The Product Management Lifecycle Overview

The product management lifecycle can mean a few different things depending on the business climate you are working with. For example, when dealing with brick and mortar retail, product management entails a longer process with fewer steps, where with ecommerce, it involves very short lifecycles with more steps.

So, in order to really, fully appreciate what a product management lifecycle really entails, let’s take a look at the phases of this cycle in general, as it applies to both types of environment. I find that in product management, this lifecycle concept seems to be somewhat mystifying to people more than any other aspect, and that says a lot, given how niche and difficult this field is to get into and master.

Hopefully this will shed some light on this, and make it a bit less baffling in the future.

#1 – Design

This is where people get confused, because a lifecycle in this field is a repetitive thing, renewing over time, which means that sometimes, surely, design can’t be a starting point, with a product that’s already been designed, right?

Well, design also applies to taking in more info from R&D and customer feedback, to improve the product, before renewing a cycle. This could be anything from just updating packaging and branding, or improving the actual product in some way.

#2 – Manufacturing

This one’s obvious, but since with most products, it’s an ongoing process even when a cycle’s not renewing, this also seems to confuse people. But, in the overall lifecycle, it’s the second phase, especially when a cycle is renewing.

#3 – Distribution

This is what usually causes a cycle to renew, and this is where ecommerce and brick and mortar differentiate pretty sharply. These cycles change more often in ecommerce, as storefronts are redesigned, and better technology to assist them are implemented, or the page gets a facelift.

But, it does change from time to time with brick and mortar, as shelf facing changes, or demand for product shifts. This is also disrupted, and the cycle renews, when a branding or packaging change is made, which does happen more often these days than it once did.

#4 – Customer Experience

This actually brings in a whole other science, that of customer experience, which includes marketing, availability, use and customer service for the product where it’s necessary.

#5 – End of Life

End of life comes in a number of ways. It can just be looked at as the smaller cycle, from the design board to the customer. It can also be looked at as the larger cycle of a product above just a one time use. This end of life can come from problems with a product, improvements that justify immediate application, rebranding to add new life to marketing and compatibility with popular culture, any number of things.

Considering these cycles aren’t as linear as other life cycles in other business sciences, it can be a bit confusing to wrap your mind around them, but I help outlining the product management lifecycle like this has helped, or at least given you some good grounds to do further research. If you can come to terms with this esoteric sort of lifecycle, then you’ve overcome the biggest hurdle there is to getting a grip on product management.

Mark Silver
Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.
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