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Improving Product Lifecycle Management

Get Better Products to Market Faster, Using Fewer Resources

Fully successful products result from teamwork among all functional groups within a company, including Marketing, Product Development, Operations, Sales and Finance.  Achieving this teamwork requires an integrated approach to product lifecycle management. 


Unfortunately, products at many organizations fail to achieve their potential.  Often, a product management function has responsibility for “cradle to grave” management, but the function is ineffective because it is not properly empowered, the appropriate processes are not in place, or the managers lack the skill sets and understanding of the activities that must be undertaken.   In other cases, the product managers are using a product lifecycle management process has not evolved with changing business conditions, so they may be doing the wrong job well.


This course provides the framework, tools and techniques for improving product management organization within an organization.  It addresses all elements of successful product management, from the organizational context to specific processes and deliverables that have been proven to work at each stage of the product lifecycle in a variety of companies, and tips for adopting them within the unique culture and existing processes at each company.




Key issues that this course addresses include:

         What should be expected of the product management function?

         How can an organization use quantified decision rules to drive activities, optimize tradeoffs and ensure all functional departments are acting consistently?

         What is the “fuzzy front end” and how can it be managed to gain faster time-to-market?

         How to generate specifications that reflect what the customer really wants?

         How is the whole product different than the core product and why is it important?

         What should be the responsibilities of Product Management and which should remain with the Functional Departments?

         How to select metrics and control systems that will lead to desired outcomes.

         How to manage risk and uncertainty without stifling growth.





This course is intended for organizations that have an existing product management function in place and that feel a need to make improvements.  These include:

         Companies or departments who have implemented a product management function recently and want to take it to the next stage

         Companies who have a mature product management function in place and desire a refresher

         Companies who have recently undergone a structural change in their business model or other significant change and who need to retool product management

         Companies who have recently expanded their product management organizations and want to educate the new employees  


This course complements ”Implementing the Product Management Function", which targets organizations that are looking to implement a product management function for the first time.



Note: The outline below includes the full breadth of material available.  The relative emphasis on each section will depend on the needs of the particular company and the time available for the course.  In addition, the material can be tailored to high-level management desiring an overview, to new product managers needing basic training in the function or to experienced product managers wanting to enhance their skills.


There are several group and individual exercises that reinforce the material and enable the participant to adopt it to his/her particular situation.  These result in action plans that can be implemented immediately after the course. 



     Objectives and overview of the course

  • Expectations
  • Overview of the Product Lifecycle Process
  • The role of product management
  • How Product Management differs from complementary and potentially overlapping functions


Product-level economic analysis establishes the foundation for making sound business decisions throughout the product lifecycle.  Topics covered include:

     Quantifying tradeoffs among key product objectives (Product cost, product attributes, time-to-market and development expense) 

  • Methodically estimating the value of cycle time on a new product
  • Developing tradeoff rules to guide decision making
  • Incorporating these tools into existing business processes




Idea Generation/Screening

Managing the “Fuzzy Front End”

The “Fuzzy Front End”, the time that elapses between the time a company could be working on a new product and the time it actually starts the development process, is often longer than the development process itself.  Managing this “predevelopment” time can enable products to result in products coming to market months earlier with significantly less stress on the development team and lower cost for expediting and rush charges. 

         Practical approaches for short-cutting the predevelopment process

         A methodology for capturing and screening new ideas

Portfolio Management

         Balancing the product portfolio to achieve organizational objectives


Product/Service Definition

Incremental Innovation

         Avoiding the megaproject trap

         The non-linear relationship between scope and schedule

         The hidden benefits of incremental innovation

         When incremental innovation will not work

Developing Product Specifications

         The importance of market segmentation in addressing market needs and avoiding the doomed project

         Methods for segmenting the market

         Tools for understanding the customer

         Identifying the real customer need

         Creating a specification that properly guides the development process

         Using (and avoiding misusing) the specification during development

Designing the Whole Product

         Understanding the whole product concept

         Elements of the whole product

         Defining a whole product that meets customer needs

         Using application economic analysis to make whole product design tradeoffs


Product/Service Development

Understanding process queues

  • Applying queuing theory to product development
  • Analyzing the economics of process development queues
  • Setting the right level of capacity and justifying it economically
  • Evaluating other options for reducing queues

Generating Information Efficiently

  • Viewing development as an information generation process
  • Improving process design to produce information earlier
  • Embracing failures as an important learning tool

Designing the Process

  • Tailoring development processes to projects
  • The common “Staged Gate” Process
    • Advantages and disadvantages
    • Process designs that mitigate the disadvantages
  • Changing the way shared resources are measured
  • Evaluating opportunities for overlap in development processes

Using Product Architecture

  • Fitting architecture to economics
  • Partitioning systems to optimize risk management, increase market coverage and reduce support costs.
  • Identifying leverage points for managing architecture
  • The role of product management in architecture decisions


The Product Management/Marketing Launch Process

  • Key activities and deliverables
  • Forecasting
  • Pricing strategies
  • The internal launch: important steps to cover before and during the external launch
  • Getting the product to customers

The Transfer from Development to Operations

  • Achieving early Operations involvement
  • Approaches to managing the transition 


  • Ongoing forecasting
  • Product enhancements
  • Cost reductions
  • Pricing actions
  • Sustaining engineering and support


      Managing product obsolescence and transitions

  • Using Economic Analysis to guide the obsolescence decisions
  • Methods for gracefully retiring products


Organizational Considerations

  • Evaluating strengths of various organizational forms
  • Establishing clear responsibilities in a matrix organization
  • Exploiting the power of co-location and partial collocation
  • Choosing and enlisting team members
  • Effectively managing part-time team members 

Selecting Metrics

  • Determining the correct metrics for a specific project
  • Avoiding unnecessary overhead
  • Identify leading indicators of future problems
  • Decentralize control with decision rules

Managing Uncertainty and Risk

  • The difference between risk minimization and risk management
  • Differentiating between technical and market risk
  • Tools to manage these risks, primarily the market risk
  • The importance of differentiating between bad decisions and bad outcomes 




Marketing, Product and Product Lifecycle Management
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