Product Life Cycle

In its simplest form, the product life cycle consists of three phases:

  • Develop the product

  • Operate the product

  • Decommission the product

  • Oviously this simplistic model leaves a number of questions about changes, procedures, etc. Complete view of the product life cycle are.

    Product Initiation Phase

    In the Initiation Phase, Product Management, Engineering, or Operations submits a request for a new service or modification to an existing service. These requests are received and prioritized by the Program Management Office (PMO). Once prioritized, the requests are reviewed by various management teams to assess the impact and viability of the request in the context of business needs and the organization's strategy. If approved, the request is given necessary funding and resources in order to proceed to the Feasibility Phase.

    Feasibility Phase

    The Feasibility Phase is where an idea is explored in more depth in order to determine the feasibility of engineering the requested service within the scope of the business needs. The request that has been approved during the initiation phase by the Governing Committee is evaluated at the engineering and product management level. From an engineering perspective, the service is evaluated for technical feasibility. The preliminary Technical Service Description outlines the general architecture of the proposed service. The Feasibility Analysis and stable Business Case are also developed during this phase. These documents summarize time and cost estimates and other investment information necessary for deciding whether to continue the product development process or not.

    Design and Plan Phase

    In the Design & Plan Phase, the cross-functional team documents all detail pertaining to the development of the service. While core documents, such as the Marketing Service Description, Technical Service Description, and Design Specifications, are stabilized, other groups, including Operations, QA, and Customer Care begin to specify their requirements for supporting the service. All of these documents are approved and signed off by the project team and the Design & Plan Checklist is presented to the Governing Committee for final approval before moving into the Development Phase.

    Development Phase

    In the Development Phase, the actual engineering of the service is completed. As the service is being developed, other functional groups continue preparatory work for the Testing and Introduction Phases. Much of the documentation to support Customer Care, Training, Vendors, and Clients is created during this phase. Also, the Quality Assurance Group prepares for the testing handoff by documenting Test Plans and Test Specifications and configuring the test environment.

    In this phase, a decision gate ensures that all pieces required for testing have been completed. The following are requirements to pass through the decision gate:

  • Ready for Testing Phase from a System Integration Test perspective

  • Documentation Complete

  • Test Environment Complete

  • Code Complete

  • Vendor Requirements met

  • Integration Testing & Results Complete

  • Once the Project Team has approved the readiness of the service, the Development Checklist is compiled and presented to the Governing Committee for approval to move the service into the Testing Phase.

    Testing Phase

    The majority of the Testing Phase is spent certifying the hardware and software changes involved in the service. The service will undergo a number of readiness tests in a Lab Environment. Operations also perform necessary system and network tests to ensure operational readiness prior to deployment. Once QA Test Results and Operations Readiness Test Results are completed, the service may under go field trials as directed by product management. The Testing Phase Decision Gate is based on the QA Test Results, Operations Test Results, Field Verification, Change Requests, and Business Needs. A 'go' decision at the gate authorizes the launch of the service.

    Product Launch Phase

    The Product Launch Phase coordinates the deployment of the new or modified service. As the service is enabled by Operations, the supporting organizations initiate support processes to maintain the service. Once deployed a service check is made by the Project Team and Program Management Organization to ensure that the Service is available. If the service is found to be unsuccessful, a predetermined un-launch process will be executed. If the service is launched without incident, the Project Team then evaluates the stability of the release and the service is transitioned to the Life Cycle Management Process.

    Operation Phase

    The Operation Phase is typically the longest of the phases since once a product is developed, it may be operated for quite some time before it is updated or decommissioned. The operation phase requires an organization that can manage the product, track problems and bugs, and respond to customer issues regarding the product in a timely and cost effective manner. A multi-tiered product support model is used to ensure that products are operated in a way that leads to RASM (reliability, availability, security, and manageability).

    Decommissioning Phase

    The Decommissioning Phase occurs at the end of the product life cycle. While it may seem like the decommissioning phase is something that can be safely ignored since there will likely be larger problems if the product is decommissioned, the truth is that many products are taken out of service. Even when a company is in bankruptcy, the rational, orderly closing down of a product or service is important to managing the company's assets.

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