Are existing product(s) being replaced?
- How much stock or parts inventory of the older product(s) do you have?
- What is the plan for clearing any remaining stock and parts?
- When do you stop producing the older product(s)?
- Will there be a “hard stop” or a phase-in period during which both older and newer products are produced?
- Have parts been allocated to Service for existing and future customer support?
- Will there be a change in product life cycle support status?
- Do you plan on alerting existing customers on the discontinuation of their product?
- What is the plan for notifying sales and service?
- Are there key accounts that will be affected by such a change? If so, what is the plan for working with these accounts?
- Will there be an opportunity for “last time purchases”?
- Is a comparison list available showing the feature and function differences between the old and new products?
- When will the web site, catalogs, and other collateral be updated to reflect the changes?
What happens to orders for the older product?
- Of course, we all know the other side of discontinuing a product - a whole slew of orders or requests will come in!
- Are there orders (in process) based on bids, tenders, letters of credit which cannot be changed?
- Are there orders (in process) where the user will not want a change (based on existing processes and usage, etc.)
- Will you notify customers who purchased the older product about the newer product prior to shipment?
- Will (can) the new product be substituted in its place automatically?
- Is there a cost or price difference? Is so, how is this to be handled?
What happens to active quotes in the sales funnel?
- Will new replacement quotes substituting the new replacement product be sent to these prospects automatically?
If the older products remain available, will their sell prices be adjusted?
- You may raise the sell price if your cost to produce the older products goes up (due to lower purchase volumes and scale of economy) , your older products serve a niche, or your customers are captive (e.g. they are locked into processes that require the older product). You might also want to raise the sell price as a way to encourage (force) purchase of the newer product.
- You may want to decrease the sell price if you want to create a lower product tier and capital development and tooling costs have already been recouped (i.e., the only cost is incremental unit costs).
What is the contingency plan if the new product(s) are late?
- Murphy's Law tends to kick in. You have to sell something in the meantime so plan ahead.
I'm sure that you have more to add to the list. These activities are usually an after-thought but they are critical. You need to communicate and work closely with Manufacturing, Purchasing, Service Support, Sales, etc. to ensure that older inventory is cleared, key accounts are not adversely affected, and orders in process are handled properly. Failure to do so can lead to expensive inventory surplus, inability to support existing users, competitive entry into key accounts...and learning the latest swear words from just about everyone.