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4 Best Practices for End-of-Life Product Management

20 March, 2020
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The technological landscape is continuously evolving, adapting in accordance with the new developments that are frequently appearing at an ever-increasing pace. This automatically places limitations on the lifespan of tech devices, making end-of-life one of the most critical phases of the technology lifecycle. While many enterprises are well prepared for the beginning stages of introducing a new device or tech product into their business, they may not be ready for what will happen when it’s time for these products to phase out. End-of-life product management is a critical component in the overarching lifecycle management, wherein OEMs will no longer produce, sell or provide upgrades, fixes or other related services for specific technology hardware or software—making them virtually obsolete. Here are several best practices on how your organization can effectively navigate product end-of-life.

 

1. Strategize and determine a plan for ending the product.

A lifecycle management plan covers all aspects of product development, from conception to end-of-life, and having one in place is essential for effectively phasing out a product and avoiding disruption within an organization. Preparation for end-of-life reduces cybersecurity vulnerabilities, while seamless product platform and configuration transitions mitigate the risk of downtime, safety and stock-out issues for manufacturers. This helps keep companies in highly regulated industries compliant with complex requirements, aligns the lifecycle of IoT products with the technology connected to them and prevents disruption to essential enterprise infrastructure platforms. When considering whether to phase out a product, some key questions to consider are:

  • Is the product still bringing in enough revenue to support the cost of maintaining it?
  • Does your company still want to maintain a presence in that specific market?
  • Does your company have a better solution available?

Organizations need to consider whether a specific product continues to make sense in the context of the existing product portfolio. If it no longer aligns with the company’s market strategy, it’s a good idea to consider phasing it out. However, data and analytical proof are typically required to back up a decision to sunset a product. Assuming at least one technician is needed for the company to maintain the product, think about whether the cost of keeping the required personnel on board is worth preserving the product. Additionally, you should evaluate the cost of the activities required to deliver and maintain the product, determining whether your organization will earn or lose profit.

 

2. Stay up to date on end-of-life status for any part that is critical to the product build and cannot be easily replaced or substituted.

Most major suppliers have a lifecycle for the majority of their products. This allows customers to have guidelines and insight into the projected lifespan of a product. It also enables customers to act with time sensitivity, capitalizing on the early stages of a lifecycle to ensure the longest lifespan possible. Regular monitoring of end-of-life status provides sufficient time to validate new parts and establish seamless transitions. Organizations should be aware of the end-of-life dates of products prior to selecting them for their build, and they should also evaluate long-life options in most circumstances.

 

3. Communicate clearly with customers.

Maintaining regular communication with customers and updating them on upcoming end-of-life provides transparency into the customer-manufacturer process, allowing customers to either work with you to upgrade and transition to a new option, or leave and find another business to help them. Demonstrating the ability to seamlessly handle a transition from an old product version to a new one is essential in establishing reputability and loyalty with your customers. Likewise, informing customers about what product is being eliminated is critical, as well as offering them an alternative solution.

 

4. Be proactive in developing multiple options ahead of time.

With technology transforming so quickly, manufacturers need to think far down the line about their plan of action for minimizing interruptions when end-of-life approaches. For example, when a medical device manufacturer is developing an instrument, they have to build two versions at the same time. If not, the first version – both instrument and technology – is outdated by the time it is released. For instance, pacemaker manufacturers use a particular type of battery, as well as specific technology they purchase from a company. The technology may be designed with a 10-year lifecycle, but the battery may only have a 2-year lifecycle. This means that, when the manufacturers bring the pacemaker to market, they need to be already working on the next version of the product to match the new battery that will be implemented. If they don’t develop two generations of the instrument at the same time, the manufacturer will often lose out to its competitors who did choose to strategize with foresight.

 

Potential Risks Involved in End-of-Life

Without careful consideration and proper planning, a product’s end-of-life can pose various risks. Before most products are sold on the market, they often require the completion of a validation process. If a product goes end-of-life without proper warning and preparation, it can contribute to disruption in a company’s supply chain. Additionally, companies need to ensure they have the ability to do a last time buy on the specific part or product that is sunsetting; without this opportunity, a company could end up without stock of a necessary component, causing production to come to a stop. There is also the potential that a company could end up having to pay out a large sum of money to secure a last time buy. This would require them to make a guess as to how much stock they need, which could end up being either more than they need or not enough—possibly creating waste or even a product outage.

 

How Dynamic Can Help

The overall key to a successful transition through a product’s end-of-life is thoughtful, detailed planning and lifecycle management. For IoT product managers who struggle with the ever-fluctuating lifecycle of assets, Dynamic’s service package will ensure you always have the support needed to manage the IT behind your product. We provide the most current end-of-life dates and the best replacement options, ensuring that you are notified of important upcoming dates with ample time to allow you to complete a flawless transition without interruption to your business. For more information, contact us at 866-399-1084 or info@dccit.com.


 

Tami Schultz

Tami Schultz is the Vice President of Business Development at Dynamic Computer Corporation, where she leads the sales and account management functions with her expertise in developing and executing strategy. As a service outsourcing veteran, Tami has a proven track record in leading complex national and global service programs that leverage technology to enable business objectives while growing market share. She is also a member of Michigan Women in Technology and the Supply Chain Leaders in Action – Women in Action Committee.

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