What is the product lifecycle?
The product lifecycle represents the specific phases of creating and developing a product or service, shaped by customer input and market research.
While different organizations can use their own nomenclature for each of the stages, in general, the product lifecycle is a continuous process that includes the following phases:
- Customer feedback
Quantitative and qualitative research, customer feedback and sales results are just a few examples of inputs and outputs into the various stages.
In addition to the entire lifecycle representing a holistic feedback loop, each individual or group of phases can be cyclical or iterative, rerouting or looping back as feedback or testing refines an idea further. Because of the potential complexity in managing so many types of data, specifications and notes, many teams utilize tools to help to analyze and streamline the movement through the product lifecycle processes.
Finally, products, over time, can have their own overarching lifecycle that moves from development, introduction and growth to maturity, saturation and even decline. This view of the product development lifecycle helps companies understand where their products are in their trajectory so they can make better decisions on how to continue to grow in the marketplace.
Why are product lifecycle important?
Utilizing each of the product lifecycle stages can help a company to shape an idea into something that will be profitable and successful. As an idea moves through each phase, requirements and features are refined and filtered — often over multiple iterations — and are continuously informed by data in order to increase the chance of success and the potential value seen by customers.
While there are many benefits to structuring product development within a lifecycle, one of the most important is the ability to identify which products or services are viable and those that aren’t early in the process, either for development reasons, a low profit margin or a lack of customer interest. Instead of being frustrated by results such as these, businesses can instead find solace in the idea that precious resources and investment dollars were not used on something that would not have ultimately been viable.
How do I use the product lifecycle to improve my business?
While the product development team typically owns the product lifecycle, it is important to include feedback and input from across the various business functions, both so they understand the vision of the idea and so they can supply additional data to refine the concept.
Additionally, the stages of the lifecycle help to introduce structure into a product development process that could otherwise be fluid or disorganized, which could result in sufficient information from which to draw a conclusion about the viability of an idea.
Instead, through the product lifecycle:
- Proposed features can be prioritized
- User feedback and market research can be integrated into early-stage development and on a continuous basis
- Marketing and pricing can be evaluated as functionality develops
- Product launch can be used as an opportunity to refine the product or service with customer feedback serving as new feature inputs
One method to quickly introduce this structure and balance the various facets of product research is through product experience software. For B2B SaaS providers, Gainsight’s PX solution offers all of the features and tools your company needs to start product lifecycle management off on the right foot, streamlining the processes and adding the structure your team needs.