The Product Lifecycle depends on three big questions:

  • Is the product a completely new concept vs an add-on to an existing product suite?
  • Does the technology for the building the product exist or would it need extensive research?
  • Is the product a physical product vs a digital product?

All these questions impact the earlier stages of the product life cycle, while the later half of any product stays the same.

If it’s a new product, you would have to spend more time on the concept design stage which would involve:

  • Figuring out the problem to solve
  • Testing how intense is the requirement of the product in the market (is it a need vs want analysis). This would involve market research (user interviews, analyst report, market demand analysis). This would essentially be where you would first test out the idea or conduct detailed idea analysis.

Then once you have your idea or product concept buttoned down, you need to test it for feasibility or conduct concept genesis. Here is when the second question about existing or new technology comes into play. If the technology does not exist, then you need to first research and build out the technology or invent it , and possibly even patent it, so that you own the intellectual property rights over it.

Once you have the technology in place, you need to build out the prototype it. This is the first stage where you are actually testing it. And here the third question comes into play. For a digital product or web-based product a simple quick and dirty prototype can be put out into a small section of the market and analysed. A physical product would be very different as depending on the product there might be other compliance criteria’s you have to meet.

The prototype depending on your budget would essentially either be a alpha version to be shipped off to trained testers, or a feature complete beta version. Both these stages would introduce bug fixing cycles into the product development life cycle.

Once your product is bug free or meets the product quality checklist and standards, it is ready to be released to the user base or market. The release cycle also could vary vastly on what’s targeted development cycle looks like whether you want an agile or an iterative release cycle. This would in-turn depend on the budget and timeline constraints.

Once the beta product has been released to a controlled market, you need to test, and analyse the product performance in real-time, closely monitoring it against key performance indicators for early identification of any red-flags. When the product meets your target KPI guidance, that’s when it is really to be a full product and should be released to the whole customer base.

A very important phase that would kick-start a product development phase would be the planning and budgeting phase. This would be right at the starting of the cycle, once every involved stakeholder group signs off on the product idea.

Every phase would then require constant project management to make sure the cost and delivery time-line do not cross the contingency or risk budget build into the cycle.

The success of the product would then require monitoring of adoption and monetization of the concept and information would have to be collected to measure the ROI of the product. The ROI would then determine whether to keep the product in the market and incur the cost of maintaining or selling it, or to withdraw it.