n today’s landscape, a multitude of products are introduced to the market. Consequently, it is projected that the digital commerce market will reach USD 9.04 trillion by 2027. However not all products manage to leave a lasting impression on consumers’ minds.
The reason behind this is often their failure to meet the needs and requirements of customers. In order to achieve success in this evolving online landscape, effective management of the digital product lifecycle is crucial.
This article aims to provide you with insights into managing the lifecycle of products. By understanding the stages involved, project managers can make decisions regarding product development and marketing strategies. The ultimate goal is to ensure profitability and competitiveness.
What Does “Digital Product Lifecycle” Mean?
The term “digital product lifecycle” essentially refers to a framework that outlines the stages in the lifespan of a product – from its inception to retirement. Each stage encompasses goals and activities.
Mastering lifecycle management is paramount for ensuring the success of any product. It entails improvement and updates based on research, user feedback and market trends. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the digital product remains relevant, competitive and profitable in the term.
Why Go for Digital Product Development in 2024?
The most common reasons to develop digital products in 2024 are outlined below.
Changing User Demands
The user demands and market dynamics keep changing continuously. Today, consumers show more inclination toward digital products. So, developing such products can enable you to expand your customer base and remain profitable in the market.
In the competitive era, staying ahead of your competitors is the need of the hour. Therefore, offering digital products as per the preferences of the consumers can enable you to gain an edge and stay ahead.
Digital products allow businesses to easily tap into new streams of revenue. As the demand for innovative digital products keeps growing, you can easily boost your revenues and ensure success by introducing them in the market.
Stages of Digital Product Lifecycle
In the digital product lifecycle, every stage has unique challenges, opportunities, and characteristics. Therefore, having knowledge of such things can allow product managers to ensure the product’s success. Moreover, an idea of the best practices and potential nuances of each stage will allow the managers to make informed decisions relating to the digital product.
Ever wondered when the actual life cycle of the digital product begins? Well, it starts the moment when the product seems to be profitable and feasible enough to be developed.
However, if you want to maximize your returns and boost productivity, managing the digital product lifecycle is crucial. Let’s explore each of the stages involved in the lifecycle.
Strategy and Conceptualization
The very foundation of the digital product lifecycle is the product strategy. It is all about defining the mission, vision, and goals of the product. The product strategy allows the organizations to define the actual value they want to offer the customers through digital tools.
In this stage, businesses try to look for potential problems consumers are facing and identify gaps. Next, they engage in brainstorming to find solutions for solving the problems. It is known as conceptualization when the idea of the product is finally born.
In this phase, the product managers define the digital product’s concept and create a business plan. Besides, they carry out market research to identify opportunities, understand the competition, and get insights into the needs and preferences of the customers.
Based on this research, the managers then build a product concept stating the purpose, target audience, value proposition, and possible benefits of the digital product. They evaluate the feasibility of the product by taking a close look at the potential resource, technical, and financial constraints.
With a proper product strategy, developing the digital product becomes easy and simple. At the end of this phase, the product managers must ensure the following outcomes.
- Creation of user persona, which involves identification of needs, concerns, interests, and goals of the users.
- Competitive analysis and benchmarking to get an idea about the market trends, competitors, weaknesses, opportunities, strengths, and challenges.
- Defining value proposition to give a clear idea about the value that the digital product will offer the users and how it can meet their needs and enhance their lives.
- Product strategy creation to provide a complete picture of the business and the product along with the pricing and business model.
- Establishment of key results and objectives to focus on.
The next step in the digital product lifecycle is designing the product. It is all about developing a blueprint or prototype of the product in mind. During this phase, the product managers work with the development designers and teams to build the user experience and user interface design.
Though this may seem simple, it is essential to ensure that the design aligns well with the product strategy. Besides, the design should also be capable of meeting the needs of the target audience. The design phase basically includes designing the layout, functionality, visual elements, and navigation of the product.
When it comes to designing a digital product, it basically includes three main elements – system, process, and interface. Wondering what they are? Let’s understand each of the elements in greater detail.
Before determining the look of the digital product, product managers must come up with a plan to state its working to address the pain points of the customers. In simple terms, system design is all about developing a solution to a real problem.
During this step, you’ll have to consider the needs of the businesses and the consumers. Besides, you need to also maintain a balance between the two. The process design stage basically involves identifying the steps that the users need to take to reach the desired outcome when using the digital product.
Interface design is all about designing the visual elements of the digital product that represent its functionalities and features. It involves the color scheme, layout, buttons, icons, topography, and various other graphical elements.
The interface design has a major impact on the overall user experience of the customers. Besides, it can also influence the end users’ perception relating to the value and quality of the digital product.
By the end of the design phase, product managers should concentrate on achieving the following results:
- A working prototype
- A list of essential resources for the execution of the project
- Story sitemap
- MMP wireframes
- A clear roadmap for the development of minimum marketable product (MMP)
- Style guide for product design
In this phase, the main focus is to build the actual product based on the specifications and design determined in the previous steps. This phase plays a crucial role in analyzing whether the product is created as per the design specifications. Furthermore, it also helps ensure that the digital product is able to adhere to the specific needs of the target audience.
Most product teams leverage the agile methodology for product development. It involves breaking down the complete development process into smaller cycles known as sprints.
Each sprint lasts for two to four weeks. It includes the development of specific functionalities or features.
You must follow the steps listed below for the successful development of the digital product.
- Write correct codes for the implementation of the functionalities and features of the product.
- Test the codes to check whether they are functioning as desired or not. Moreover, testing also helps you meet the quality standards of the industry.
- Integrate the different components of the product to make sure that they work seamlessly together.
- Deploy the digital product in a specific test environment. The core objective is to ensure that the product works as expected.
- Test the digital product among a group of users. The main aim is to determine whether the product is successful in meeting the needs of the users or not. Moreover, it also tests the ease of use of the product.
- Identify potential issues and bugs that are likely to affect the overall experience of the users.
- Refine the digital product based on the feedback from stakeholders and users.
The development phase is basically an iterative process. It involves continuous testing of the digital product and making the necessary changes. The ultimate aim is to ensure that the product meets the set standards and can be launched in the target market.
Once the digital product undergoes a number of testing phases, it is now ready for launch in the market. However, when it comes to launching the product, you have two options. You can either launch all the features simultaneously or opt for a phased launch.
Are you wondering what a phased launch actually is? Well, it means you will gradually release your digital product and its unique features. The main benefit of this launch is that it provides you with an opportunity for ongoing improvement.
Some of the top strategies you can leverage for the launch of your digital product are:
The MVP is launched in a general market. A comprehensive marketing campaign is used for the promotion of the product.
It involves making the product available to the early adopters or a small group of users within the target market.
In this approach, the MVP is already launched. However, the new features of the product are quietly introduced to some users only. The main objective is to observe the response of the users towards the change.
In the launch phase of the digital product lifecycle, the product managers also have to create an advertising campaign and marketing strategy. All these will help in effectively promoting the product in the target market. Besides, a well-executed launch can build a lot of buzz about the digital product in the market and instil added interest among the users.
Consequently, you can expect greater adoption and increased sales. But keep in mind that launching the product in the market is just the beginning. The main objective of your business is to achieve growth and success over time.
The growth phase is all about the digital product gaining momentum in the market. As more users get to know about the product and its benefits, it’s likely to create more sales opportunities for the business. The growth phase marks a rise in the product’s market share and profitability.
This phase is extremely vital in the lifecycle of a digital product. That’s because the growth phase has a major role to play in determining the success of the product in the long run.
Thus, product managers should concentrate on retention, user acquisition, and monetization during this phase. Moreover, they should also optimize the digital product to effectively meet the needs of the rising user base. The ultimate aim of this phase is making your digital a market leader and enhancing its position in the target market.
You need to evolve and stay relevant to the market trends and user demands in the current highly competitive digital landscape. Hence, it is crucial to introduce new features to the digital product and keep improvising it consistently.
Businesses should use the latest technologies to keep their existing products up-to-date with the growing market. It can enable them to gain a competitive edge and stay ahead of their competitors. Moreover, it can also allow them to attract more customers and boost their overall revenues.
To modernize digital products, choosing the right approach matters a lot to ensure optimum success. Some of the top approaches you can leverage include refactoring, rehosting, or rearchitecting. Moreover, you can also consider the replacement of legacy apps with SaaS-based systems. The main focus is to improve the overall experience of the users and enhance their satisfaction levels.
Best Practices for Managing Digital Product Lifecycle
Now that you are well aware of the steps involved in the digital product lifecycle, you would be wondering how to manage it in the best way. Effective management can provide you with plenty of benefits. It includes better efficiency, smarter decision-making, enhanced user experience, and optimum compliance with industry standards.
Are you ready to avail of these benefits? If yes, here are the best practices you can leverage.
Clearly Define Your Product Strategy
The presence of any ambiguity in the product strategy can directly affect the digital product lifecycle management and success of the product. Therefore, make sure to define the product strategy as clearly as possible. Moreover, make sure that it aligns well with your customer needs, business goals, and market trends.
An ideal product strategy must include a digital product vision, plans for making maximum utilization of the market opportunities, timelines for product development, and critical requirements. List down all the goals and objectives and set priorities for better outcomes.
Review and Update the Strategy Regularly
If you keep working with the same product strategy throughout the digital product lifecycle, your business is likely to experience saturation. New technologies keep evolving every now and then. Therefore, it is crucial to stay updated.
To update your product strategy and align with the latest market trends, you must follow these steps.
- Keep track of the emerging trends, industry news, and activities of your competitors.
- Analyze the feedback of customers regularly to get an idea of the areas of improvement and potential pain points.
- Conduct market research at regular intervals to find out new opportunities and gain a better understanding of your target audience.
- Review and analyze the different product metrics like customer satisfaction, retention rates, and user engagement.
Develop a Comprehensive Project Plan
Create a project plan and include several milestones you want to achieve. Make sure to set deadlines for each of the milestones. It can help in improving your workflow efficiency and boosting the productivity of your team. Also, assign a point of contact to resolve any issues that come in the way.
Choose and Train Professionals
For successful implementation, training your professionals is at the core. Provide training on the benefits and usage of the digital product. It can help in improving the overall success rate of the product.
By now, you must have a complete idea about the digital product lifecycle. While the entire process may appear simple and easy, following a systematic approach is crucial for optimum success. The prominent stages of the digital product lifecycle include strategy and conceptualization, design, development, launch, growth, and evolution.
Are you ready to introduce a new digital product in the market? If yes, follow the steps listed in the article and ensure the optimum success of your brand.
However, if you want to manage the digital product lifecycle effectively, being well aware of the best practices is vital. Clearly define your product strategy, review and update it on a regular basis, develop a comprehensive project plan, and train your employees efficiently. It can help in bettering the digital product development process and enable your brand to stand out in the competitive era.