Supporting a Complete Product Lifecycle: Cradle-to-Grave

July 25, 2017

The cradle-to-grave analysis is typically applied to adhere to sustainability or environmentally sound supply chains often applied to waste management or raw material extraction. However for the discussion here, we are going to apply cradle-to-grave in a general sense to product feedback management.

We often see when helping clients manage the data collection process for their products, product retirement or product recycling falls to the wayside — focusing their efforts in product improvement and research or moving onto a new product all together, leaving every element of the previous product behind after it has become irrelevant in the market and/or run its course and become obsolete.  

Yet the goal of this strategy is to compare the full-range of the product by quantifying all adjustments, fixes, tweaks, and the impact it all has on the market. This information should then be used to improve product processes, feature request prioritization, and back-up any product shift with historical market performance data.

Holistic Assessment

It takes meticulous and continuous tracking to get this strategy right. For it to truly work in this product feedback context, the strategy needs plenty of data, dedicated time to analyze the data, and the ability to then take the numbers and apply them to forward-thinking initiatives. There are two objectives with conducting a holistic assessment of the cradle-to-grave strategy:

Objective 1: Establish or attribute any production kinks or experience hiccups with the product at a specific point-in-time so the product team can then address that issue head on and in an efficient timeframe.

Objective 2: Identify the consequences any changes in the product will have on the end-user’s experience or on the market.  

Create Greater Visibility with Cradle-to-Grave

Product managers should always have the greatest visibility possible in the product, the experience it offers, and how it functions in the field. Not only because this allows for the product manager and the product team to always have their finger on the product’s pulse, but they have greater control of the product, according to Accenture.

With this end-to-end approach, product managers can:

  • Continually monitor the source and quality of product adjustments
  • Control the production schedule and delivery of fixes and/or enhancements
  • Improve reverse supply chains

Without a holistic strategy, the company is placed at risk, Accenture says, “Brand damage, sales declines, burdensome regulation, and customer lawsuits can result from poor response to product failures.”

When to Use Cradle-to-Grave

Use this approach when you’re looking to test the impact of any product changes with your audience. This could include checking at the quality of the materials you are using to make the product or even package the product and how you can distribute it. Essentially, as a product manager using the cradle to grave approach, you are responsible for the product’s development, impact, and innovation from its conception to its death — figuratively speaking, of course.

The most important takeaway from using this method is that you just don’t stop trying to improve a product’s functionality or its use in the market after you’ve calculated a great idea or have a working prototype. Follow through with the product from the very early ideation stages to when/if it becomes obsolete. That data becomes invaluable for any product development initiatives moving ahead and creates a benchmark of sorts for you to work off.

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