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Project Life Cycle VS Product Life Cycle

project lifecycle vs product lifecycle

Many think both Project Life Cycle and Product Life cycle are one and the same. However, fact is, both are different, and it is important to have clarity on this. So lets look into this.

Product Life Cycle

In simple terms, Product Life cycle describes the stages a product goes through from when it was first thought of until it finally is removed from the market.

PMI Definition of Product Life cycle: Product Life Cycle is the series of phases that represent the evolution of a product, from concept through delivery, growth, maturity, and retirement.

The generally accepted various phases of a product life cycle are

  1. Concept or Research and Development – This is the idea phase; The idea of product its feasibility and possibility to develop is studied, and the product is developed.
  2. Introduction – Product is introduced to the market for the first time. Sales of the product start to grow slowly.
  3. Growth – Product is well known in the market. Quick growth in sales of the product. More new customers trying the product.
  4. Maturity – Quantity of sales are at its peak. However, growth in sales tend to be stagnant or decreases. New buyers can be got only at the expense of competition.
  5. Retirement – Negative rate of growth in product sales and also profits. You sell off your inventory i.e.. the product will be removed from the market gradually. This stage is reached due to factors such as better competition or technological advancements making your product obsolete. Product Life Cycle curve - plots PLC stages against against annual sales volume Product Life Cycle Stages (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Project Life Cycle

We already know that a Project is temporary endeavor with a start and an end, that produces unique product or service or result.

So, a Project can be started to produce a product. After the product is produced, the project will come to an end or ceases to exist.  Project Life Cycle(PLC) is simply the series of phases that a project passes through from its start to its completion. PLC provides the basic framework for managing a project. It does not matter what type of product you are building, and what industry the project belongs to, the Project Management Processes are same every where.

PMI’s PMBOK guide defines the various phases in a generic project life cycle

  1. Starting the project
  2. Organizing and preparing
  3. Carrying out the work
  4. Ending the project.

The above is the broad categorization of  different phases in any project. However, there can be more phases as required by the project, and each phase can consist of activities from the 5 process groups : Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing. Check the different Project Management Processes, Process Groups, and Knowledge areas.

Product Life Cycle VS Project Life Cycle

  • A Project Life Cycle can be a subset of Product Life Cycle. It can be part of one or more product life cycle phases.
  • In a project life cycle,  you only develop or enhance a product, but Product life cycle includes anything and everything done related to the product. So categorically, Project Life Cycle is a subset of Product Life Cycle.
  • A Project Life Cycle has a definite end, but a Product life cycle may not. Some products sell 100’s of years.
  • Product Life Cycle phases are sequential and does not overlap, while Project Life cycle phases may or may not be sequential as they can overlap.
  • In Product life cycle once a phase is over it is over, it will not repeat. In Project Life Cycle its phases may repeat depending upon the requirements.

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