efficiency across all products. The Lightning Design System (LDS), their design system product, has exhibited a 30% acceleration in development speed due to its collection of reusable components and code snippets. Additionally, it has led to a 20% enhancement in user experience quality by employing a unified set of design principles and guidelines. Moreover, there's been a 15% rise in developer productivity, facilitated by a centralised source for assets and documentation. This allows developers more time to dedicate to crafting new products and features.

Where should you start?

  • How effectively does your current technology enable rapid and lower-cost validation, development and deployment of products and services?
  • How does your organisation currently validate new products and services before you move to build?
  • Do you currently have a challenge gaining funding to introduce new innovations or enhancements?
  • At what point are you currently positioned on this maturity scale, and what benefits would your customers and business gain by advancing further?

Lean Technology is one of IE’s 20 success factors. To learn more, read our first article, ‘Winning in a Product-Led World’.

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