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Digital products have made life easier for us, such that we might never have imagined before. An initial perception will likely tell you that software and hardware products work differently than we do.

But what about when it comes to product lifetime?

A closer look entails the fact that there are certain similarities too. One similar aspect we will discuss today is the retirement in the lifecycle of a digital product or managing End-of-Life for a digital product.

Just like we need to plan meticulously about our life after our prime, should a business owner be ready with a retirement plan as part of the lifecycle of a digital product their brand has launched right from the beginning?

The answer is an absolute yes. In fact, with an EOL, they should also be prepared with an End-of-Sale date for their software and hardware products.

Methodically and formally planning the End-of-Life management for a digital product gives your brand a strategic edge as well as marketing advantage and is responsible for – 

  • Higher Y-o-Y recurring revenue.
  • Seamless transition between different business models.
  • Improved lifetime customer value.

What is End-of-Life (EOL) for Digital Products?

End-of-Life or Decline is the last of the four main stages of a digital product life cycle (PLC), the first three being – 

  • Introduction
  • Growth
  • Maturity

Though all digital products do not share the same lifespan, the characteristics of each stage remain the same, more or less. In the decline stage of PLC, the general scheme of things looks somewhat like this –

  • Competition gets too high.
  • Sales go down owing mainly to the ever-evolving technology scene.
  • Consumer needs are different than in the introduction stage of the PLC.
  • Trends keep changing rapidly.

When is it Time to End-of-Life a Product?

When the sales rate falls to a point where the digital product stops being cost-effective for your brand, it is time to implement your End-of-Life management plan and also get on with your End-of-Sale date.

The basic strategy during the decline stage of PLC is to maintain it at minimum cost and stop expenses associated with, among other things – 

  • Marketing, advertising and sales promotions
  • Cost per lead
  • Sales processes
  • Support costs

Critical Factors in Creating a Product End of Life Plan

At this point, you also have to answer other questions, including – 

  • Can you project any innovation in the same product?
  • Do you have another digital product with a better chance of growth and profitability?
  • What effect does your product have on the environment?
  • How does the product contribute to your short and long-term business objectives?

Suppose the answers to these questions tell you that the return on your digital product is small and even the operating costs are too large. In that case, you have to take a call on whether you want to discontinue your product and whether to inform your customers about the End-of-Sale date of the product.

Risks of using Outdated Digital Products

Indeed, facing the decline stage of PLC and eventually deciding to sunset a digital product comes with many complex and lengthy processes. But it is a business decision that you must take because outdated digital products are counterproductive in various capacities, including – 

  • Security concerns because security upgrades, patches, or bug fixes are no longer available.
  • High cost of maintenance, including operating, labor, overhead, and product support costs.
  • Outdated technology and support lead to compatibility issues and no escalation process or community support.
  • Compliance difficulties when facing new industry regulations or standards.
  • Incompatibility with the latest technology causes strain and eventual degradation in the digital product’s performance.

Refrain from letting software and hardware products that should go into sunset impact your business in the long term because the more you delay it, the more challenging and expensive it will be. 

Once you start sunsetting your digital product, you will uncover a lot regarding both development and sales management, including your End-of-Service-Life plan.

It will open creative options for you and enable you to preserve and enhance the value you are providing your customers during and the product lifetime. After all, maintaining and growing your customer base is your consistent goal.

Managing the Decline : End of your Digital Product while Sticking to a Timeline

Your top priority for your brand is to develop products that will grow and satisfy your customers. 

Sunsetting a digital product leads to a growth strategy where you can re-prioritize and invest resources and money in more potent products and ideas. Once you are on towards ending the life of your digital product, here’s what you can do.

  • Impact analysis Your decision must be data-driven but focus only partially on numbers. Talk to the market. Get the perspectives of industry analysts and, more importantly, customers. Learn how they use the product and how sunsetting your digital product affects them. Focus on how this knowledge impacts your End-of-Service-Life plan.
  • Communication with stakeholders – Answer the questions most important to your stakeholders and keep providing consistent information to them , including how long you will support your digital product after the sunset and what operations you have to ensure the support – essentially what your End-of-Service-Life plan will look like.
  • Planning – Have a clear rationale for sunsetting your digital product and an elaborate action plan for sales, customer support, and customer success. Make sure that your decisions are not impacting customer satisfaction negatively. Inform them about what alternative digital product you plan to put on the market.

Remember, while sunsetting a product, you must also counter your competitors by taking advantage of the situation.

  • Timeline – Divide your End-of-Life management plan into three phases. The first phase is about deciding when to sunset the digital product and what to do about the sustaining engineering it will need. The second phase involves getting buy-in on your decision to sunset it. The third phase is when you plan and communicate your EOL plan for your product.
  • Execution – Ultimately you are here to solve the business problem accurately while minimizing negative impact. Focus on the long-term value you create for the user via the End-of-Life process for your digital product.

Develop an End-of-Life Product Roadmap

To avoid getting caught off guard by your EOL plan, here are 7 Steps to Sunsetting your Digital Product

  • Prototype and test your options in a proper testing environment under different configurations using different platforms. 
  • Put it into development with feature flags like during a regular software delivery. 
  • Track it like a product experiment to get to your desired outcome. 
  • Communicate to the team and customers where you discuss how this will affect them and their alternatives. 
  • Document everything and establish formalized policies for the digital products going through the End-of-Life process. This will immensely assist you when it comes to sustaining engineering.
  • Measure how the digital product performs regarding revenue generation and new customer acquisition. 

Complete End-of-Life Management for your Digital Product with Wishtree Technologies

When you revise your strategic positioning and go for resource reconfiguration, you focus on products or opportunities that are more profitable and technically sustainable for your business.

Right from the decline stage of PLC, End-of-Life management not done right can impact your business tremendously, the most pronounced effect being unhappy customers who you are at risk of losing.

Diligent planning across teams is the key where in the end, your stakeholders can see the value they are gaining from your decision to sunset the digital product. 

With a decade of experience in sustaining engineering, we at Wishtree Technologies provide you with relevant resources and carry out the entire End-of-Life management process for your digital product.

At a glance, here’s what working with us on the End-of-Life management plan will look like.

  • We analyze your overall product strategy and evaluate and track your features to determine what value it is still providing.
  • We help you make data-backed decisions following revenue metrics, including churn rate, customer acquisition, and retention rates.
  • We determine how many development resources and how much support efforts the digital product consumes and plan the redeployment of these resources into more profitable products.
  • Our cloud migration strategy ensures a smooth transition while providing tight security, enhanced scalability and flexibility, and the latest technologies – all with a minimized pocket pinch.
  • Our diverse tech expertise traversing platforms and customer-first approach spells a flexible and seamless collaboration for your business.

A Data Engineering company with a proven track record of serving global customers, Wishtree Technologies provides tailored solutions to clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies (Thomabravo, Vista Equity Partners), UN Agencies (WHO, UNDP, World Bank) Nonprofits, and Startups.

Contact us today, for a smooth sunsetting of your digital product.