ResourcesPM TopicsWhat Is a Product End-of-Life (EOL) Plan?

What Is a Product End-of-Life (EOL) Plan?


Executing a full product lifecycle is a unique challenge for businesses and requires strategic planning and decisive action. One of the key stages in a product lifecycle is the product end-of-life (EOL). There are various ways to execute an end-of-life product plan; nevertheless, an EOL product always requires careful consideration and proactive management. For this reason, we created this EOL guide to help product managers, product management teams, and their companies understand the significance of a well-crafted EOL product plan and how it can mitigate risks and maximize benefits for both the company and its customers.

What Is Product End-of-Life (EOL)?

Product End-of-Life (EOL) is when a product is retired from the market. Retirement can involve completely pulling the product from the market without replacing it or, in many cases, replacing it with a new version. Products may reach EOL for a variety of reasons, such as technology changes that make the product obsolete, competitive pressure that makes the product no longer viable, or the product simply can’t meet the required revenue or profitability thresholds.

TL;DR – Retiring a product (often called a product end-of-life, or an EOL product) occurs when a company decides to exit the market with said product in its current form.

[Infographic] Reasons to Retire a Product from Productside (formerly 280Group)
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Critical Factors in Creating an EOL Product Plan

Making the decision to move your product into the EOL phase should only be made after some thoughtful considerations. Failing to do so can negatively impact your brand and customer loyalty. When developing your end-of-life product plan, keep the following critical factors in mind:

  • Loyalty: How will you maintain customer loyalty through your EOL plan?
  • Negative implications: If you stop selling the product, will you encounter any legal or contractual implications? Have you promised customers anything that you won’t be following through on?
  • Financials: Is the potential EOL product still profitable, or are you losing money on it? If it’s profitable, is it worth the cost of spending resources to keep it in the market, or would these resources be better spent on something newer that may have more growth and profit potential?
  • Physical concerns: If it’s a physical product, what are the ramifications of discontinuing the product in terms of inventory, channel partners, returns, or customer replacement and support?
  • Risks: Are there any other risks associated with discontinuing this product, such as alienating longtime customers or possibly creating a backlash on social media if customers are unhappy that you have discontinued the product?

Different Products – Different EOL Product Issues

Different types of products have different issues when entering the EOL phase of the product lifecycle. Which one applies to your situation? Make sure that these issues form part of your end-of-life product plan.

[Infographic] Product Line Specific Issues from Productside (formerly 280Group)
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Example EOL Product Plan Template

This end-of-life product template has many sections. Because the EOL phase offers many options, you may not actually need to fill each and every section. Choose the appropriate sections for your own EOL product plan.

  • Executive Summary
  • Product description – Which product or product line will enter its end-of-life?
  • Parties affected by retirement – Internal groups at the company, Resellers and channel partners, Customers, etc.
  • EOL alternatives – Sell off product to another company, Spinout product, Continue sale for a limited time, Shut down product in the near term.
  • Chosen alternative and reasoning – Sell off product to another company. The product is no longer is a good strategic fit for where the company is headed.
  • Announcement plan – Critical dates, Manufacturing plan, Spare parts supply plan, Upgrade assistance, Customer support options, Technical support plan, Compatibility, Recycling/disposition guidelines, Trade-in or upgrade Options
  • Critical success factors for retirement of product

Follow These Best Practices for Your End-of-Life Product

There are a number of best practices to be aware of and implement when deciding to retire one or more products:

  • Consider creating a standardized end-of-life process so you can minimize and more easily predict the impacts to different groups within your company and to resellers and customers.
  • Communicate early and often so that stakeholders know what to expect and when.
  • Get the support and backing of all responsible groups and executives well beforehand so that things go smoothly.
  • Plan for continued support, warranty servicing, and so on for a stated time period to meet your stated policies to customers.

Make your EOL product plan just as important as your original product launch plan. When you successfully retire a product by keeping to an end-of-life plan, you keep internal groups and external customers updated and happy.

Want to learn more about elements of the Product Lifecycle? Check out these resources: