The Move to Product Lifecycle Management

The Next Evolution in Agile Target Operating Models

Over the past 5 years, there has been a fundamental shift in the delivery approach of major change programmes, as businesses focus on delivering faster change in line with changing business environments.

In an IT world, this has led to the widescale adoption of agile methodologies; consequently, most modern Target Operating Model (TOM) designs have encompassed a move from traditional waterfall to SCRUM or DevOps.

Whilst this has brought some key advantages, the focus is often on digital or web-based applications, as these are typically more visual and lend themselves to a SCRUM approach. Back office or ERP change is often still stuck in a project led approach based on fixed requirements and delivered over a longer time frame.
August 15 2020

Many clients have realised that they cannot sustain the challenge of managing significant demand from both business and market-led change by layering project upon project. This has led to agile techniques being brought into to the entire change agenda; moving thinking away from a set of fixed outcome projects to the service being delivered as a product that constantly evolves and changes.

This migration, from a project portfolio to a product portfolio, has become one of the key ways our more forward-thinking clients have sought to be increase responsiveness to their internal business demands. It promotes ways to differentiate to their customers and the markets they serve. It is a challenge being addressed across all sectors, in B2B and B2C businesses, accelerated by the demand to digitise across almost all business models.


This has resulted in the Product Life Cycle (PLC) being at the centre of the architecture and roadmap for IT organisations.

Product Life Cycle

The Philosophy

The move to a PLC approach requires a mind shift. Rather than creating projects and programmes, all business demand and requirements will be fulfilled through a continually evolving product. This can be delivered either through a product suite such as SAP or Oracle, a specific COTS package or an in-house derived/developed product from within the Enterprise. The dependence on bespoke, tailored or significantly configured solutions needs to be actively addressed and removed from the IT ecosystem.

Product releases and associated enhancements then become owned within the PLC. The PLC manages the product artefacts (modules) that make up the products and are at the core of delivering an agile and dynamic outcome for the business.



Successful PLC delivery depends on accelerating the cycles associated with product evolution, enhancement and improvement. Each of the product artefacts or modules needs to have a connected relationship to provide holistic outcomes and impacts to the Enterprise.

All of the above must be underpinned by aligned people, processes and technologies supporting the PLC.

Selecting the appropriate Product Management Lifecycle (PLM) tool will facilitate a tighter alignment and deliver control and governance. Most ERP vendors have PLM toolsets to support this.

5 Key Watch-outs

From our work with other clients, our own experience and research, we believe there are 5 key watch-outs for any organisation moving to a PLC focus.

1. Business and IT must be aligned

Demand (business requirements, product enhancements or product change) needs to be fed into the front of the PLC. The business and delivery organisation (internal IT or outsourced vendor) need to be aligned to enable these demands to be fulfilled.

2. Agility must be endemic

The PLC needs agility and speed to be at its core.  The development methodology and approach must enable rapid capture, proving and adoption for any in-flight code-drops, interim and/or major product releases.

3. Enterprise Architecture is key

The focus of PLC is on outcomes not the business processes.  Enterprise architecture, aligned to the design authority and the product management discipline, are there to deliver the outcomes in an optimised modular way.

4. Don’t try this on bespoke or customised solutions

High-levels of reusability and maintainability of the product modules/artefacts is key to successfully achieving an ROI and shifting from the project cycle and the associated costs and risks. Bespoke, tailored or significantly configured solutions should be removed from the IT ecosystem.

5. Use a toolset

PLM tools can support both the IT organisation and the Enterprise. Depending on your portfolio, this maybe one tool for the Enterprise or you may have application specific tools for large ERPs such as SAP or Oracle.