Application retirement, also known as sunsetting an application, application decommissioning or application neutering could be termed as a fundamental practice that allows an enterprise to shut down the obsolete business applications along with retaining access to the data present within.
Often, legacy applications could be maintained just for the sake to provide access to the data for the enterprise it belongs to, revolving around the business purposes.
It’s pretty common for almost every product to reach their expiry time. And this becomes the job of the producers to take them through the phase-out process, that we also call the sunset of an application.
There could be multiple reasons for the death of an application. However, typically, there are a few reasons as to why an application could reach an expiry time:
- The product just can’t work properly.
- The product isn’t generating enough revenue that could support the cost of maintaining it.
- The company is changing markets.
- The company found a better solution.
However, in most organizations, the reasons sometimes could be very different and that really doesn’t matter. There’s no definite process of figuring out when an application needs to be retired. At least, there’s no alarm on your computers that is going to notify you that a particular product or application has stopped or slowed down the revenue generation and that you could stop it.
Sunsetting applications and other products need a lot of planning to avoid disruption caused to your organization.
It isn’t always a pleasant process. There is a dark side to it where the users often are too dependent on the features and functions that it offers to aren’t carried through in the new products. This has a severe effect on the functioning of businesses.
Another common problem is the integration as a new release of software might face hardships to work with the different systems in a company. Or, there could be a system failure where a new release of software means new adaptations. If there is a failure, there’s usually very little help available.
Usually, a poor experience is more likely to damage the reputation of your company and haul the growth of your business. This is not good for your business.
This is why you need to have crisis management done prior to taking such steps so that your business doesn’t suffer.
You might be thinking, ‘How can I make the sunsetting of an application effective?’
Well, I am here to answer!
Try a good sunsetting method
A common method to retire an application or program is to do it gradually. This is done when the systems are being developed incrementally and the old systems are retired at the same time as well.
Different portions of the old systems are replaced with the new ones and overall, it could be very easier to manage most of the functionalities of the new product at the same time.
The effect on the users must also be considered while this replacement happens.
Get everybody involved in making the sunsetting decision
When it comes to sunsetting an application, it should just be up to the CEO, CTO, or the top-tier managers of the company. It should be everybody’s decision and every top management member should be allowed to cast a vote on the same decision.
This allows you to weigh the pros and cons of your decision and how well the rest of the members of your business are going to do with this decision.
Notify your customers
A common mistake most of the vendors in the markets make is that they don’t notify their customers about the retirement of an application. Rather, they just start with the process and then notify their customers when the deteriorating process has already begun. This reduces the faith a customer has in that very vendor.
What you could do is to provide enough notices, way before the sunsetting process to your customers, so that they already know a change is being made. 12 – 18 months of transitional time is always fine.
Don’t release a product till you know it works
The last thing you would want to do is to call your product back after it has released. This is just a sign of mistrust and authenticity among your customers. When you are planning to release something new, prepare it way before. A new product release shouldn’t be rushed at all to the market if it hasn’t been tested properly.
And when you are sure it works fine after multiple tests, that’s when you can release it.