Lifecycle Management

Guide: The 5 Stages

Lifecycle management exists because product managers, start-up founders, and business owners worth their salt know that there are few jobs as challenging as product management. And no wonder: the statistics on new product launches are scary. Somewhere between 80% to 95% of new product launches fail!

Interestingly, this is similar to the failure rate of TSA agents trying to prevent crazy stuff from getting onto planes. I’m not sure which is scarier.

These crazy numbers are the primary reason large, established organizations prefer to acquire new products by paying a huge premium to buy out a successful start-up. The alternative — attempting to build one from scratch — is much riskier.

For instance, when Google purchased YouTube for USD 1.5 billion back in 2006, everyone said they were paying a crazy amount for YouTube, and that they would never be able to recover their investment, let alone make money from it. Today, YouTube is as big as Netflix.

Building a product from scratch or handling a fledgling product may be super tough, but (surprise, surprise!) managing an established product isn’t any easier.

This is why agile product lifecycle management methodologies like The Lean Startup by Eric Ries are part of the required reading list for all product managers. These agile product lifecycle management philosophies attempt to move the needle towards the science side of the art vs science product success spectrum. 

Here’s what I’ll cover in this article:

Let’s take a look at product lifecycle management and the history of product lifecycle management as well.

What Is Product Lifecycle Management?

Product lifecycle management is a comprehensive framework that product companies use to manage a product through the phases of the product lifecycle. 

PLM is a product management process that encompasses all aspects of a product including managing, planning, design, manufacturing, marketing, resources, and people, as well as the software that goes along with each of these aspects. It is an umbrella term that means different things to different organizations.

Today several software companies offer PLM software products and solutions that help product managers handle decision-making on processes like pricing and marketing strategy. PLM is now synonymous with the PLM software systems that help manage the product lifecycle. Let’s look at the history of PLM to gain some perspective.

The Stages Of The Traditional Product Lifecycle

At the heart of product lifecycle management resides the product lifecycle. A given product moves through the product lifecycle during its lifetime. The product lifecycle begins when the product is launched into the market and ends when the product reaches end-of-life and is taken off the shelves, physically or virtually.

By studying the traditional product lifecycle, we’re attempting to improve our chances of success at the game of product management. Like every attempt to model reality, the product management lifecycle is not perfect. It is, however, a good approximation and more importantly, useful for product managers trying to ride the beast

The traditional product lifecycle consists of 5 stages: 

  • Teaser
  • Introduction
  • Growth
  • Maturity
  • Decline

There are some variants to this which consist of 4 product lifecycle stages or even 6 stages, but since we’re discussing the traditional product lifecycle, we’re going to stick to 5 stages