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After seeing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” I left the cinema feeling a little sad. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have been a part of my life for 10 years! I felt a little like I do when I finish a great novel – is it really over? What do I do now?
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a bit like choosing, reading, and finishing a great book or a superior movie series. Of course, the end is exactly where PLM comes in as an important step in the NPD process. Rather than feeling empty and wondering what to read next, roadmaps and PLM direct New Product Development Professionals (NPDPs) to the next new product development (NPD) effort.
Platform products are especially well served by roadmapping and PLM. The product manager and NPD team work to understand, in advance, which features to add and enhance throughout the lifecycle of the product. The roadmap gives a clear time frame for each new product launch within the platform.
Intel has perfected launching products within a platform. Microprocessor chips were first built on the X86 platform. Twenty years ago, we had “286 computers”. Then, on a regular schedule (about every two years), we upgraded to the 386 computer, the 486 computer, and finally the Pentium. (I guess they figured we knew it was a “586”!) The Pentium brought the end of the X86 platform as Intel then moved to innovation and production of dual core processing chips.
As part of the lifecycle management process, the product innovation team has to also consider retiring and obsolescence of the “old” products. For durable goods, it is important for the firm to consider a spare parts and service maintenance plan for the outdated models, yet still train and adapt the technical and customer service staff to the newest platform products.
At some point, it will no longer be cost effective or efficient for brand leveraging to continue to manufacture spare parts for an obsolete product line. I think we are all familiar with going to the junk yard to get a spare part for an old car when we can no longer purchase it from the dealer.
Product lifecycle management allows the product manager and the firm to gracefully plan an exit for the product and platform while notifying the market and customers of the company’s newest and best products available for sale today.
Of course, I know that the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins would end and I knew that I had bought a ticket to the last Harry Potter movie. Even though, as a consumer, I know these products have completed their life cycle, I also know that a new product (or source of entertainment) will fill these gaps in the retail marketplace.
Consider your current slate of product offerings in light of Product Lifecycle Management. Are there product that should be retired (low sales, high production cost, declining profits)? And consider your current platforms – are there product line that should have increased planning by using a roadmap to lay out scheduled enhancements, improvements, and steps toward eventually retiring the platform?
For more information on product platforms and product lifecycle management, contact Global NP Solutions at email@example.com or at 281-280-8717.
Image of Harry Potter movie poster courtesy of Flickr.
Image of Left Behind book cover courtesy of leftbehind.com.
© 2011 Global NP Solutions, LLC
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