Launch a Software Product - Product Release Lifecycle

To launch a successful software product, we need to learn and identify the different stages and maturity level that a product reaches during the development and quality assurance cycles.  This can be done by adhering to a product release lifecycle and setting gated stages that can signal when to move to the next stage. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.

Product Release Lifecycle

This lifecycle, also often referred to as Product Version Stages, is the process to identify key milestones and quality checkpoints/stages during the development of the product which enables a team to move closer to releasing a product.

The process involves several stages that would progressively show increased quality and product maturity. This is achieved by delivering features and/or testable components early and often (agile). This in turns leads to better Quality Assurance (QA) life cycles.  

Pre-Alpha Stage

In this stage, the product core features are made available for initial testing. This can include login, navigation and some core functionality that is testable. At this stage, the product is very immature and full of issues/bugs.  Those issues need to be resolved to reach quality level that can allow the product to unlock the next stage.

Alpha Stage

In the Alpha Stage, extended features are implemented. The quality has increased due to the initial testing. The team can focus on feature testing for the actual product. The testing cycles are more extensive as cross-components and integration points are validated. The goal in this stage is to have a level of features and quality that show what the end-product would be.

Beta Stage

This stage is the true indicator of the level of maturity of the product. This is a technology preview stage. At this stage, there is a feature lock (no more enhancements). The product is made available for user-acceptance testing with an external audience, possible customers, or user group. The goal is to get feedback from the field, identify defects, unknown issues that could put the release at risk. There is also a chance to identify additional enhancements that could make the product better and learn from possible user adoption problems.  This stage can iterate multiple times until a successful Beta enables the product to move to a Release Candidate stage.

Release Candidate (RC) Stage

In this stage, all the user feedback and identified defects have been addressed. The product quality and stability are high (silver quality). This is the Code Complete stage at which point all the features have been tested and validated. The only additional changes would be fixes/showstopper issues. At this stage, a selected set of customers (possible from the Beta group) can start using the product privately with the goal to identify any issues and/or unknown use cases.

Production Release Stage

After a successful Release Candidate stage, the product has golden quality and high stability. This unlocks the Production Release stage. The product is ready for General Availability (GA) and commercialization. This is now a product that can officially be launched into the market.

Product Launch

The product is now on the customer’s hands. At this point, the product goes into learning/maintenance mode in which additional issues, change request (CR) and wanted features would arise. Those items are reviewed, and the ones that are approved are processed and deployed as possible patches (defects) or upgrades (CR).


In additional to understanding software development life cycles, it is very important to understand the product release lifecycle as this enables us to track a product maturity and stability. It is also important to understand that this is an ongoing process in which we need to continuously iterate to make the product better. By following a process and trusting it, the percentage for a successful product increases.

Thanks for reading.

Originally published by ozkary.com


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