The Complete Guide to Product Life Cycle Management

Product Life Cycle Management

Ideas and concepts are living, and they live and die in the same way that people do. Their existence is stories. Some are simple and uninteresting and can lead to boredom. 

In contrast, other stories come with ups and downs, unexpected turns, and stunning moments. 

We can see a precise system, a step-by-step outline if we leave romanticism aside and look behind the veil of metaphors. 

Every life goes through the same conception, birth, life, and death stages. Be it hardware or software; all products follow the same pattern. 

Let’s look at each step of the product life cycle and see what happens.

What Is the Process of Product Development?

To take a product or service from the concept to the marketplace requires time and dedication. By combining these efforts, you can build a new product development (NPD) method. 

The goal of the new product development process, or NPD, is to come up with something new, but also to maximize its value and reduce the risks of failure caused by:

  • Bad quality.
  • A price that is not competitive
  • A limited target audience
  • A bad fit between the product and the market
  • The market entry that is too early or too late
  • Promotional support is insufficient, and brand awareness is low

The introduction, growth, maturity, and decline stages are the first stages of the product life cycle, and the NPD process accompanies this. 

The NPD process is aligned with a product strategy and incorporates several lines of business, notably product management and product development teams.

What Are the Phases of the Product Development Life Cycle?

Every stage has its own set of expenses, possibilities, and dangers. And every different product will vary in how long they stay in each stage. 

Although there are varying views on whether the product life cycle has four, five, or six stages, each option includes the steps below.

Development

The research phase is considered in the product development stage, which precedes a product introduction

This stage is technically not part of the product life cycle. But it is a critical step that you need to take. 

In a nutshell, the development stage verifies a product’s feasibility, establishes when it must go to market, and plans your official release.

At this point, costs are piling up without a commensurate revenue stream. Some products take years to create and evaluate, requiring a significant financial investment. And external funding sources are limited because of the substantial risk.

Established businesses frequently fund research and innovation with profits from their current products. Whereas an entrepreneur often supports this phase from their resources for starting firms. 

It may be wise for people developing a new product to settle on a minimum viable product (MVP) as soon as possible.

Determining an MVP can be as simple as a sketch or complicated as a product prototype. 

You only need enough to show potential investors and customers how your idea will work.

The sooner you can prove its market potential, the more probable you will be able to secure funding and launch.

Introduction

When your product initially hits the market, it is called the introduction phase. 

At this step, you go beyond what you are building, create a market for your product, and increase product awareness. 

You may also strive to define a target market, do a market analysis to understand the competition landscape, and, hopefully, close your first few sales here.

Because it is vital to reach out to potential customers, marketing costs are high. The ideal method concentrates on testing distribution routes and messaging when promoting a new product.

You can use your enormous advertising budget to uncover promotional tools which will lead to increased conversions.

You can secure the intellectual property rights at this stage. Product pricing will vary based on your position in the market, which means that recovering the development expenditures can be expensive. 

The product pricing could also be lower, meaning you’ll be losing money until you get some traction. 

At such times securing early finance and determining your cash runway are critical to your product’s success.

Growth

Customers have approved the product in the growth stage, and you are now attempting to gain market share. It means that the demand and revenue for your product are also increasing at a consistent rate. 

The average time to achieve consistent growth depends entirely on your product, the existing market situation, and client adoption rates.

If you introduce a product into an already saturated market, you may expect competitors to respond promptly. 

On the other hand, your experience will be different if you have entered a marketplace with less competition or have the first-mover advantage in a breakout sector. 

In this case, the response to your product will be slower from the new or present entrants. 

For either scenario, you should fine-tune your messaging, strengthen your brand’s visibility, and extend into new distribution channels throughout the growth phase. 

It is an excellent time at the growth stage for you to add more services to your product to help it stand out. These could be support services, add-ons, and insurance plans. 

Once you decide to add these enhancements, you can see the positive change occurring in your business. 

You’ll also react more quickly to competition and increase a single customer’s return on investment (ROI).

Saturation and Maturity

Once your sales reach the maturity stage, the business will be saturated. 

Maturity doesn’t mean you won’t continue to expand in the marketplace. But the growth rate will slow down. 

To sustain this maturity phase and maintain your products competitively, you may strategize to change things a bit. 

This strategizing could include lowering prices, offering free add-ons, or making other changes. 

But at the very same time, your productivity may have improved, and your production cost has come down a bit. 

Hence it is now possible to avoid costly production errors. 

At this point, even your marketing budget is likely to be more streamlined and successful. Hence even if the volume of your product is not growing, you are making the most money. 

Nevertheless, keep in mind that your rivals have most certainly confirmed their solutions by this time. 

Hence they would’ve snatched a piece of the market which can cause your product’s growth to flatten.

Most customers have tried a variant of your product and have formed brand preferences.

The right time to make any changes that will improve your product or its services is now.

If you’ve reached a point where making substantial changes isn’t an option, you can consider these ways to grow. 

You must prioritize your messaging, services, and updates. 

Even if making only minor adjustments is possible, advertise your product as a refresh with new features or benefits. 

For example, companies make incremental hardware improvements to sell new video game consoles. 

Decline

Your products life cycle has reached a decline stage, when,

  • Your company generates lower revenue which comes from market saturation.
  • There is an increase in competitiveness in the market.
  • And the customer needs are constantly evolving.

At this point, businesses can consider the following options: 

  • To withdraw the product from the market.
  • To transfer the manufacturing rights to another company.
  • To identify new applications for the product.
  • And to make a profit from new opportunities.

When considering any of the above options, you’ll also need to assess the costs and benefits of each choice. 

You can also make things easier by answering the following questions: 

  • Are you confident in your ability to make changes to the product?
  • Are there any other ideas/ processes you haven’t given a shot yet?
  • Are there any other marketplaces for your product that you haven’t considered?

After getting answers to the above questions, it is advisable to run several forecasting scenarios. 

If you have the time, run scenarios to help you better understand each option based on product success. 

Have other products in the pool to fall back on if any of your items fail. 

You should have many products or versions functioning at different phases of the product life cycle. 

What Is the Lean Product Development Cycle?

In the fast-paced product research and development environment, you must use the lean method. 

It helps to eliminate waste and speed up the delivery schedules.

Here we have given five simple stages you can apply to your lean principles of new product development (NPD). 

Applying the lean principles to your NPD can help to boost profits and establish long-term development procedures.

In the production process, there is significant use of lean methods. But companies can also use these methods in any sector. 

The benefits include reduced cycle time, production growth, cost reductions, etc. 

Usually, You Can Consider Five Guiding Principles in Lean Development:

Define What Your Customers Are Worth to You

While building a successful and long-term lean operation, it’s crucial to remember that value always matters. 

First, it is essential to look at the current market state. Then you can start working backward. 

This way, your clients will eventually buy the product before you start product development. Here you are applying a strategy termed “Market Back.”  

A “Market Back” strategy allows you to develop winning items before manufacturing them. 

The phrase “customer” isn’t usually synonymous, and you can put them into three categories.

  • Internal divisions of your customers (all who work for your company).
  • External category of your customers (those who will not work for your company).
  • Based on your product development path (those who will purchase your product).

Two guaranteed approaches will help you discover what your clients value and ultimately buy.

  1. It is to experiment a lot with your product and market. 
  2. And evaluating quickly what the experiment brought forth.

Remember, when you take this approach, you may face specific challenges. Such as: 

  • By promptly rejecting losers without wasting time in attempts to win them back. 
  • To always stay ahead of the competitors. You can do this by being incredibly handy in all of your methods.
  • Another challenging task may be persuading the stakeholders to prioritize delivery over efficiency. 

It doesn’t matter how efficient your development is if you cannot develop the correct product for clients at the right time.

Once you establish the value of your product in the market, your teams must concentrate on the processes. They are often known as the value streams. 

Choose a Value Stream and Concentrate on It

Product development affects the ecosystem of your company. 

To guarantee that you can launch the product efficiently, you need to think through the entire process. You also have to ensure that all stakeholders know their responsibilities very well. 

Companies can run much more smoothly when everyone in the value stream understands and can do their job pretty well. 

The teams included are engineers, manufacturers, salesforce, marketers, and others.

In traditional development cycles, you could notice Multiple ‘hand-offs’ across departments. 

These mishaps resulted in numerous miscommunications and minimal potential for improvement identification. 

Once a product had been designed in R&D, the team handed it over to manufacturing. The manufacturing team was then responsible for putting it into production.

This strategy is turned on its head by lean product development, and rightly so. 

In the lean development method, all the stakeholders are involved from the very beginning. Due to this unity of teams, there are no hand-offs, surprises and everybody is working toward the same goal.

It is considered a good decision made by the teams when stakeholders collaborate on the project initially. 

This way, the number of negative consequences and delays reduces, even as the project progresses. 

Another good decision for companies can be to involve manufacturing teams early on. 

You can detect the problems and solutions before the product is released. And you won’t have the issue at the time of delivery which may delay the whole process. 

In these cases, you can use concurrent development planning, which might help you visualize better. R&D does not fall back immediately in this plan, as you may have seen. 

If you are involved in the launch process, you can easily detect the challenges in the industry and fix them quickly. Teams can do this while retaining a laser focus on giving value.

Eliminate Waste To Increase Flow

Why does a lean firm desire processes and value streams to move faster? That way, the lean firms can serve their customers more quickly. 

Also, the lead time reduces, and the product quality improves. There are high chances of your firm becoming more flexible. 

Above all, a quicker flow equals a reduced product cost.

An organization following the lean method has given a piece of measuring advice. They pointed out that you can calculate a product’s price through the value stream flow rate.

What else can you do to make things go along more quickly? 

You can start by evaluating the process to determine what adds value and what doesn’t. 

Also, ascertain whether teams may complete actions simultaneously without waiting for dependencies.

Adapt to Customer Demands

You need to identify the consumer pull to accelerate the product development process. 

You can pull the lens through which flows are assessed and analyzed for continual improvements, urging customers to buy a product (consumer demand).

It is advisable to eradicate waste since it helps to improve the flow and customer experience. 

Once you eradicate waste, you can increase efficiency by allocating time to work on more valuable tasks. 

It’s crucial to understand that pulling is not the same as rushing through tasks.

Instead, it also enables you to respond rapidly to consumer needs and operate in a more focused atmosphere.

If staying on top of production data and efficiently responding to pull is your goal. Then your company must be monitoring processes at all times. 

And if your business has less space or money locked up in raw commodities. In such a case, you’ll be better able to respond swiftly to consumer demands. 

To achieve more efficient results, you may also leverage your enhanced flows.

You might be able to reduce future reliance on predicting and guesswork if, instead, you spend that time confirming demand (pull) and responding quickly (flow) on behalf of consumers. 

Repetition Is the Key To Attaining Perfection

Repetition is the key to developing an excellent lean product. 

First, you need to identify the value and then construct the value streams and eliminate the waste. After that, add both the flow and pull. 

Once you have combined all the above pointers, repeat the process until you have attained a state of excellence. 

This way, your entire product cycle will result in measurable value without any waste. 

With the help of lean product development principles, availability, speed, effectiveness, and quality is possible. 

Establishing a business case for your lean project during the product development cycle is necessary. 

However, it can be challenging if you aren’t concentrating on the bottom line. 

To make the process smoother, get approval from the management team for lean product development. 

You can do this by seeing and tracking your outcomes after you’ve implemented them!

Conclusion

Whether you’re developing a brand new product or dealing with a mature, well-established organization, product life cycle stages can come in handy. They will also guide your marketing initiatives.

Every stage in the product life cycle is essential. 

It will help you determine how you will inform your audience about the product and position your brand in the marketplace. 

These steps can also guide you to proceed even after the decline phase. 

You may invest in more innovative marketing strategies to get a higher ROI

And finally, to get the desired results for your product, know your product’s life cycle.

Crafting great product requires great tools. Try Chisel today, it's free forever.