Every new product development and introduction is a project. Therefore, it is good to understand the relationship between the PMI (Project Management Institute) methodologies and the Product Development Life Cycle (PDLC). For large projects, a stage-gate process is the most effective way of managing the development and release.
The PDLC process is broken down into five main phases as shown above, with gates between each phase. After the business case is created and approved, the PMI breaks down a project into five main process groups: Initiating, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Control, and Closing. Note that each PDLC phase may have sub projects that incorporate each of the five PMI processes on their own. The image above is for total project management planning purposes.
Before a project is started, it will be in the Pipelining phase starting from an idea where a business case will be presented and approved if deemed acceptable.
Not everything is known about the product or service potential early in the project, and it is a time of discovery. During the Concept phase, initial market research is performed, high level architecture is determined, the high level scope and project success criteria are determined, a project charter is created, and stakeholders are identified. The product or service project will proceed forward upon approval of Concept Commit.
The Architecture phase is still a time of discovery to plan the project, but some of the prototyping development likely begins during this phase. This development is used to understand the product/project feasibility, determine the requirements, scope, costs, risks, quality expectations, resource requirements, etc. It is also a time to validate and understand the market to determine sales and profit potential. The Market Commit and Execute Commit gates ensure approval to develop the product and prepare it for market release.
The Execution phase prepares the product/service for launch to the market. For larger projects, there are multiple stages within Execution including Design, Alpha, Beta, Limited Availability, and General Availability. Each project is unique, and one or more of these stages within Execution may not be required. Note that the Design, Alpha and Beta stages may be referred as Phase 1 and Phase 2 stages. Each Execution stage may have it’s own PMI process management steps from Initiating through project Closing. As a result, there may be gates between each of the Execution stages to ensure that the project is ready for the next step.
When the project is ready for release, the project is formally closed. It is a good idea to hold a lessons learned meeting with the project stakeholders to capture the knowledge for future projects.