Product Lifecycle Management: What is it & How Can it be Leveraged for Business?
What is a product life cycle?
Everything has a usable lifespan, including and especially IT technology. Knowing when a product no longer can serve its intended purpose is extremely valuable for any business. Hardware and software are similar to cars – their value depreciates immediately after driving them off the lot (or, in this case, deploying them). Just like with cars, a product’s lifecycle can be extended through ongoing maintenance and upgrades, but this requires extreme care, knowledge and, more often than not, a dedicated employee responsible for its management.
What is product lifecycle management? (PLM)
Technology is a tool meant to equip your business with a competitive advantage. When software or hardware assets reach the end of their lifecycle, they stop supporting an organization and begin to hinder it. This is because lifecycle management is more than just product refreshes. It’s about getting ahead of the end of a product’s usefulness.
Product lifecycle management encompasses the entire product journey, spanning from concept and design through development, production, launch and support and onto retirement. It allows for support of the product’s function every step of the way.
This can involve a multitude of functions depending on a business’s current technology and future goals. Much of lifecycle management is regular monitoring to stay on top of assets. It’s important to keep tabs on all IT assets to reduce the chance of taking on unplanned costs or risks, and to make sure that your IT is strategically aligned with business needs and goals.
What is product lifecycle management software?
Utilizing a product lifecycle management software helps manage every piece of information throughout the product or service lifecycle across supply chains. This software helps organize data from change orders, items, parts, products, requirements and more, so your team is never caught off guard. By investing in this kind of software, your business can effectively and consistently prevent unnecessary spending caused by outdated products or unexpected costs.
Product lifecycle management software has become a key component in business transformation for a holistic product development and supply chain strategy. Being able to align all your PLM needs into one platform enables integrated business planning, faster innovations and improvements to the way that products are designed, manufactured, maintained, serviced and retired.
Why does lifecycle management matter?
Paying attention to IT assets is important for remaining secure and productive as a company. For example, one subset of lifecycle management is maintenance renewals. Renewals are critical to ensuring that an organization is not at risk of systems downtime or a security threat because their IT is too old. If you have an asset past the last date of support, nobody at the manufacturer will be able to provide assistance. This could mean that an IT asset vital to your company’s day-to-day operations could go down and because it is old and unsupported, you will not be able to repair it.
If you have an asset that can’t be repaired, you will have to replace it with something new – and there’s a chance that the new asset won’t integrate with the remaining older parts of your system. This is why manufacturers roll out end-of-life dates years in advance for each asset, allowing time for a company to prepare both their infrastructure and their finances. Completing a product refresh or upgrade requires careful budgeting and years of planning, especially for organizations with many employees or complex infrastructure.
By incorporating lifecycle management into your business strategy, it helps eliminate unexpected adoption of new products, unnecessary cost on licensing and training for these new products and reduces the risk of productivity loss. Overall, it helps streamline your business operations and serves as a safety net for your products.
The benefits of product lifecycle management
Each business may experience different benefits from product lifecycle management depending on their needs, goals and desired outcomes. However, there are several benefits that are consistent across the board when businesses start leveraging product lifecycle management.
Implementing product lifecycle management can lead to improvements in development, engineering and effectiveness. Leveraging automation for your product lifecycle needs reduces human error and identifies product issues earlier on in the process. This early identification leads to early solutions and reduction of further issues down the road. Overall, it helps boost efficiency across your processes and technology, leading to further financial and productivity benefits.
Product lifecycle management is an effective tool in eliminating unnecessary spend, especially when it comes to unexpected renewal fees. It also helps reduce material costs, prototype costs and wastage, helping create better savings. The ability to have reduced time to market and improved project delivery will provide indirect financial benefits, as well. Implementing product lifecycle management helps keep costs consistent, low and accounted for.
By keeping a close eye on updates, licensing agreements and global standards, you’re ensuring that your products remain in compliance. This knowledge allows your business to quickly adjust to change, efficiently manage engineering documentation and develop products that are compliant finished. By staying up to date with new product features and expectations, you’re also boosting your security posture. Updates help protect your environment from new threats and types of cyberattacks that may not have been considered in the version of software you’re currently deploying.
Trust is a major component of any business relationship, and product lifecycle management allows your business to be more reliable. Not only will the products you develop be more reliable, but the knowledge and foresight you’ll gain will allow you to make better business decisions for your business and for your customers. It also ensures that clients feel comfortable entrusting your team with their IT needs throughout the entire lifespan of the products they deploy and, hopefully, the deployment of future products.
Provide an Overall Better Client Experience
To keep clients and customers happy, it’s important to remain one step ahead of their needs. According to Oxford Economics, 70% of customers expect more customized or personalized products than they received three years ago. Additionally, 68% of customers expect products and services to be delivered more quickly, even if they’re at the same level of quality. Product lifecycle management allows businesses to maintain their competitive edge by delivering products that directly align with customer needs and the timeline that they need them.
Is a managed services provider the right option for me?
Keeping track of IT assets is important work because you reduce the chance of taking on unplanned costs and risk. However, it’s a cumbersome task and it’s not strategic. Outsourcing your lifecycle management to a managed services provider can allow your internal IT staff to focus on initiatives that drive the business. An MSP can track hardware, software and associated components, and stay on top of manufacturer contracts. Even if an asset hasn’t reached its last date of support, an MSP knows the latest technology coming to market and will be aware of new and better fits for a client. A respected provider knows what works – and what doesn’t – when navigating technology changes.
Another benefit is that reputable MSPs have great relationships with manufacturers. This is critical because a manufacturer’s obligation is to send notification of the last date of support. If an organization has turnover in their IT department or multiple people handling contract data, these important notifications can get lost in an email shuffle. An MSP will have someone in-house to manage those support contracts and maintain relationships with manufacturers so that there is never an issue with miscommunication.
Partner with a top Managed Services Provider like ivision
At ivision, a global top managed services provider, we have a dedicated team to account for everything throughout the entire product lifecycle. We ensure that your company is aware not only of end-of-life dates, but also that you are compliant with the product licensing agreements.
Our clients also benefit from iTrax, which is a free tool that offers a single portal with access to a comprehensive, searchable maintenance and renewal catalog. iTrax helps our clients take control of their IT environment by combining data from different sources (i.e. reseller and distributor data, vendor registrations, purchase orders, SKUs and more) all in one place. This comprehensive view gives you a better understanding of where your environment stands and where it can go.
Our team of engineers shares a deep knowledge of current and future technology offerings on the marketplace, as well as IT contract cycles and requirements. We align strategies with our clients’ business needs to ensure a maximum return on investment. A surprise last-minute product refresh or renewal is costly, both in terms of money and systems downtime. Our clients can trust that we are on top of their assets, so they never need to worry about losing revenue or employee productivity. To get started with ivision and gain peace of mind, contact us today.