Turning an idea into a hugely successful product can be a daunting task. However, all products go through what is referred to as “The Product Life Cycle.” Let’s breakdown the product life cycle into a series of phases using the 280 Group’s Optimal Product Process as a guide that will help make your product a success! life cycle
Every product begins with an idea, and idea generation or brainstorming is the first step in identifying a new product to develop. Once a pool of ideas are generated, they’re analyzed and filtered down to the most viable options. After the ideas have been narrowed down, the next step is to develop the best idea into a product concept. Lastly, once the product concept had been developed, it needs to be presented to the product stakeholders to determine if it’s ready to move onto the Product Planning Phase.
Product planning is a process that requires a lot of effort and is not a one and done activity. It has to be monitored and updated throughout the entire product life cycle. Every great product plan starts with a strategy that is communicated through the product roadmap. The product roadmap breakdowns the effort needed to execute on the strategy and develop the product. This document also serves as a source of truth for the team and stakeholders throughout the product life cycle.
Product Development Phase
The process then moves on to the product development phase. Here, the team will develop the product prototype. Depending on the product, developing a functional prototype can take a substantial amount of time and work. Once the team has developed a successful prototype, they will begin making preparations to test and refine the product. Some teams may even conduct internal testing and target market testing prior to beginning the Qualify Phase.
Now that the product exists, it is ready for testing. Conducting product testing gives the team an opportunity to validate the product in realistic market settings before it is introduced to the consumer market. To do this, the team will run a pilot program to test the product, messaging, and positioning. The feedback can be used to make sometimes vital changes in time for the next phase – Product Launch.
After the testing phase completes and the product is ready, it is time to release it into the wild! During this phase, launch activities are conducted to release the product and marketing programs will be in full operation. This is when the real work to establish the product in the marketplace and gain market share begins. The team should also take time to conduct a post mortem on the product development and start work on post-launch updates for the Maximize Phase that is about to start.
Now that the product has been introduced into the consumer market, it is time to reap the rewards from developing it. Product features may be updated multiple times in this phase, especially digital products. Growing the product’s market share, sales support, and competitive differentiation is still very important. However, expenses and marketing activity will decline throughout this phase until it is time to move into the Retire Phase.
When a product’s market is in Decline, the product is reaching the end of its life cycle. It may have been developed to its full potential, overtaken by new technology, or the market has simply dried up. Marketing, expenses, and product support are minimalized and become non-existent as this phase comes to a close, and the product is retired, sold off and or reduced to niche status.
Products may be on the market for a short or long time. Some products fail, and others seemingly will live on forever. However, when one product market ends, a new market will develop to take its place, and the process starts anew. Knowing how to take a product through the entire life cycle and then do it all over again with a new product can be very rewarding for anyone willing to take on the challenge!