In a world where data is king, companies need to implement smart strategies to manage and leverage it. Otherwise, you risk being overwhelmed as an organization. Data management can affect your ability to provide consistent service, achieve higher levels of productivity, and keep vital information from falling into the wrong hands.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a process that allows you to manage data, knowledge, and characteristics throughout a product’s entire life. It involves numerous aspects, such as product requirements, engineering, production, maintenance, support, change, and product disposal.
In this article, we will discuss the PLM sequence and ways to manage your product life cycle more effectively to support company goals and profitability.
Benefits of Product Lifecycle Management
PLM brings several benefits to your organization. It helps you organize various development initiatives, information, and capabilities. It is also highly scalable. You can evaluate product performance and adjust to feedback in real-time, without waiting for customer reports.
Another benefit of PLM is that it lowers the costs of bringing a product to market while allowing you to finish the product faster. Whether you need to make incremental changes to an existing product or create something revolutionary, this approach provides flexibility.
The Primary Stages of Product Lifecycle Management
The PLM paradigm assumes that your product goes through four primary stages:
1. Product Development
This is the stage where your research and development occurs, and you introduce the product to your team or development process.
2. Product Growth
At this stage, your product is more than a hypothetical. For physical products, this means that your product is live on your site for purchase, or sitting on shelves in a retail store. For digital products, it can merely be uploading the code to take the new or updated product live.
3. Product Maturity
At this stage, your product is widely available. There will be multiple competitors that you need to deal with. You may begin marketing to various subcategories of your market. Advertising can be more creative and focused on exposure than bringing in an immediate return on investment (ROI).
4. Product Decline
At this point, your product has begun to lose market share. It is becoming obsolete, or the market is missing the demand for it. Product decline is where investment in upgrades and innovation occurs.
Now, let’s look at ways to make PLM easier and more productive:
1. Maximize Your Workforce
Your workforce can either be an invaluable asset or a huge expense. It all depends on how effective and efficient they are operating. Ensure that your standard operating procedures (SOPs) encourage efficiency.
When utilizing the software and tools at their disposal, they should aim to complete tasks in the fewest steps possible. This also includes developing and tweaking your product to ensure fewer steps for all users, including customers.
2. Provide Access to All Participants in the Product Lifecycle
Across various stages of the product lifecycle, different team members will be interacting with the product. They need to quickly access and make appropriate changes to the product to keep it moving along without delay.
Ensure that communication channels allow key stakeholders to relay information and updates about their changes to the product.
For instance, customer service agents should contact development leads for new ideas and product innovation to cut lead times and speed up the communication cycle.
3. Use Automation
We live in a digital world. With the Internet of Things (IoT), devices are more connected than ever. Smart technology brings opportunities or challenges, depending on your organizational focus.
The more data and technology you have in your organization, the more you have to deal with. Using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a smart way to streamline processes within your organization.
You can apply this to accounting, programming, sales, and more. It frees up individuals to focus on higher-level tasks that grow your business.
4. Track Asset Performance
Asset Management (AM) is a crucial component of effective PLM implementation. Your information from PLM should flow to AM to avoid issues later on in your product life cycle. It allows you to analyze asset performance, calculate risks, distribution efficiency, and potential ROI for existing and new products.
For instance, if your metric is “time spent within the business portal” for a digital customer-facing product, then you can use the feedback toward this aim. You might find certain assets like videos or text better assist the user and increase engagement with the product.
5. Track and Analyze Customer Data
Without customers, you can’t have a profit. Knowing exactly who your customers are is an integral part of any business. But you need the right tools to track them accordingly. Otherwise, your team will be wasting valuable time.
Use a quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. You should be able to segment customers based on different characteristics.
This can be any of the following:
- Whether or not they were an early adopter
- How far along the buying journey they are
- Whether they have made repeat purchases or not
- Their age, location, and other demographic information
- Their contact information for official communication and promotional messaging
By knowing how your customers are interacting with your product at various touchpoints and times in its lifecycle, you can begin to understand how different segments react to your product changes.
This knowledge allows you to present new and enhanced versions consistently throughout the lifecycle of the product.
Today’s business world is more competitive than ever before. And with the IoT and wealth of other data at your fingertips, your company needs to handle product information with a centralized strategy. Otherwise, you risk lost productivity and competitiveness.
Having a smooth PLM not only posies your business for more growth, but also reduces pressure on your workforce.
Everyone who interacts with the product over its lifecycle will know precisely how their work contributes to the bottom line and what tasks are necessary to keep the cycle moving along its intended path.