As a living person, each product or a project has life cycles. And as a living creature, projects can be born; they can develop and die. The product development life cycle cannot stagnate and continue to develop forever or be in a forever decline.
The average person commonly sees the project in its growth and maturity stages and probably cannot tell the difference. Nonetheless, everyone participating in the product development life cycle process knows that each step is crucial and inevitable. All of the product development cycles have their aspects, and they flow consistently.
Let’s learn more about what is the product development life cycle and take a closer glance at each stage in this article.
Building up a project from scratch is not an easy case, and this case depends on a lot of time, money, and effort. All these efforts combined create a new product development life cycle.
The concept of the product life cycle was created to build a new project with higher efficiency and maximize its value, and reduce any possible risks of failure. A certain amount of justifications can cause project failure:
The product launch cycle starts from the initial idea that led to the project formation and ends with the project’s decline. Different teams and business units take action on different stages.
In the next paragraphs, we will define each step of the product development life cycle stages in detail and discuss all the work specifications on each stage.
The software product life cycle can be divided into four distinctive phases: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Some specialists add a development stage for the software products as the software should be produced before presenting it to the general public.
At that time, the software product development life cycle can be divided into six sub-categories: plan and discover, build, launch, learn, iterate, or kill, and maturity.
We would like to take a closer look at every stage and learn more about the special features of each step.
Let us start with the product development cycle definition. A product life cycle is a series of labeled stages that can be distinguished in different commercial products. We usually allocate five stages: development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline.
The start of the product life cycle and the first stage is development. This product development life cycle step includes constructing the project, research, brainstorm, and other idea discoveries.
This stage often includes research of the market, benchmarking, the general analysis of possible competitors, and profound research on the topic.
A good tip for this stage would be to gather feedback from potential customers. Make surveys or create a focus group to test the reaction to the future product before you start the development process.
Do not forget to include all the team members in the brainstorming: developers, managers, designers. Each member of a team can bring their valuable opinion. It’s better to decide on releasing the minimum viable product, including your team and potential customers’ feedback. Once you are done with these processes, you are ready to proceed with the product creation cycle step and introduce your project to the general public.
The next stage begins with the promotion of the product. It’s really important to spread the word about your project for the people to buy your product. They need to hear about it first.
There are two main strategies of product promotion and introduction: penetration strategy and skimming strategy. Both of these strategies are primarily based on the pricing of your product.
The presentation strategy implies setting low prices and gradually increasing them once your product is well-known already. This might be the best solution if profit is not the first goal of yours, but you would like your brand and product to get a perfect reputation and popularity. The skimming strategy, on the contrary, means you will set your prices higher than an average on the market and lower them over time. This strategy is a risky one. However, it may bring you significant revenue.
Growth is a product development life cycle stage characterized by the increase of your product’s market share. At this stage, the forces and the budget are mainly focused on marketing and promotion. This is the best stage for advertising and expansion of your customer base. The marketing strategies differ for B2B and B2C companies.
For example, B2C companies can find new customers using numerous social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Brands can start their blogs to promote new products or use more “traditional” methods like TV advertisements, articles in magazines, or radio ads.
B2B companies may use more professional media, like Linkedin. You can visit niche conventions for your business sector, send emails or brochures via the mail. Successful marketing and advertising campaigns inevitably lead to an increase in the number of sales and consumers. After this period of growth, your product will face a more stable and fruitful stage. Then, a step of maturity comes.
After the introduction and growth stages, your project reaches the maturity stage. If the first two steps were successful, the third one should be a phase of financial stability and a reliable purchasers base.
When finances and sales are stable for a lengthy period, you might like to return to the development stage. Analyzing your project, sales performance, discovering potential improvements, and available options. Innovation is the key to success, and a stable period that lasts for too long can lead you to stagnation.
It’s important not to be overwhelmed by your success and not to stop your development. Even great products cannot live on the market forever if they deny innovations. More innovative competitors can easily overthrow retrograde companies that refuse to evolve.
Never stop improving your company and your products. Otherwise, your project can meet the next step of the product development life cycle: decline.
The decline stage is the beginning of the end of your product development life cycle. Sales began to fall, and new, more successful competitors entered the market. If your product didn’t change over time, more innovative companies could have easily offered something new and better.
To avoid this situation and stay relevant to your customers, you should reevaluate your existing product and think of how it can be improved or changed. Your company should adapt to the changing market. The best way to overcome the decline is to restart your project and start from the developing stage again.
Some companies may even eliminate unsuccessful products and allow competitors to take this niche. However, there’s always a chance of developing a new innovative product and entering the market again.
The product development cycle is basically a part of the product life cycle. The main difference between these two large parts is that the development cycle focuses on the planning part, research, development, estimation, and evaluation of a product. The product life cycle is based on its market achievements, value, and share.
Product development cycles are: plan and discover, build, launch, iterate or kill, and maturity.
In the next paragraphs, we will discover more about phases of the product development life cycle.
The plan and discovery stage consists of all the actions that need to be performed before the actual build process. The business and strategic plans are important parts of this step, and you need to make all the necessary calculations at this point to guarantee more chances for success for your product.
Before building and launching your product, you need to understand the market you are entering better. For this reason, you need to perform market research, make benchmarking, and competitive analysis. Your research should answer the following questions:
The plan and discovery phase should concentrate on your research on the cost of the production and the price of the product itself. You should have a clear business plan that includes all the risks you may face during the launch, etc.
After all the calculations and planning, you may proceed with the next step: the build.
The build phase of the product design life cycle follows the plan and discover stage. The software and the hardware production of the product begins. This stage mainly revolves around teamwork, and cooperation is the key to the successful build stage.
Your team should plan the development process methods, understand the demands of the consumers, and elaborate on all the technical questions.
Once you complete your planning, you should prioritize all the steps and tasks. Set deadlines for each one. The less important ones can be completed later, and some of the essential steps should be done at the earliest convenience.
At the build stage of the product development cycle, you may discover that not all the features you have planned can be implemented in the final product. It’s important to find a compromise and discuss all the nuances with your team to proceed with another version of your product without losing time and money.
Your first release might be a minimum viable product. From the first release, you should continue your work on the design, performance, and development. Maintaining work and development at this stage will ensure better results, and you will be able to proceed to the launch.
Like the introduction part in the product life cycle methodology, the launch is where you present your product to the broader audience.
Advertising and promotion are really important at this stage. Combine your product’s physical launch with digital events and present your product at the relevant events and conventions.
Your sales and operations team should be prepared weeks before the launch, and their teamwork will lead you to success.
Once the launch of your product is complete, make sure to track all the numbers to analyze your sales, performance of your product, and other metrics further. Do not forget to listen to the customer’s feedback as your audience wants to be heard.
So, your product was launched successfully. You have some metrics and feedback on your hands. It’s time to learn and improve. You may now focus on improving ROI, A/B testing, or testing what makes your customer return.
It’s better to test every feature of your product to see if some of them need improving. The results may also show that some of the features are better to be removed. Make sure to set clear KPIs to evaluate your product and to measure its success.
Some of the key metric measures are called AARRR Metrics, and they are:
Use all the metrics and customer feedback you have received to improve your product and adapt it to the market. You need to stay relevant to stay on the changing market.
Not all products are destined to succeed. You should monitor your product and maintain it after the launch.
Iterate or kill software product life cycle stage uses the assessment and evaluation stage results and decides whether the product should stay and evolve or go.
Obviously, products with the worst performance results should be removed as they don’t get enough interaction with the customer base, don’t generate enough engagement, or even don’t bring enough revenue.
After you analyze which features to keep and remove and better understand your product performance, a maturity stage comes in. For some, this is one of the most desired product development life cycle stages. However, it has its risks and challenges.
Not to lose your brand relevance and keep your income, you should return to the development stage again.
From the maturity stage, starting the developing process all over again should be much easier as you have all the numbers on your hands and a team of great specialists used to work together.
Keep your product evolving, keep an eye on your competitors and learn from your mistakes, and you will stay on the market for the maximum time possible.
Throughout all the stages of the new product development life cycle, it’s important to keep an eye on your customer’s feedback. These days it’s easier to make as you may make surveys, send emails with the invitation to leave feedback, or ask for thoughts and opinions on social media.
Don’t interpret negative reviews as provocation from your competitors or bullying. Each dissatisfied customer is your chance to improve.
Make sure to gather all the feedback, both positive and negative, to improve your product or service. Your audience wants to be heard. If you simply ignore your customers, they will have no choice but to abandon your service. Moreover, their negative opinion may spread in their circles, and your reputation will suffer.
We have discussed product development cycles. In brief, they are development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. The development stage can be divided into six smaller parts: plan and discover, build, launch, learn, iterate or kill, and maturity.
Each step in the concept of the product life cycle is important and cannot be skipped.
The main key to the success of your product is to keep it relevant and do not stop the development. It’s easy to be overthrown by your more innovative competitors. So, don’t give them a chance and keep discovering new things. Keep evolving and growing. And we at Fireart Studio will gladly help you on your way to create a great product.
Just tell us about your project, what are your goals, and let's start.