Multiple views of product lifecycle

Multiple views of product lifecycle


One size doesn’t fit all. This is very true for engineering and manufacturing. Product lifecycle is a term that I can hear a lot these days in conversations with industrial companies of any type and size. It is a thing manufacturing companies of different sizes are comfortable with. There are many reasons for that. One which I hear a lot is the fact manufacturing is moving from product into services business. Thinking about cost, compliance and global manufacturing are also can bring you to think about overall product lifecycle more.

Product lifecycle is an attempt to look over the full scope of stages related to the business of product business – business models, sales, customer requirements, engineering, manufacturing, support, retirement, recycle. There are many variations of these phases and this is where it starts to be very interesting. Especially when it comes to the point of thinking and implementing about product lifecycle management.

So, how different is product lifecycle? Is it possible to come to a universal view of product lifecycle that can be adopted by manufacturing companies of all sizes and different industries? These are questions I asked myself when talking to different companies – large OEMs and small hardware startups. To be honest, I don’t have answers on these questions today. Maybe tomorrow… Or never… Who knows? At the same time, I wanted to share with you few examples of how people in engineering and manufacturing are thinking about lifecycle.

A very generic view of product lifecycle can be found on Wikipedia here. The good think about such example – it certainly fits all. But at the same time, it is almost useless from a practical standpoint. The best use of such diagram is to provoke a product lifecycle strategy discussion within your companies and partners.


CIMdata – a well know PLM analytical and consulting company shared an interesting perspective of circular economy and product lifecycle. This is something I found very useful for global and innovative manufacturing brands, but not only. I like this big picture – helpful for global OEMs strategically thinking about innovation and manufacturing.


Another view on a lifecycle I captured two weeks ago at Autodesk PLM360 conference in Boston. Autodesk made it part of their “Future of Making Things” presentation keynote and this is part of Autodesk Product innovation platform vision. In my view, it helps to think about many things that important for manufacturing these days – mass customization, collaboration, flexibility, cost and services.


Another view on product lifecycle is hardware startup lifecycle. The number of small manufacturing companies is growing these days. You might remember my blog last year – Why Kickstarter projects need PLM. I captured the following diagram from Upverter website and twitter stream. Upverter is software outfit developing cloud-based electronic design system. This lifecycle diagram is good because of represents an important and specific milestones of hardware project delivery.


What is my conclusion? To think about product lifecycle is absolutely important for every manufacturing company. But product lifecycle is different based on the size and type of a company and business. Product lifecycle management can give you a good strategic framework to think about your business regardless of your size. Then implementation stage come. This is where one size doesn’t fit all. What is important for hardware startup is different from small manufacturing supplier and, at the same time, different from manufacturing OEMs. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • Jags

    Good one. Well, back in 1997 UNEP (united nations environmental program) had already provided the PLM view with 3R however PLM vendors never adopted or embraced it and so did industry.

    Now with sustainability and climate change impacts being realized, everyone is redefining their model.

    I think the concept was coined “Green PLM” and there is a nice paper available at:—-End-to-End!64204

    Do download the paper and checkout the framework. A good read. I wish I could upload or attach the paper here.

  • Antti Saaksvuori


    I couldn’t agree more. Thorough product lifecycle
    understanding is one of the most important fundaments of business success. Many
    companies would be much more profitable if they would be able understand, steer
    and control their product lifecycles better, and if they would be able to make more
    informed lifecycle decisions around their products.

    In my opinion, one crucial fundament is not understood well
    enough. This is the distinction between product definition/market lifecycle and
    the lifecycle of the customer product instance / unit. These lifecycles are naturally
    interlinked but separate. Product lifecycles are also very dependent on the
    type and characteristics of the product ref. e.g. fashion clothing, software
    apps and industrial equipment.

    Having clear understanding of these lifecycles and their
    behavior makes it possible to design products for lifecycle, manage product
    portfolios much better and create new business around lifecycle extensions.
    Note. I just released a new Amazon
    Kindle article about this (Industrial services & extended products as a
    growth platform in machine manufacturing)

  • beyondplm

    Antti, thanks for your support! I agree – the overall lifecycle is something many companies are missing these days. It is life cost structure in the past. Manufacturing is moving to sell product services – it will make them think about lifecycle more. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Jags, thanks for sharing the link. I will take a look – best, Oleg