5 Things You Need to Know About Product Lifecycle Management

Guest post 11.6.2024. Reading Time: 6 minutes

Internationally-acclaimed musical The Lion King famously talks about the ‘circle of life’. That might seem like the furthest-removed concept from the business world, but in truth, a very similar circle governs the rise and fall of products. This is called the product lifecycle.

But how can you stay on top of product lifecycle management, and why is that important in the first place?

The following five sub-topics will help you become an expert in the world of product lifecycle management, even if this is the first time you’ve heard of the concept. Let’s start with the most basic, and most essential, question.

What is Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)?

First, the term ‘product lifecycle’ covers the entire process of conceptualizing, designing, marketing, selling, and retiring a specific item. For example, if you sell shoes, your product lifecycle begins when you think of a new type of shoe to put on the market and ends when you stop selling that shoe.

Product lifecycle management, or PLM for short, is the act of overseeing and directing this cycle.

PLM necessarily involves working with data. You need to know which products are performing well, with whom, and why before you can start adjusting your product lifecycles, after all.

It also involves collaborating with multiple departments to create optimal products, and to time their releases and retirements just right.

Why Do Companies Need PLM?

There’s no denying that PLM is an involved process that takes a lot of time and effort. So is it worth it?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is split into a few key reasons why PLM is vital to modern companies, as detailed below.

Connecting with Audiences on an Ongoing Basis

In order to secure operational continuity, companies must always keep appealing to their audiences, or they risk losing their customer base.

While it’s possible to do this without ever changing your product lineup, excellent PLM will help you connect continuously with your fans. That’s because PLM lets you keep cycling valuable products, ensuring your customers pay attention and stay loyal as you venture into new territories.

Product Lifecycle Management
Free to use image sourced from Pexels

Effectively Managing Business Finances

Pumping money into products that are no longer performing like they used to is unlikely to leave you with much room in your budget for key tools like a dedicated omnichannel contact center solution. With PLM, you can avoid this scenario.

Product lifecycle management is all about knowing when to retire products, just as much as finding the right time to launch new ones. By perfecting these timings, you can ensure every cent you spend on your products always returns to you in spades.

Optimizing Company Efforts (And Brand Reputation)

Nobody likes a brand that keeps pushing irrelevant products. By contrast, customers flock to companies that always have a finger on the pulse of what buyers want.

With PLM, you can guarantee that your teams only put their efforts towards projects that really matter. This helps you remain productive, while also showing your customers that you’re paying attention to their wants and adjusting your approach accordingly.

What Benefits Come With PLM?

Aside from the above reasons why product lifecycle management is a must, there are also plenty of advantages that come with implementing it. These act as a great incentive to start setting up your own PLM processes and are a further crucial thing to know about PLM.

Here are some of the most prominent benefits.

Reduced Costs

When you become really proficient at forecasting supply chain management, you’ll be able to save money by ordering exactly what you need, when you need it, and only that.

Product lifecycle management lets you do exactly this.

It also ensures that you’ll be able to accurately predict when your products will need to retire and to adjust your supply chain management accordingly. This lets you further save on operational costs while maximizing profit, which creates more room in your budget.

Creating Better Products

When each of your products is properly optimized for its estimated lifecycle, their overall quality will go up. This is because your product designers will know exactly what every item needs to do, and for how long, which lets them focus on how to create precisely the right sort of product.

For example, let’s say you’re a software company looking to create a new productivity app. Your product lifecycle management experts let you know it’s going to be in circulation for three years before being phased out in favor of a newer model. Now, your designers know what’s expected of their new app–and what falls outside their scope. They can design accordingly.

Shorter Time-To-Market

Getting products released at the right time is vital to their commercial success. For example, if everyone’s using AI in their software while your company is still stuck asking questions like ‘what are machine learning models’, you’re unlikely to stay ahead of the curve.

This is why short-time-to-market values are so important.

With good product lifecycle management, you’ll be able to go from conceptualizing to releasing a product in record time. This helps you stay on top of trends and keep in touch with what matters to customers at any given time.

Which Stages Does PLM Consist Of?

Product lifecycle management moves in stages, to match the lifecycles of the products themselves. It’s important to understand each of these stages so you can plan your PLM accordingly.

plm product lifecycle management

Creation and Idea Development

A product’s lifecycle begins when the original idea for it first comes into being. You’ll generally begin with a rough idea, which you can then develop and hone into something actionable.

At this early stage, PLM can be used to help deliberately shape audience’s perception of each product. For example, you might adjust a Valentine’s Day-themed product to seem more romantic, sweet, or lovable so it properly connects with its intended audience.

Production and Introduction

Once your idea has solidified, it’s time to take it to production and get your audience familiar with it.

PLM plays a pivotal role in coordinating with fulfillment services to ensure that the right amount of each product is created and delivered to meet customer demand. It would also include working with the marketing department to ensure that the right people are seeing advertisements in the right quantities, so you’re never faced with stockouts or dead stock.


This fast-paced step in the product lifecycle relies on getting your product in front of more eyes, and on subsequently securing more buyers. With the growing dominance of e-commerce business, optimizing online visibility and conversion rates becomes paramount.

You’ll want to use product lifecycle management here to guarantee that your product’s reach and appeal continue to grow. The goal is to entice more leads into becoming customers, so you’ll need to work closely with the sales and marketing departments alike.


The most profitable stage of the product lifecycle, maturity is when your products have reached their peak. At this point, more sales should be coming in with less effort on your end, and products should be metaphorically flying off the shelves.

PLM is needed here. You’ve got to keep a sharp eye on sales to identify the tipping point when the product’s popularity stops climbing, and the key moment when it starts shifting to the final stage.

Decline (and Retirement)

Lastly, your product will stop being as popular as it once was as its appeal starts to decline. This can be a very gradual process, though it might also happen quite suddenly and all at once. Regardless of how it comes about, the decline means retirement is around the corner.

With great PLM and accurate demand forecasting, you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact optimal time of retirement for each product. This lets you avoid having dead stock or needing to wait around for those final copies to sell.

What are the Best Practices for PLM?

Lastly, we’ll cover the most important best practices you need to know about if you’re going to start implementing product lifecycle management in your own company.

Use the Right Tools

As with any important business process, you need to know which tools will help you get the job done as efficiently as possible. From apps for productivity to data processing software, you’ll want to be sure you’re implementing tools that will support and enhance the PLM work you’re doing.

You’ll also find keyword research tools invaluable for optimizing your product’s online visibility and tailoring your marketing efforts to target specific audience segments effectively.

Pay Close Attention to Pricing

Over or under-pricing your products can severely impact their lifecycles, which in turn complicates the matter of managing those lifecycles. You’ve got to be sure you’re never selling yourself short or overcharging your customers so that you can focus on producing and selling products in ways that work for both you and the people buying them.

Implementing pricing transparency practices can foster trust with your customers and ensure fair value exchange throughout the entire product lifecycle.

Rely on Fresh Data

Anyone familiar with data quality best practices can tell you that fresh, recent data is the only kind of information worth working with. You can only expect to understand your products’ lifecycles if you’ve got up-to-date information on all of them, so be sure you’re never working with siloed or outdated data.

Final Thoughts

Almost no fully evergreen products exist in the world of modern business. That’s why you’ve got to keep a close eye on each of your products, their lifecycles, and their performance throughout those cycles.

Product lifecycle management covers all of this and more.

With good PLM, you can ensure your business works more optimally, saves money, and gets more products sold. That’s why you need a PLM. And with the five key things to know about PLM that we’ve covered above, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to start effectively managing your product lifecycles.

Pohan Lin


Pohan Lin
Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider connecting the features of data warehouses and data lakes to create lakehouse architecture. With over 18 years of experience in web marketing, online SaaS business, and ecommerce growth. Pohan is passionate about innovation and is dedicated to communicating the significant impact data has in marketing. Pohan has written for other domains such as VWO and Transifex. Here is his LinkedIn.