Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a high-level business process that captures a product’s lifetime, from conception and design to product launch through maturity and eventual cancellation. Although we usually think of product lifecycle as an engineering and manufacturing discipline, similar business processes occur in other industries, such as financial services.

Benefits of Product Lifecycle Management

Like Business Process Management in general, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is principally a management discipline. The main benefits of Product Lifecycle Management affect the time, cost, and quality of product development, such as:

  • Reduced time to market
  • Reduced product development costs
  • Improved product quality
  • Improved forecasting and resource planning

A company’s ability to realize these and other benefits determines how effectively it can launch new products and what proportion of its revenue they will deliver.

Challenges

Each phase in a product lifecycle consists of a business process that typically spans long periods of time and the full breadth of the org chart. Such a broad scope brings inevitable management challenges.

Deploying a product launch workflow solution

A business process that takes a product from an initial proposal to launch includes a number of steps. These tasks and sub-processes include:

  • Using standard forms to capture details of initial product proposals
  • Collecting feedback from multiple departments as part of a feasibility study
  • Notifying involved stakeholders of key product development milestones
  • Focusing development on a key go/no-go decision milestone
  • Incorporating a streamlined handover to other departments on product launch

After the product launch, the product development team hands over to the ongoing product support process that directly serves their customers. Meanwhile, the product development team has an overview of all ongoing product development ‘cases.’

Signavio Workflow standardizes how product information is collected and shared and provides a complete product development history that shows who made each key decision and when. This results in a faster and more reliable process than the earlier approach, which collected information in spreadsheets and shared it with product stakeholders by sending spreadsheets in an email.

Conclusion

Product lifecycle management is a natural fit for business process management techniques and tools. Workflow automation, in particular, can help large organizations keep track of product lifecycle processes that take months or even years, and enable competitive advantages by improving product development.