Sunrise – Sunset: The Art of Product Discontinuation
This post is not about the famous song from Fiddler on the Roof where the lyrics “Sunrise, sunset…seedlings turn overnight into sunflowers… one season following another…” If you’re a parent, or maybe you’ll be a parent one day, you’ll not be a stranger to the passage of time. And so it goes with some products.
There’s no secret involved here, and most of us in the product business know that non-viable, non-critical products within the portfolio use vital resources that can be used for other product investments. With this backdrop, why is it that product managers and business leaders tenaciously hold-on to products that are no longer strategically important or fit for market? Sunrise, sunset.
There are any number of barriers to effective discontinuation. Some of these include a lack of attention to market trends, or a lack of focus on the real results; fewer sales, or no sales. In my corporate life, people used to say “what if we get an order from a customer?” I’d roll my eyes as I’d think about inventory in a warehouse. Or with my software systems I managed – usage was down, transactional volumes were evaporating, and money wasn’t coming into the checkbook.
If you believe your product is ready for a graceful exit, consider the decision criteria that you could apply. Try a checklist like the one below
If you answered yes to most of these questions (and others you might come up with), it’s probably time to show your product the door. Sunrise, sunset.
In order to appropriately plan for the exit, you need some documentation. You can refer to this as a Product Discontinuation Document or PDD. The PDD is used to build the case for the discontinuation and withdrawal from the market. I like to think of this as a business case – in reverse. You’re rationalizing the “dis-investment!”
The PDD chronicles the product’s history, considers all the market and business dynamics, and articulates a project plan for the orderly discontinuation of product operations.
If you’d like to get ahead of the curve and sunset that product, you’ll benefit from receiving a copy of our Product Discontinuation Template. GO HERE to get yours!
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