Product Management Lifecycle Stages form part of every product that is in the market. It is not limited to a particular type of product or industry. It affects all products. The length of time each product stays in a particular stage might vary depending on different factors. The industry, customer and competitive landscape are some of them.
In this blog we will look at the product management lifecycle process which enables us to navigate through each stage. The blog has been written keeping in software product management and that is the focus. While most of the content is applicable for other industries as well some things might change in your case
There are a lot of software for product lifecycle management that can help you manage PLM. Companies like Oracle, SAP and Autodesk have great offerings in this space. That is not the focus of this blog though. Here we will look more at the concept of product lifecycle management.
There are 4 stages of Product Lifecycle Management. So without further ado let’s begin with the first stage 🚀
You have an idea. What do you do? You test it out to see whether it has potential for growth. At this stage you don’t want to invest too much into the product because it’s potential is unknown. Important things to keep in mind at this stage.
When testing your idea you should find ways that do not take up too much of the team’s resources. This is because at this stage the product’s demand is not validated by the market and no one knows how much profit it will make for the company.
The scope of the product needs to be limited to only what is needed to get the job done. No bells and whistles or fancy animation or major technical changes. At this stage it is always better to buy or partner for the underlying technology versus building it out from scratch.
If it takes you too much time to either introduce the product or test it then it might cause challenges. The market might have moved by then or new products might have been launched. So complete your product introduction and testing within a reasonable amount of time.
One of the key aspects of this stage is that you should be able to make changes to your product based on what you learn from customers. Your team needs to be flexible with changing the product based on evidence it get’s from the market.
It is critical for the team to be able to make changes quickly so that you can go out and test the new version of your product again and again.
A great way to introduce a new product in the market is by building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It enables you to follow the build test and iterate framework and focus on what’s important.
The product manager at this stage focuses completely on looking at how people are using the product. This is done by interviewing and surveying users and analyzing the data you gather in the process.
Their goal is to continually iterate till the point you have reached Product Market Fit.
Your product has achieved product market fit. Now what? Growth!. In this stage you need to make sure that the product gets the right support to grow and reach its full potential.
The goal of the growth phase is to get new users. And lot’s of them. And if they pay right off the bat even better 😄
There are different things that come into focus at this stage.:
Building the Team
Having the right team is critical. Growth phase requires specific skills. You should be someone who thrives in a fast paced, metric driven setup and be itching to try out new innovative ways to bring in customers.
This can mean different things in different industries. When more people start using your product you need to make sure that your platform is able to handle the sudden influx of users. This is critical and often neglected until your site is on fire 🔥 🔥 . Product Managers play a role in this as well. Prioritizing user facing features is important but making sure that the backend(for lack of a better term) is stable enough to provide a seamless experience is equally important. As a product manager you have to make sure you balance different features when prioritizing work. Don’t worry we’ve got your back 😎
Check out the following resources we have on how to Prioritize Like a Pro:
Top of the funnel activities play a big role at the growth stage. You will only grow if more people come and try out your product and convert into customers. It is important for the product manager to work closely with the product marketing manager at this stage. Before the marketing team invests in creating marketing collateral and running ad campaigns everyone should be clear on three things:
You can create a Product Value Proposition Document to standardize this. Here is a template for you to use
Companies often subsidize growth. Discounts, coupon code and other incentives are showered at the users to get them hooked to the product.
Pricing & Tiering
At this stage you also focus on creating the right tiers of your product at the right pricing. Let’s talk about Product Tiering for your product. There are three things you need to balance here:
You start out by making a list of all the features and functionality that your product provides. Then create groupings of closely linked features. Keep in mind that each tier should have just enough value to appeal to a target group of customers. And the next tier should have something more, something different that can justify the jump that customers will make to subscribe to a higher tier.
Pricing has to be tested. You will not get it right the first time. You might also need a free tier or free trial that enables customers to experience the power of your product without shelling out any moolah. This will further unlock future growth for your team 📈
This is the stage where your product has established itself as a key player in the market. Prospects know about it and it’s really a matter of making sure that you make the right investments in the product.
Product Managers who manage products at this stage focus on three things.
**Improve Retention **
During the growth phase you relentlessly work towards acquiring new users. Now is the time to make sure that those users stay with the company for a long time. You want to increase the customer’s lifetime value as much as possible while trying to reduce the cost of acquiring them. Product Managers need to make sure that the:
Keep up with competition
At this stage your product has become the incumbent. As in life new competition will rise to challenge your position. That my friend is evolution. You have to keep up with the market. The product manager needs to find:
As the product manager you need to find answers to all these questions and build out the product roadmap based on what you find.
When you have a customer base that believes in your ability to deliver solid products then it becomes easier to upsell. Talk to your customers and find out if there are other related problems that are frustrating them. Is it possible to expand the use case of your product to solve these problems? Will customers pay for it?
Decline is certain. It is the ultimate truth. There could be lots of reasons for it:
So what’s the point then. Is every product eventually going to fail? Well it depends on what your definition of failure is. There are two things you have some control over.
Speed of the decline
When we say that your product is going to decline, that doesn’t mean that it will happen overnight. It’s not like you will wake up one day and have zero customers. The speed at which your product declines and fades into the sunset depends on you. You have to look at early signs in the maturity phase. Ask yourself:
What you learn from the decline
We have made it clear that decline is inevitable. Your job is to learn from it. The decline will tell you how to slow it down. Or it will point you to the next area of growth for your company. So think of decline as the phase which will help you find the next big thing to pivot to. This will fuel your growth.
Some notable examples that are easy to identify and most people can relate to when talking about decline and pivots are:
Here’s a great exercise you can do to further increase your understanding of product lifecycle management.
Tell us what you find. We will be happy to share it with our readers.
As a product manager I enjoy the first two phases more than the third and fourth. Which phase do you like more? Tell us about it 🧐 .
One thing to remember in all this. As always “USERS” play a central role in each phase. That’s the only constant in product management.