Introduction 

Products go into obsolescence primarily due to two reasons – functional obsolescence or fashion obsolescence. This has led to the creation of a formal end-of-life plan for many companies. It has become a strategically important tool that steers higher annual recurring revenue, helps smooth transition between two different business models, and improves the lifetime customer value. 

  1. What is End of Life (EOL)?
  2. Critical Factors in Creating a Product End of Life (EOL) Plan
  3. Different Products – Different EOL issues
  4. Checking Out Parts of a Product EOL Template
  5. Following Best Practices When Retiring a Product

1. What is End of Life (EOL)?

End of Life (EOL) is when a product reaches the end of its product life cycle and is consequently withdrawn from the market. It can be either completely pulled out from the market without substituting it or, in many cases, substituting it with a new edition. This could be due to a change in market demands, technology, competitive pressure, unprofitability, or the product has become obsolete and replaced by functionally richer technology.  Once obsolete, the product is not sold, improved, maintained, or supported.

2. Critical Factors in Creating a Product End of Life (EOL) Plan

The following critical factors should be kept in mind while developing a product end of life plan- 

1.Profitability and Marketability: The product with the lowest profit potential is often selected for an EOL Plan. However, a product may also be selected to give way to newer products with better technology or in a case when the product is not marketable. 

2.Sustainability: The choice between Remanufacture, Repair/ Reuse, Disposal, and Recycle is often based on the impact the product may have on the environment.

3. Customer Loyalty: Come up with alternative solutions for customer retention. Maintain customer loyalty by ranking customers based on monthly recurring revenue. In case there is a repeatable pattern of happy and profitable customers, you have potentially identified the issue—and it might not be the product.

4.Technical Implications: The production process for the product needs to be considered, the technical implications of the selected product on the existing production line, available technology, and even the labour force.

5. Negative implications: Consideration should be given to the contractual or legal implications that come after the sale of the product has been stopped. 

6.Government Policies: The selection of the product is significantly influenced by government policies regarding the product or the industry as a whole. For example, promoting the use of electric vehicles could affect the life cycle of petrol or diesel-driven vehicles.

7. Business objectives: The contributions of the product to the realization of the company’s short and long-range objectives must be considered before selection. 

8. Physical concerns: In case it’s a physical product, the implications of discontinuing the product in terms of customer replacement support, inventory, returns, or channel partners.

9. Risks: Consider the risks associated with discontinuing the product, such as loss of customers or possibly creating retaliation on social media if customers are unhappy that you have discontinued the product.

3. Different Products – Different EOL issues

Different types of product have different issues at the end of their life as follows: –

Physical product

  • Management of inventory in the pipeline 
  • Reduction in price in case of excess inventory 
  • Increase in price to drive customers 
  • Maintaining spare parts of discontinued products. 

Services

  • Sales or service operation transition user data over to a new service or website
  • Maintain old service or website for the existing user even after sales or enrolment stop

Software

  • Upgrade protection pricing 
  • Developer bug fix and patch availability  
  • Compatibility with future products

Crisis management

  • Overheating
  • Chances of batteries blowing up 
  • Food or drug poison

4. Checking Out Parts of a Product EOL Template

  • Scope

Reasons for discontinuing specific products

Cost-effectiveness or innovation

Communication of transition plans for discontinued products 

  • Announcement of the start of the end-of-life program of the product
  • Product details

Details of the product or product line are being discontinued.

Details of the versions available and the versions that will be discontinued immediately or over a period of time

  • Parties affected by retirement          

Internal groups at the company

Resellers

Channel partners

Customers

  • Alternatives available

Take over by another company,

New product launch,

Continue sale for a limited time,

Shut down product in near future

  • Announcement         

Date of discontinuance

Spare parts availability

Assistance in Upgrading versions,

Customer and Technical support options,

Compatibility,  

Exchange or Upgrade Options

  • Key performance indicators of success factors for the retirement of the product

5. Following Best Practices When Retiring a Product

Best practices to be implemented when retiring a product:

  • A standardized and formal product end-of-life process helps to minimize and forecast the impacts on various stakeholders associated with the product.
  • Early Communication with stakeholders makes them well aware of what to expect and when.
  • Continued technical and customer support, warranty servicing, after-sales services, and so on for an extended time period to ensure smooth transitioning.
  • Successful retirement of a product by keeping up with the proposed plan ensures that both the internal and external customers satisfied and their loyalty is maintained.

Conclusion 

The EOL phase of the product life cycle is as important to the continued success of a company’s product strategy as the introduction, growth, and maturity phases. For product managers, working on end-of-life initiatives provides a great opportunity. Gaining insights from seeing a product reach its natural end of life after a long run in the market is fulfilling.

Interested to learn all about Product Management from the best minds in the industry? Check out our Product Management Course. This 6-month-long program takes place online through live instructor-led sessions. It is the only program in India that offers the ‘Bring Your Own Product (BYOP)’ feature so that learners can build their product idea into a full-blown product, and go through an entire Product Development lifecycle. Not only this, but this is the only program in India with a curriculum that conforms to the 5i Framework. Post completion, learners receive a joint certification from the Indian Institute of Management, Indore, and Jigsaw Academy. 

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