As a product team, it’s our responsibility to deliver the most valuable product to the market, which means we’re always looking ahead and planning for the future. A common misconception is that the only way to increase the product value is by adding features. However, we also have to be aware of the decreased value that the product delivers when duplicate functionality exists in the system, which must be maintained and slows the pace of improvements. Additionally, there are scenarios where features don’t provide the value they should and aren’t in line with the direction of the product, for example the accounting functionality we are removing in 2016.
In order to be as transparent as possible about the decisions and process, I wanted to share the “how” and the “why” of retiring functionality. As I was looking for other policies from software companies for ideas on how to author this article, I came across this from Zendesk, which is the software we currently use for our help desk:
This article does a terrific job of explaining why it’s important to remove functionality from your product that is duplicative or doesn’t add value to users. Rather than write the same in my own words, I invite you to read through that article. Thanks to our friends at Zendesk for providing such a clear explanation!
At Administrate, we share the same rationale as to why we must curate our product and remove old versions of features and functionality. The goal is to provide software, support, and account management to our customers that is always improving. When we do retire functionality at Administrate, we communicate “3 dates” to our customers so they understand what is being retired and what action they may need to take.
Date 1: Announcement
This is the date we communicate to customers that a feature has been marked to be retired. We will accompany this with an explanation of why the decision was made and what you, the user, need to change in order to prepare. Sometimes this is simply “use the new version”, but other times there may not be an exact one to one replacement, so we will provide an explanation of what you may need to change. Our Account Managers and support will be prepared to answer questions and walk you through the transition.
Date 2: When Support Ends
The announcement will contain a date when support will be ended. Prior to that time, we will continue to fix bugs and answer support questions. After this, the functionality will still exist for a time, but will not be supported by our Customer Success and Engineering teams. It is recommended you discontinue use by this date.
Date 3: When the Feature is Removed From the Product
The initial announcement will also contain a date on which the feature will be entirely removed from the product. You must be fully transitioned to the new version, alternative solution, or revised workflow as described by the preparation instructions in the announcement by this date.
We will be referring back to this article and the definitions of the “3 dates” as we press forward delivering new features and retiring some older features. In this way we will be always improving, and reliable while striving for a truly excellent experience for our customers.