The Product Development Lifecycle Template Every Software Team Needs

A quick Google search of “Product Lifecycle” usually brings up that chart you might have seen once in school.

This lifecycle encompasses four stages: Development (or Introduction), Growth, Maturity, and Decline.

That first stage, development, is where engineering, product, and design teams create products. Yet, there’s not much information available about this phase of the Product Lifecycle, which contains an additional cycle within it called the Product Development Life Cycle.

Why not?

The main reason is because every organization is different. It’s not exactly a “one size fits all” process. Even two software companies with similar tech stacks, the same number of developers, and similar users will develop different software. While the high-level steps (like ideation and research) might be the same, there’s a lot of variation within each of those steps.

Despite these challenges, Melissa Chenok, Group Product Manager at DC-based startup Quorum, took the time to create a detailed set of steps for the company’s Product Development Lifecycle (PDLC) which includes a Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) within the implementation stage of the PDLC.

We asked Melissa to break down the steps in detail.

The PDLC and SDLC processes implemented at Quorum are surprisingly universal. While some tweaks may be necessary to accommodate for different programming languages, type of SaaS software or other variables, the overall process can be applied for developing most products and features. Although these cycles look seemingly linear, because software teams are increasingly moving to agile environments, many times over the course of a product development life cycle there will be iteration over previous stages.

Why is it worth following a standard process?

Following these PDLC and SDLC processes allows for standardization and scale of software and teams. New team members will be able to jump in and get up to speed quickly and existing team members can automate some of the basic project management related to developing new products. A standard process also enables cross functional teams to collaborate more effectively and efficiently since they’re all on the same page about each step that needs to be taken and dependencies to take into account.

A Look at Quorum’s Product Development Lifecycle

All of their products and features go through this process, which, in an agile environment, sometimes take place multiple times over the course of developing a product or feature. Everyone who’s part of the lifecycle, from engineering to customer support, contributes to and has bought into the mission. They all know what the process entails and what they need to do in order to make each product a success. Each of the steps are outlined at a high level below and once you finalize each step, the team can move to the next step.

Propose

You also have to take resource constraints into consideration: How long will the project take? What will the impact be on the bottom line? Does this solve user pain points and to what extent? What other projects are currently happening? How many product and engineering team members are available?

Research

Design

Implement

In a lot of ways, the SDLC is the engineer’s day-to-day job. The SDLC includes defining tasks, building and testing software, getting code and product reviews, and deploying final code onto the production environment.

(Note: Keep reading below for a full description of the SDLC model used at Quorum!)

Pre-Launch

Launch

Measure and Maintain

This is also when many teams conduct retrospectives with all team members who were involved with any step of the product life cycle — from marketing to infrastructure. They ask, “What went well and what could have gone better?”

By bringing all the key stakeholders into this question, they gain a broad perspective of the process and learn how to collaborate better on the next product launch or feature release.

A Look at Quorum’s Software Development Lifecycle

Tasks

Build and Test

At Quorum, for feature and product launches, the full product team will conduct manual testing sessions in addition to the automated tests that the engineers have written.

Review

Deploy

Keep scalability in mind

It’s important to understand what the current state of the process is in order to identify any gaps. To do this, ask questions: What’s taking more time than we would expect or like? Are there areas where we are deploying too many resources? In a perfect world, what would this look like?

Your processes should also be easy to remember and follow. That helps reduce the potential for errors. When new people join the team, they can easily jump in and follow (and enhance) the processes in place.

Two additional ways to help with scale are software and clear documentation and checklists. These help to ensure the processes are easy to follow and all steps are straightforward. This kind of scalability allows new team members to jump in and get up to speed quickly, positioning your company for growth.

*This is copied from an interview that I had with Hatchpad.io

Director of Product @ Quorum Analytics