A product, even before it is released to the market, begins its journey through a series of stages called a lifecycle: introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. Product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of handling a product’s lifecycle from research and development until its retirement from the market. Product lifecycle management software helps you understand the lifespan of your product by connecting you with the data involved throughout the lifecycle. This way, all the development data, history of change, and other operations are reported and managed efficiently, cutting costs and saving time.
At the beginning of a product’s lifecycle, the new product is introduced with the goal of creating awareness. Profit isn’t a high priority, just yet, at this stage. Instead, you’ll want the market to know about your product. Continued research and development are necessary to meet the demands of the market. Some design processes also occur in the introduction stage. In order to keep track of what changed, who changed it, and when it was applied, a part or product record stores all the data relevant to the item. This data along with other information, such as part specifications and requirements, is accessible to your team, enhancing and simplifying the introductory phase of the lifecycle.
As your product goes through the stage of growth, it steadily increases in profit. And with the right form of product marketing, demand increases. Here’s where your company starts getting in touch and collaborating with suppliers. Being updated about the status of your inventory ensures optimal distribution. PLM software is able to provide you with the supply-chain information that you need. Data such as suppliers, costs, and lead-times are easily accessible once connected to the system.
The maturity stage is where your product stabilizes in the market, unlike at the development stage where you were heavily depending on retailers to market your new product. Now, your focus is on keeping your products visible to the market. While product sales may be at their highest in this stage, new entrants in the industry create more competition and introduce innovations that maybe eventually edge out your product. Saturation of the market is also something to contend with, at this stage of the lifecycle.
Some companies make changes and improvements during this stage, such as altering the packaging to directly appeal to specific consumers. These changes can be easily tracked using the right software and PLM products.
As the stage of decline approaches, however, your product faces possible retirement from the shelves. New product innovations and competitors may greatly shift market demand. While some companies still try to keep an existing product relevant in an ever-evolving marketing and consumer landscape, one ideal option is to pre-plan your next product. With all the data you have collected using your PLM software, you’ll be able to study the history of change and everything else you did with your first product.
With an efficient product lifecycle management tool, you are ensured of a better system for your company and a higher quality product in the market. Products and the fads that surround them come and go; but one beneficial aspect to knowing a product’s lifecycle is for your company to see their end as the beginning of something new.