How to Speed Time to Market
in a Next-Generation World.
Benchmarks and strategies for developing and
launching user-centric services.
The past ten years have been a time of radical change for the
In its research, KMRC took a close look at the development
communications industry. Technology advances have come at a
processes of each carrier—from idea inception through launch.
staggering pace. Customers are demanding more—faster. As a
The key study questions focused on:
result, vendors and carriers have transformed their value-added
• Length of time for each project
service technical environments to meet the demands of emerging
• The most time-consuming steps in the process
user-centric subscriber requirements.
• Key challenges to reduce time to market
Competitive pressure, user and industry requirements and
• Areas that have been improved by the company
technical innovation have had a tremendous influence on how
• Areas that have been improved through the help of
services are built, launched and supported. The technical
architecture that ran a small number of very large applications
does not support the development and delivery of a large
The study classified development projects into four key types:
number of various size applications, which are prevalent in
• Class I included projects with a high degree of difficulty,
today’s marketplace. To thrive in today’s environment, carriers
involving development in the core network, billing, or other
must put the customer first. And, they must deliver solutions in
an innovative way, designing products that meet the demands of
• Class II involved fairly difficult projects developed with
the highest revenue-producing segments.
partner relationships, contracts and interfaces.
Above all, carriers must deliver these solutions faster than ever
• Class III projects were less difficult and involved a limited
before. Time to market has never been more important than it is
scope/complexity of billing system development.
today. Smaller, emerging providers have set a new precedent,
• Class IV projects were straightforward feature deployments
delivering products and services in record time. Even with a next-
on top of an existing product infrastructure.
generation technical architecture, can the communications
industry as a whole meet these new delivery expectations?
KMRC identified twelve key steps that carriers use in the
What are the impediments to speeding time to market?
development process, distinguishing those that occur on the
And, most importantly, how can they be overcome?
front- and back-end.
This paper takes a close look at the existing development
processes of today’s communications providers. It offers statistics
1 Initial Opportunity Assessment
7 Service-Delivery Network Development
on current time-to-market timeframes and discusses real-world
2 Business Case Development
8 Billing Systems Development
strategies for improving them. Finally, this discussion strives to
3 Product Pricing
9 Provisioning Systems Development
10 Partner Relationship Development
help organizations ensure that processes having an impact on
4 Business Case Approvals
11 Beta Test/Market Trial
time to market adequately support investments made in next
6 Regulatory Review and Approval
12 Market Launch Planning/Preparation
In March 2005, Unisys commissioned KMRC Research &
Highlighted benchmark results from the study.
Consulting to conduct a study to explore typical time-to-market
The study focused on the time differences between typical and
issues of the product development process in the
“best case” projects. Most of the relevant benchmarking data
telecommunications service provider industry. In addition, the
highlights how carriers are changing their organizations to be
company wanted to benchmark average timeframes for developing
faster and more market-oriented. However, some of the data
and delivering new products and services. To do this, it surveyed
suggests that speed also varies by geography and by segment
40 percent of the top 50 mobile and fixed telecommunication
(mobile versus fixed). The study showed that mobile carriers
providers. The study primarily focused on American and
achieve the fastest time to market.
European providers, but also collected data points from providers
Why mobile carriers? The study highlighted three key reasons.
First, mobile development cycles are not as heavily impacted by
legacy network and OSS environments. Second, mobile providers
are really good at rolling out services under bundling concepts,
which reduces the time to develop billing plans. Third, mobile
respondents have become better at small launches with third-
The study provided some interesting data and highlighted
important trends. A few of these benchmarks are presented here.
• The graph shows that for typical-
Class I Project Phases: Means for Typical & Best Cases
case Class I projects, the overall
average total time to market is
about 61 weeks; fixed-line telcos
spend 16 more weeks than do
mobile operators and European
service providers take 13 weeks
longer than North Americans.
• And, it shows that for best-case
Class I projects, the overall average
total time to market is about 37
weeks—39 percent faster than the
typical case; fixed line best cases
cut out 23 weeks (37 percent) from
total time to market and European
and North American telcos shave
off roughly the same amount of
time going from typical to best
case for Class I projects.
The chart above identifies significant differences between the time to market in
each of the target areas and also between typical-case and best-case Class I
projects. The data is split between mobile and fixed and then split again
This chart shows that:
Class I Project Phases: Means for Typical & Best Cases
• In all of these organizations, pricing
and regulatory approvals are done
Initial Opp Assmnt
concurrently with or as part of
business case development
• The format for management
approvals varies substantially, but in
all cases there are multiple
decision/approval points (“gates”)
• In the “front-end” pre-development
phases, the difference between
typical and best cases is generally
attributed to the presence of a
Billing Sys Dev
strong executive champion and the
inherent scope and complexity
Provisioning Sys Dev
of the project
• On the “back-end” (development
and operational readiness phases),
the difference between typical and
best cases is attributed to:
• Entering the development release
cycle with optimal timing
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Time in Weeks
• The inherent scope and complexity
of the project
• The quality with which the
requirements were specified
The chart above demonstrates the time-to-market issues captured within each
• The presence or absence of
stage of the development process. In the front-end development stages, the
unforeseen events that necessitate
complexity of the project and the presence of a strong executive champion had a
revisiting requirements, switching
significant impact on timeframes. For the back-end phases, project complexity,
vendors or siphoning off
quality of requirements and unforeseen events all had an impact on timing.
Typical Case Comparison
Initial Opportunity Assessment
Initial Opportunity Assessment
15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Since the stages of development overlap, the chart above
illustrates the overall typical case for type 1 and 2 aligned roughly
by how the cycles unfold, parallel and serially. In essence, you can
see which development stages are shortened and by how much in
typical large projects versus the next-generation projects.
Refine business processes for improved
time to market.
A key theme that emerged from the research was that the
bottleneck in the development of next-generation services is no
longer technology, but rather the business processes surrounding
product development. In other words, the technology is available
to speed development and deployment. It is now the development
processes themselves that are slowing things down.
Why? While the IT infrastructure has been upgraded, the
processes are still designed for monolithic release schedules for
large applications. So, what strategies can companies employ to
improve their time-to-market related processes and fully optimize
their next-generation technology architecture?
The study identified several core strategies for process
refinement that have proven successful. These include:
• More frequent releases
• Executive champion
• Streamline product management and development
• Business case standardization
• Requirement standardization
• Document and refine
As our research indicates, most carriers are either moving towards
centralizing product management or are making investments to
leverage their already-centralized product groups. The research
suggests that this type of move helps to ensure that time-to-
market issues are adequately identified by the management team
and prioritized for the company. This type of strategy:
• Reduces overlap work done in groups outside the main
• Reduces the overhead of billing, pricing, provisioning and work
• Ensures that any development is interoperable with existing or
As development volumes increase due to next-generation service
architecture, centralization becomes an even more vital strategy.
And, as the company becomes aware of the new possibilities
enabled by open architecture, the requests for development
increase. Rogue development work will emerge more frequently
and overwhelm IT and billing departments, bringing the time-to-
market processes to a painful stop. As organizations consider the
dynamic needs of user communities and the vast capabilities of
open architecture, it is important to keep a clear focus on
priorities for the development community. A centralized structure
becomes a vital part of this strategy.
While it offers clear benefits, a centralization strategy has
challenges as well. Most companies report that this type of
strategy can easily disrupt projects under way and demoralize staff
who may not be on the core development team. Therefore, careful
inclusion of staff considered outside the core—in both the
decision-making process and the transition planning process—are
critical to the success of the program. During the transition to a
centralized model, each physical group should have a voice in
project planning to retain business continuity and overcome
reorganization behavioral barriers.
Release strategies often have the largest impact on the time to
market for next-generation services. Most carriers surveyed
indicate that they still have two to three major releases a year
tightly controlled by the IT or network teams. This type of release
schedule is absolutely essential for maintaining quality when doing
large, network-impacting services. As next-generation services
become a reality, there will no doubt still be a need for these
major releases. However, IT and network managers should
consider adding smaller releases to the schedule for faster-moving
and more frequent applications that work within an open, next-
generation service architecture. One strategy that emerged during
the study was to schedule quarterly releases for smaller
development efforts to complement larger ones.
One way to add smaller, more
Consider the benefits of shorter release cycles.
frequent release schedules is by
With them, carriers can:
leveraging partners in the
• Deliver more value in shorter amounts of time
development effort. Consider the
case of a large, national carrier.
• Reduce the risk, because each release requires fewer resources
This particular carrier knew its
• Optimize work efficiency and results by forcing project teams to
development processes and
adhere to shorter timeframes for development, test, integration
environment weren’t designed for
fast turnaround, so it turned to its
• Ease and streamline the adoption process, since smaller,
extensive partner network.
The company actively encouraged its
frequent enhancements are more seamlessly accepted
third-party partners to develop new
products and services for it, making
application program interfaces (APIs)
As a result of the study, KMRC found that mobile companies
and software development kits
appear to have more experience with smaller, next-generation
(SDKs) readily available to
applications and therefore have shorter release schedules.
This suggests that as next-generation services offered by third
By leveraging partnerships, large
parties become more prevalent in all communication segments,
carriers can benefit from the nimble
release schedules will need to support shorter cycles.
development processes of much
smaller shops and more frequently
Executive champion strategy.
deliver new products and services.
In turn, the partners can benefit
In many carriers, priorities often shift during development.
from the carrier’s massive
Any change can cause a massive upset, relegating critical projects
to the bottom of the list. Keeping priorities in mind becomes
extremely important. Executive sponsorship is both one of the
simplest, yet most effective ways to make that happen. The study
identified that the appointment of a strong, passionate executive
sponsor was vital in keeping projects on track and on schedule.
In fact, projects with active executive participation rarely slip and
often move up in this process.
Feedback from the study suggests that some carriers are
appointing a champion for each project early on in the
development process. This is to keep an active executive decision
group, retain prioritization and reduce constant starts and stops
that often slow down development work. An executive board can
help ensure that if priorities are changed, each project is
represented in the decision.
As a company’s volume of applications increases, executive
sponsorship becomes more challenging. To pursue this strategy
as volume increases, a company will need to rally sponsorship
around the new services. One way to do this is to appoint an
executive sponsor for a bundle of services or a target user group.
This approach allows the company to continue to retain
management power behind prioritization of next-generation
services, while minimizing the burden on the executive staff.
Streamline the full product management/
development process for smaller
For many carriers, the development process is designed to
ensure the effective implementation of $200 million investments.
While these large investments are still likely, there is a new set of
smaller investments made possible by next-generation
architecture. To leverage this architecture and achieve time-to-
market goals, carriers are taking a close look at their stage-gate
development processes to find ways to shorten this process for
Consider the benefits that were
In most cases, this streamlined process will still require the full
achieved by a large U.S.-based carrier
business case. However, the number of business case iterations
who streamlined by creating a four-
is shortened and the depth of the business case is slightly
pronged product development
reduced commensurate with the lower risk from a smaller effort.
process. The four key components of
By following a similar business case “check list,” smaller projects
the company’s new process included
forming product action committees,
can still be prioritized based on the expected impact to the
implementing a structured
targeted user group within the market. But the development of
development process, conducting
the business case for these smaller projects is typically less
regular phase reviews and
complex and therefore faster to finalize.
assembling core teams.
By establishing this streamlined
Another approach that was identified in the study was to
approach, the company was able to:
streamline by omitting steps from the basic process. For example,
• Enable rapid integration of product
for lower-risk releases, certain aspects of beta testing are skipped
development efforts during two
in favor of a limited release.
In either case, streamlined development processes provide the
• Increase output of new products
by 50 percent with revenue
carrier with a competitive advantage. The ultimate payoff?
contribution growing by 110 percent
A dramatic drop in development time. In general, the benefits of
in year-over-year comparison
this strategy are similar to those resulting from scheduling more
• Synchronize evolving new product-
line strategies with efficient time-to-
market delivery, beating competitors
The one caveat is that without strict guidelines regarding those
to market with next-generation
projects that can be streamlined, the prioritization process could
become complicated and lengthy, negating the time-to-market
• Rapidly integrate efforts with
benefits of streamlining. Many carriers avoid this situation by
strategic alliance partners.
clearly defining the criteria for streamlining, minimizing any
Standardize the business case process.
Most communication companies require the creation of a
business case prior to the development of a new product or
service. This serves as the main decision-making document or
set of documents. While the majority of the respondents use
templates to ensure consistency, many experience a slowdown in
product development when errors are found in the business
case—both before and during development. Often, the business
case must be reworked before the project can move forward.
This type of problem can cause a domino effect, adversely
affecting the credibility of the request, executive prioritization
process and, ultimately, the development timeline.
Results from the study indicate that project delays
Document and refine.
typically occur when:
A better future can be had by studying the mistakes of the past.
• There is no standardized business case tool
By documenting development processes and measuring the time
• Common oversights are discovered in the business cases
cycles, carriers can learn from the past and refine processes over
• Assessments of the scope of work in the business case are
time, greatly speeding time to market. The study indicated that
those companies that invest in recording the performance of this
cycle showed an ability to adapt best-in-class processes from
In positive cases, the survey found that many carriers have a
project to project. They were also able to easily classify
business case process champion who ensures consistency, and
development projects based on complexity, and therefore manage
at the very least can point out differences between cases and the
them more effectively. In many cases, this measurement process
reasons for the differences.
can help refine and enhance product development for a
competitive advantage. Each element should be linked to
To avoid having business case problems emerge during the actual
subsequent stages of development for an end-to-end
“build” stage of the development cycle, key stakeholders should
picture, and to find bottlenecks as the process adapts.
be involved during the initial opportunity assessment phase.
Stakeholders include key consultants, top suppliers, internal IT
Although measuring results can become the benchmark for
managers, customer service, billing and provisioning
success, carriers caution that too much administration can
representatives. This approach greatly reduces the likelihood
overwhelm the development community. Therefore, there must be
that the development team will find a surprise after the project
a balance between measuring results and doing projects.
has started, and helps swiftly address any issues that do arise.
The tools used to measure these actions varied significantly from
project management software to spreadsheet tracking.
IT requirements and business case link standardized.
Whatever the tool, it should connect the process end-to-end and
Another key cause of bottlenecks in getting new products to
not overwhelm the developer’s schedule. Tools that capture
market is the disconnect between product management and
intellectual property during the development process also further
development resources, such as IT. Companies waste precious
the quality initiatives and inspire institutional learning.
time reworking requirements, particularly if the initial requirements
A strong process blueprint that can easily document flow of work
in the business case were not approved by the development
between groups is a powerful way to harvest time-to-market
community. One way to avoid this painful but common pitfall is to
advantages in the communication marketplace. Such a blueprint
standardize the link between the business case and IT
should also trace dependencies and parallel processes and
requirements. In fact, some organizations with the fastest time to
document benchmarks and results. It can be an important
market can take their most effective business case documents
prioritization tool, helping management see the impact of a
and directly relate them to requirement templates.
project on the organization before a decision is made.
Using this approach, each new project offers an opportunity to
rebuild the requirements templates to be more accurate from the
Outsource application work.
beginning of the development build stage. These templates drive
According to the study, a strategy that is growing in popularity is
a consistency that speeds the overall process, but they also allow
the outsourcing of application development. The use of open
for creativity. Rework may not be completely avoidable, as the
standards for developing next-generation applications has leveled
translation between business and technical can be difficult.
the playing field, allowing a wider range of developers to create
However, good templates relieve some of the time-to-market
new products and services. The two most common ways to
barriers in the development process. In today’s next-generation
environment, there must be a strong link between business case
• Offshoring, where application development is relocated,
and requirements so that the increased volume doesn’t stymie
the development cycle.
• Development forums, where the Internet gives developers
access to source code needed to create new applications
Mobile carriers, in particular, have begun using outsourced
development resources within their processes to help speed time
How consultants are used.
It is rare for a single organization to have all the expertise they
Unisys is a worldwide technology services and solutions company.
need on staff. As such, many companies turn to consultants to
Our consultants apply Unisys expertise in consulting, systems
help fill in the gaps. There were some specific comments in
integration, outsourcing, infrastructure, and server technology to help
KMRC’s research about the proper use of consultants in the
our clients achieve secure business operations. We build more
development process. For the most part, the comments focused
secure organizations by creating visibility into clients’ business
the need for consultants either on helping with specific stages of
operations. Leveraging Unisys 3D Visible Enterprise, we make visible
the development process or more directly on looking at the end-to-
the impact of their decisions — ahead of investments, opportunities
end process. In general, providers need consultants to help:
• Refine TTM processes through external benchmark analysis
As a global leader in messaging whose solutions are used by
• Streamline initial opportunity assessment
more than 150 million subscribers worldwide, Unisys helps clients
• Expedite business case and feasibility analysis stage
build customer loyalty and leverage existing resources for greater
• Enhance portfolio management strategy
return. Unisys Communications Ensemble allows service providers
• Leverage consulting neutral status to improve inter-departmental
to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy advanced messaging
communications and coordination issues
solutions in an open environment, delivering reliability, scalability
• Streamline launch preparation
and value in a multimedia world.
• Improve project management execution
To survive in this increasingly competitive market, companies will
need to establish a competitive advantage at every opportunity.
Fully leveraging time-to-market advantages from next-generation
technology is an important step in that process. To do so,
companies must identify and remove the development processes
bottlenecks that impede time to market. This paper outlines the
key strategies in practice today to do just that. Most of the
strategies are related to the rapid deployment of smaller, more
frequent development efforts. But these strategies also hold
promise for large-scale, ongoing efforts, as well. Reduced risk.
More value, more often. Faster adoption. All benefits that next-
generation technology is designed to deliver.
For further information, visit www.unisys.com/communications
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Specifications are subject to change without notice.
© 2006 Unisys Corporation.
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