Electronic Product Life Cycle Management Avoids Unpredicted Application Results

May 16, 2018 Altium Designer

 Graph of the product life cycle

 

Everyone has a smartphone these days. Well, everyone except my grandparents. They still use clamshell phones and perfectly happy with them. The rest of us have moved on to leaner and meaner communication devices. Eventually, the product life cycle for clamshell phones will end and they will be relegated to the history books.

 

A look back through the history of technology reveals that no piece of technology can thrive forever. Project life cycle management involves adapting your manufacturing, marketing, and development activities as the market for your product changes over time. The ultimate goal is to make sure that you are able to meet demand for your product throughout the life cycle and see the largest return on investment as possible.

Product Development and Funding

All product life cycles begin with designing and developing your product. The goal is to prepare your for manufacturing and broad release to the market. Hardware startups rarely receive funding for manufacturing and marketing based on functional prototypes, and you will need to get past the beta testing stage before serious investors will help you move to the manufacturing and marketing stage.

 

Planning and budgeting your transition to manufacturing, marketing, and distribution ensures that you can capitalize on growth and adoption without delaying delivery of your product to your customers. Building relationships with your manufacturer and distributor is crucial at this stage. Your investors want to see that you have properly planned how you intend to use their money. All of these activities will help you capitalize on demand for your product and grow your customer base.

The Growth Stage

The initial stage of customer growth means you will see more orders for your product. As your order volume increases, manufacturing costs will reduce. New products may require new equipment and manufacturing processes. This means costs are high for new products, especially since your sales volume will be low.

 

Costs will start to fall as you increase your order volume to sustain your growing market. Manufacturers and assemblers can become more efficient during the life cycle, and this brings down costs even further. During this cycle, you may have the opportunity to reduce the price for your product. Bringing down the price can encourage customers that were on the fence to try out your product and give you a leg up on new competitors.

 

Rolled dollars and euros on a PCB)

Watch your hardware costs reduce during the growth stage

 

As the market for your product matures and your product is adopted by a wider audience, your customers’ tastes may change, and new products will appear that threaten your market share. Marketing strategies and the marketing message need to be adjusted to continue to increase adoption of your product and maintain momentum. Your marketing message during this later stage will likely look very different from your message during launch.

Sustaining the Market After Growth Peaks

Technology eventually reaches a state where use is at its peak. The market for your product will change over time, and you will need to stay connected with your customers in order to maintain demand over time. Eventually, competitors and imitators will try to exploit your customer base after you have developed a market for your product. This can take from your market share and will force you innovate new versions of your product and even expand into new markets.

 

Information is crucial to the success of any product. Developing effective methods for gathering information on your target market and your competitors can help sustain demand for your product after introduction and adoption by the market. Companies that efficiently manage their products throughout the life cycle curve are usually those that have developed the most effective information systems.

 

Line graph and bar chart

Keep the life cycle moving with the right data

 

Data about potential new markets can help you sustain demand for your product into the future. Feedback about different marketing campaigns, new use cases for your product, and monitoring the growth and decline of your product can help you phase out the old version and usher a new and improved model. As old components become obsolete, suppliers ramp down production and you will be forced to update your product design.

 

A great piece of PCB layout software like Altium Designer makes it easy to design and upgrade your electronics product. The integrated component libraries and ActiveBOM tool help you manage obsolete parts and introduce new versions of your product to the market.

To learn more about product management and learn more about how Altium Designer can help you manage your electronics, talk to an Altium expert today.

About the Author

Altium Designer

PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.

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