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Friday, June 28, 2013

Product End of Life.

Product managers are very passionate about their product. They by their DNA can only envisage success and fame of the product they own. Rarely would you see a product manager  talking passionately about declaring EOL of their product. However there are situations wherein it becomes important to think of alternates, situations where limiting the losses takes higher priority than enhancing product features. Here are few signs of aging product that might be causing similar situation in your organization, and if you happen to observe similar behaviors / patterns with the product that you own than it may be the time to initiate EOL

Longer Time to Market: Average time to deliver new feature implementation, bug fixes or enhancements has increased significantly. The product has grown in size in terms of code base, feature set or number of files. Adding a new feature requires longer time due to large number of files, cross references and validations. The test cycle has also increased significantly to an extent that a feature added in a sub-module might require a re-certification of entire system due to complex inter-dependencies. A corner case bug fix requires lot of time to debug and test before it goes to market. You have a long tail of features used by fewer customers and you cannot take chances by omitting any area from testing. On the other hand, you have competition who have new products, light weigh product targeting specific needs and their turn-around time is fraction that of yours. You are sure to find it difficult to convince your internal stake holders and customers on technical limitations and delayed deliveries. To add to worse the technology that you have have does not have many experts in the market so that you can improvise your product or product architecture.

Lowering Bottom Line: Deploying and maintaining a complex system is very costly. It requires larger time and manpower to support such a system which in-turn directly impacts the support cost. A higher cost of support is bound to impact bottom line of the business, a leakage that product manager is expected to shut down. If lowering the cost of support is not feasible than EOL should be considered more seriously. Get the product / architecture reviewed by the arch team or CTO to assess feasibility of lowering such cost. Think wisely on how long your organization can bear this loss of profit and as product owner what other choices you have. Remember, sinking bottom line is primary concern of executives at the top and such things neither go unnoticed nor are they left to the faith. Better have your recommendation ready before you get this as direction from the top.

Complex Integration: Integration with complementing products / solutions has either becomes complex or is simply not possible. You are left long behind in the race and you are now finding it difficult to match up to the pace and technology of products around you. Customers typically do not like standalone products,  at the end of the end your system is expected to talk to others, have data exchange and in-turn have better value proposition. Integration capabilities enhances customer acceptability which in-turn directly influence the top line of your business. Consider yourself really lucky if integration requirements for your kind of product or solution is very minimal in the market place, as you now have 1 less reason to worry for.

It is important that a product manager takes experience of a product in declining phase. These are tough situation and learning from here can definitely helps in lowering losses and in better designing of your next product.


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