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Product Management Lifecycle: A Comprehensive Guide

product management lifecycle

Did you know that 80 to 95 percent of new product launches fail? Successful products are not made by default.

Behind every great product is a product launch strategy that accounts for product development, customer requirements, market research, and testing. The product management lifecycle covers all aspects of the product — development, design, marketing, and sales — from start to end. 

And behind every product strategy are highly-skilled and qualified product managers.

What is a Product Management Lifecycle?

A product management lifecycle is a comprehensive framework that businesses use to manage a product throughout its lifecycle, from introduction to market removal. 

There are multiple ways to design and manage a product – including how it is resourced and introduced to target users and how it satisfies customer and business needs. Your approach to product management will directly impact your perception of the product management lifecycle process.

The product management lifecycle can be defined as the optimization of product performance through the different product lifecycle stages, from start to end. It is crucial to identify the lifecycle stages and make strategic choices about things like when to invest more in introducing a new feature, choosing your target users, and more. 

The PM lifecycle process can also be considered a product-shaping framework to meet business and customer needs.

Four Stages in the Product Management Lifecycle

During its lifetime, every product moves through various stages, starting with its launch into the market and ending with its market removal, physically or virtually. Understanding these stages of the traditional product lifecycle is essential for successful product management. 

The four stages of the product life cycle (PLC) are:


The first stage of the PLC begins with product ideation and continues until its market launch. This stage focuses on advertising, sales, and distribution so the product can transition to the next lifecycle phase.


Once the product is successfully launched and has survived, it transitions to the growth phase. In this phase, gaining new customers and increasing market share is vital. Companies do this by scaling and developing additional features and functionalities to capture a bigger market share. The main challenges at this stage include managing marketing strategy, pricing, rolling out new features, and boosting capacity and distribution. 


This phase of a product lifecycle begins with a dip in growth rate. This might be the longest phase for most successful products, and most products currently in use in the market are probably in the maturity phase. At this stage, sales grow very slowly or remain stagnant. The focus is on retaining existing users rather than acquiring new ones.


Most products will witness an eventual decline in their lifecycle—a drop in sales marks this stage. When the product is no longer marketable, teams develop an exit strategy to withdraw the product from the market, redirect resources to new products, and return to the introduction phase. 

Who Owns the Product Management Cycle?

The product management teams and the product managers are responsible for the product management lifecycle. But not in silos.  The product teams create, develop, and market the product by drawing expertise from several other departments, namely design, engineering, finance, and marketing. The teams work together to ensure effective planning and organization, workflows, and delivery. 

The product management cycle is inherently cross-functional, meaning better communication and less conflict while preventing the scope for information silos and repeat work. 

Due to the nature of the PM lifecycle, ownership is less important than establishing a shared product vision where the customer experience is at heart. 

The Limitations of Traditional Product Management Lifecycle Model

As mentioned earlier, the traditional product lifecycle model consists of four main phases — introduction, growth, maturity, and decline.

However, the pre-defined expectations of how a product will move through the product lifecycle can lead to poor decision-making. Due to the following reasons:

The introduction phase of a product management lifecycle should focus on getting to know the customer, their needs, and how you can solve their problem. This focus can be overlooked by a lifecycle that focuses on early return on investment. 

Not every product enjoys the same kind of growth as is predicted by the traditional lifecycle methods. Any mistake in growth strategy or implementation could translate to wasted team efforts and harm the value of your site to your customers.

When the demand graph reaches a plateau or falls, that doesn’t always indicate the need for a radical strategy overhaul. Sometimes all you need is to listen to your users more.  

Hence priorities through the product lifecycle should be empathizing with customers and knowing their needs through surveys, feedback, and other UX insights. 

Alternative Product Management Lifecycle Model

There’s an alternative way to breaking down the product management lifecycle process by using it as a springboard to help in ideation and responsiveness to the user. This iterative, agile PM lifecycle model facilitates a collaborative, adaptive approach to developing quick, creative product solutions. 

The main product management lifecycle stages include:

Stage 1 – Ideation

Idea generation and management is the beginning step in the product management lifecycle. Effective cross-collaboration of the product team with engineering, marketing, analytics, and design teams can bring new ideas to the forefront, share them and validate them. The goal is to generate new product ideas, define a plan for each idea and assess whether it’s worth pursuing. 

Stage 2 – Research and Development

Market research and business analytics are the most critical steps in the product management lifecycle. Identify your target markets and test your idea with potential customers so that you have a great chance of a successful product launch. 

Present your idea to target customers and get qualitative and quantitative feedback on essential questions like how the product can be improved, what changes would have the biggest impact, and others. 

The UX insights thus gathered should be fed into your product roadmap and will help you prioritize the product backlog, finalize the right price point, and repeat toward a minimum viable product (MVP). 

Stage 3 – Launch

An agile product management lifecycle process requires early market entry to get and respond to user feedback as quickly as possible. At the time of launch, the product must be the basic offering that is targeted at early adopters. 

If your product is more than a basic offering at launch, your development phase would be too lengthy and expensive, and there’ll be too many focus areas for feedback. Instead, prioritize development based on features that address user requirements identified during the research phase.  

The minimum viable product should be basic yet functional, explicitly developed for the potential user, and possess essential features to solve user problems. 

Stage 4 – Feedback, Learn, and Respond

Now that the MVP is launched, utilize ongoing user feedback to update decision-making and continually reshape the product for the user. 

Use quantitative data to support your UX insights to better understand your target users, detect bugs, or unearth wasted opportunities, like any feature that users want or one they find useless. 

Include pop-up surveys at certain points in the customer journey (for instance, ask questions like “Did you find what you were looking for?” and “Name one thing missing from this page”). You could use user behavior analytics tools to watch how visitors use your site. 

The product management team should constantly seek to improve the product with research and responsiveness through an ongoing feedback loop such that the product evolves with your customer. 

Why Use a Product Management Lifecycle Approach?

The product management lifecycle system provides a framework to manage all aspects of a product’s lifecycle.  The system brings several obvious benefits to product companies. Here are some of them:

1) When you break down the PM lifecycle into iterative stages, it becomes easier to focus and better utilize your resources.

2) The PM lifecycle helps prioritize the most important work for each stage of the project. 

3) Product management lifecycle software ensures none of the critical steps of product management are missing.

4) A clear understanding of the product lifecycle can make product forecasting, planning, and estimation more realistic and successful.

5) Product teams can plan their marketing activities more successfully. 

6) Enables better communication between various departments to improve collaboration while working through the various product lifecycle phases. 

7) Product planning for the future becomes more manageable. 

8) Understanding the product lifecycle gives product managers a clear idea of how other products fit into the overall product plan. When one product is nearing its end, another product should be in the pipeline, ready to take its place and maintain the revenue.  

Product Management Lifecycle: Stages Involved

The product management lifecycle encompasses all aspects of product development, marketing, and sales – with product managers guiding the product through every stage.   

Although the product management lifecycle may vary from company to company, here are seven stages that are more or less commonly found in most of them.

1. Idea Generation and Management

The first step in the product management lifecycle – idea generation aims to generate new ideas for products or services to be offered by an organization. You should have a well-defined plan for each idea and assess whether the initiative is worth pursuing. 

After creating an idea and planning a course of action, select the main personas and user stories for the product. Thus, you’ll understand what you’re making, and you’ll be able to create a better product overall. 

2. Research and Analytics

Market research and business analytics are the crucial steps in the product management life cycle. Identify your target users and get a clear understanding of their needs and requirements. Validate user personas and user stories so that you can create a product that people want.

Do user research and gain insight into customer experience so that you can work on constant product improvement.  

Analyze how target users will react to your product before investing too much time and resources. You can use tools like Google Analytics to understand what happens when visitors visit your website. Use this information to optimize the product management life cycle. 

3. Planning

The planning stage involves turning ideas into feature development and identifying the priorities and main features of the product. Set up regular meetings with various departments to discuss how product features impact other aspects of the organization. 

Defining business goals for particular products also forms part of the Planning stage. Defining the goals, identifying key product features, and outlining a plan for when objectives will be met are all part of a project manager’s duty.  

4. Prototyping

This is a crucial step where you’ll create a mockup of your product, test it, and obtain feedback before finalizing it. Prototyping aims to have a model that reflects the final product and can be used to test with users. 

5. Validation

This step includes validating the product idea and understanding if it is worth pursuing. A way to test your assumptions can be by gathering customer feedback and reviewing your product plan. Gather feedback via interviews, surveys, and online communities. Identify a problem your target users face so you can develop an innovative solution and enable higher customer engagement. 

6. Delivery

The second to last step in the product management lifecycle, delivery, is the point where all groundwork is laid to ensure a successful product feature release. 

This is followed by testing and refining the product until it satisfies desired quality standards. Finally, the product is delivered to customers that have already purchased or plan to purchase the product. 

7. Launch

Product launches are significant but not the end of the product management lifecycle. Understanding how to market your product once it’s out on the shelves is imperative. 

Decide if you want to launch the product in beta or wait until you’re confident of its success. Next, identify your target audience and how you can reach them. Get your message out there and make sure prospective customers get it. 

Prepare for valuable customer feedback. Try to fix any issues voiced by customers and include those solutions in the final released product. But you must also be careful to get caught up in negative responses. 

The Role of a Product Manager in Product Management Lifecycle

As a product manager, your role is to guide a product through its entire lifecycle – from ideation to launch. This involves a lot of moving pieces, so you need to be able to wear many hats.

You’ll be responsible for conducting research and gathering data to inform your decisions and then using that information to create a solid plan for the product. You’ll work closely with designers and developers to bring the product to life and then validate it to ensure it meets your customers’ needs.

Once the product is ready to go, you’ll take the lead on marketing and sales efforts to make sure it reaches the right audience and achieves success. And throughout all of this, you’ll constantly be monitoring the product’s performance and making tweaks as needed to keep it on track.

So, as you can see, a product manager is the captain of the ship, steering it through all the ups and downs of the product management lifecycle. It’s a challenging but rewarding role that requires a unique blend of technical, creative, and strategic skills.

Master the Skills for a Successful Product Management Career

Effective product management is a complex process and requires a competent and skilled professional to be at the helm. Top companies recognize this and therefore, hire their product managers with a lot of consideration and high salaries in mind.

If you’re aspiring to become a top talent in this field, a comprehensive product management bootcamp like the one offered by the University of Minnesota can be an invaluable resource to gain the knowledge, skills, and tools you need to succeed in this exciting and fast-paced field. 

The six-month program will cover all the key elements of product management, from understanding the customer journey to developing a product roadmap. You’ll learn about market research, product design, and go-to-market strategies, as well as get hands-on experience with real-world projects. By the end of the program, you will be able to put what you’ve learned into practice and earn professional certification that will help you grow into your future role as a product manager. Enroll to get started now! 

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