Are you looking to take an idea from concept to final product? Then check out our guide to the product development life cycle.
We’ve all been there. When you’re invested in a project, it’s hard not to grow attached.
And as with anything else you’re invested in, you want to have a strong plan for the future of your product. There’s a lot of ways to go about setting a good plan. Chief among them is setting a product development life cycle.
A product life cycle is a good way of visualizing the steps involved in the production process. It helps us chart our progress, and provides a game plan for the future steps of the process.
Still, it’s not as easy as simply laying out a few steps. A good development cycle requires a lot of thought to be put into it. They take a lot of work, but done well, a good life cycle can make the development process much easier.
How do we go about creating an effective life cycle model for our project? Read on, and we’ll discuss some of the ways professionals go about the process.
What is a Product Development Life Cycle?
We’ve already gone over the basics of what defines a product life cycle, but before we talk about how to use one, let’s talk a little more about what they are.
A product life cycle can be thought of as a detailed checklist. It involves separating the various steps of development into larger, distinct categories. These categories are grouped together, usually by when they occur in the process and the kind of work that they involve.
These kinds of models are extremely useful in product development. They help keep the process on track, and allow for resources to be better allocated when and where they are needed.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. The life cycle model is used by professionals in a wide range of industries, and for good reason. It’s a highly effective tool in product development.
How to Develop a Product Life Cycle?
Designing a life cycle model isn’t as simple as just making a checklist of the steps involved in developing your product. You have to think about what the different steps in your development process are, and how they relate to one another.
Most life cycle models follow a general outline. The first step, the conception or pre-production stage, involves the initial process of defining the product. What is the ultimate goal of the product? What problems may arise in development? And how can they be prepared for?
This is followed by a planning stage, where outlines are made for the actual development process, taking the potential pitfalls and design goals of the conception stage into account. This is followed up by the actual development stage. This stage is the most straightforward, but also the lengthiest. Paradoxically, it’s also the most difficult.
While the actual concept of the development phase is straightforward, this is the part of the process that is the hardest to define ahead of time. While the conception and planning phases are meant to predict potential problems during development, it is impossible to plan for every possible issue that may arise.
This is where the fourth phase comes in; the iterative, or testing, phase. In this stage of the process, we actually begin using our product. We put it in the hands of testers, who give us feedback on its quality. This phase is excellent for helping spot problems that might have gone unseen.
The final process is the launch phase. This phase involves the final preparations, including branding and advertising. This is a crucial phase, as proper branding and product labeling is vital to the success of any product.
Why Is the Life Cycle Model So Useful?
The product life cycle is a commonly used model in a variety of different industries. It has nearly universal applications, regardless of the nature of the product being developed.
It serves as a checklist, or outline, for the basic points of the development process. It helps ensure that things are kept on track and provides a guideline for design. It also helps prevent unexpected issues during development, as it inherently involves thinking ahead early on to plan for the later stages of design.
While it provides a solid foundation to plan on, the life cycle model is also useful because of its flexibility. Unlike other models, the life cycle is not set in stone. It is defined largely by being a set of predictions made early on in the development process.
By grouping stages of design by their requirements and general placement in the process, rather than in a set order of operations, it allows for an amount of flexibility that other planning models might not easily allow.
Finally, it also helps take the complexities of product design and development and boils them down into a relatively simple metaphor for the larger process. Product design is a complicated and multifaceted endeavor, and anything that can be done to make it easier to digest is helpful.
Use the Life Cycle Model In Your Projects
There are as many models for product design and planning as there are products being designed. And in the complex world of product development, solid planning is vital to the process.
A solid outline helps to streamline the planning process. It allows you to define your goals from the earliest stages of development, and in doing so helps you predict and prepare for various potential problems during the process.
The life cycle model, in particular, is a popular model, and has been adopted by designers and executives throughout the commercial world. It’s simple, intuitive, and effective.
So the next time you find yourselves in the early stages of design, make sure to set up a product development life cycle. It’s a simple model, and as you use it you’ll find your decision making and design planning is faster and more efficient than ever before.