Product Obsolescence Management

Background

Engineering product companies, especially those with products which are used over periods in the excess of five years, have to take into consideration multiple aspects of product life in addition to the innovation that goes into the product conceptualization and the quality of engineering. One of the critical aspects of these products involving electronics and software is that they do have to consider the fact that the life of some of these components will not last the life of the product. This obsolescence is necessitated by advancements in the underlying electronics and software and in most cases this helps improve the products. However, there are key issues that need to be considered while managing the obsolescence and in most cases this will involve a re-engineering effort i.e. how the transition can be done seamlessly, managing regulatory expectations and cost of re-engineering. At Agiliad, we have worked towards addressing all these three factors and have established hardware and software design capability and processes necessary for such projects that help our customer make decisions better and this transition smooth and seamless.

Agiliad Solution

Obsolescence management of software only products and solution will follow principally the same process as the one that involves hardware but the focus in the case of letter tends to be a lot on manufacturing and regulatory management marginally. At Agiliad, we look at Software obsolescence primarily as a modernization challenge and address it accordingly.

At a higher level, we undertake and recommend the following sequence of steps for product obsolescence management,

  • Step 1: Need and impact of change in functional and non-functional requirements – proof of value analysis, impact on regulatory needs, impact on interfaces with external systems and change in user behaviours. For hardware re-engineering, we perform a thorough BOM analysis and impact on manufacturability.

  • Step 2: Architecture definition – focused particularly on backward compatibility, seamless transition, performance guarantee and end user continuity of context. This will involve building intermediate abstractions, decoupling of sub-systems and decisions involving carrying over critical modules to the new design.

  • Step 3: Deployment, verification, test and regulatory certification strategy - involving identifying various stakeholders, planning of test systems, functional testing, reuse/enhancement of test plans, and compatibility.

  • Step 4: Implementation and Validation – Agiliad process for this stage focuses on ensuring adherence to upper lifecycle artefacts, flexibility to improve the design and implementation iteratively, optimum use of tools for design, analysis and validation, and end to end traceability.

Applications of Obsolescence Management

  • Hardware obsolescence – experience of multiple alternative solutions which include firmware porting, hardware re-engineering and processor emulation.

  • ROHS Compliance, Power budgeting and Cost takeout – BOM analysis, component engineering, hardware redesign

  • Operating system or tool-chain obsolescence – Development of Hardware Abstraction Layer, OS Abstraction layer, Seamless migration of software from one operating system to another, RTOS, Linux, Micro-kernels. Also done while moving to open source OS and/or development tool chain

  • Software modernization – developing software for modern look and feel, migrate from an obsolete OS version to a new one, across databases, design retrofitting.