Product lifecycle - A practitioners Perspective
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
One of the challenges of Product Management is managing a product through the different stages of its product lifecycle. What is the challenge? The goal of each stage is very different!
Check out the video for a perspective with an example. If you would rather read that watch, a transcript with links to other relevant articles is below.
Where I learned a lot about structured product management was while working with various product leaders during my time at GetThere.
GetThere is an online travel booking tool for corporations from Sabre. It was used by a majority of the fortune 200 organisations at the time. I was leading the product team in Bangalore and also responsible for its global rail and hotel portfolios
Product Life Cycle
If you look at any product it goes through 4 stages:
The duration of each of these stages would depend on the
Specifics of your industry such as size, maturity and competition
Your own strategy and execution
focus in each stage
Depending on where your product is in the lifecycle, what you are trying to achieve would be very different.
If you are in the introduction phase, you don’t know if your product is going to be a hit or a miss. Here what you are trying to do is to validate
how valuable the problem you are solving is for the target segment,
whether your value proposition resonates with the target segment,
whether your solution is effective
In the growth phase, you are trying to drive usage of the product both within existing customers and by acquiring new customers. Adoption within existing customers is important to build customer equity. This customer equity helps when introducing new products down the line.
In these two stages, you are trying for effectiveness over efficiency.
During the maturity phase, you are trying to extend the maturity period, manage costs as best as you can and maximize profits. At this stage you are trying to maximize efficiency.
The profits generated could be invested in developing new products which has the potential to grow and give profits in the future.
During the decline phase, and every product will decline eventually, it is best to accept reality and shut it down gracefully. I have seen too many organizations trying to hold on to irrelevant products for emotional reasons!
Validate problem, demand, value proposition, and design
Customer acquisition and product adoption, build customer equity
Reduce costs, extend maturity period, develop growth initiatives to maturity
Maximize profits, migrate customers to other initiatives, “Sunset product”
But what you do want to do is make sure you have other products in the growth phase which can become mature and generate profits.
Managing multiple products at different stages
Let me now talk you through some of my experiences and learnings while I was managing rail at GetThere.
GetThere had a strong presence in the US market. It was in a mature stage there. I was responsible for handling the Amtrak product.
At the same time, GetThere’s strategy for growth was to diversify into Europe. There were 2 things we were doing there:
Work with our US customers and have their European operations adopt GetThere. This required leveraging customer equity through efforts from customer success teams.
Acquire new customers in Europe. This required investing in a new sales team in specific markets in Europe.
While we were trying to reduce our costs and extend the maturity period on the Amtrak front, we were trying to grow in Europe. On that front, we were trying to drive adoption for our offerings in the France in collaboration with SNCF, and in the BeNeLux region in collaboration with SNCB.
At the same time we were also working on launching a new offering for the UK market in collaboration with Trainline and evaluating potential offerings for Germany and Italy in collaboration with Deutsche Bahn and TrenItalia respectively.
As a product manager, it is often challenging to switch contexts across all the parallel initiatives that you are working on! Thats part of the fun! That said, I had an absolute blast working with our partner and customer teams across all these countries J
Terence Rowley, who was my contact at Amtrak even left me a glowing recommendation on LinkedIn, for my role in migrating all of GetThere’s US customers from a legacy Amtrak platform which they were sunsetting to their latest API based offering J
If you want to optimize your product strategy considering where you are in the lifecycle, lets chat!