The end of the ALM process: When to decommission a mobile app

There comes a point in the ALM process where an application, especially a mobile app, needs to be decommissioned and taken out of service.

Software development teams often pour their heart and souls into the mobile applications they develop, but there comes a time where the mobile application lifecycle management process must come to an end, and that means decommissioning the mobile application that was so proudly put into production many moons ago.

No matter how good a product is when first released, there comes a time to decommission.

Lukas Stewart, Mobile Software Architect

Of course, given the pride so many teams have in their mobile apps, many organizations keep their mobile applications active long beyond the time in which they should have been put out to pasture. How does an organization know when it's time for the decommissioning process to begin? Here are seven scenarios that indicate pretty clearly that it's time to yank your code from the app store:

Seven reasons why your mobile app needs to be decommissioned:

  1. Too few people are using the mobile app
  2. The mobile application does not deliver or support revenue making activities, and it isn’t worth the ongoing costs for maintenance
  3. Another firm has created an mobile app that does the job better, so your company acquires the right to white label their app and roll it out to your customers as a replacement for your existing app
  4. Your organization and its needs have changed and the app is no longer relevant to your business model
  5. The app is targeted at a function or device that is no longer in popular use by your target user demographic. For example, you might have a BlackBerry app that is falling into disuse in the age of the Android device.
  6. An app-related security breach occurs that is so serious you need to completely remove the app from circulation rather than simply patching things up
  7. The app sucks so much that your company is embarrassed that it was ever released; it needs to be improved and rebranded to shake off the stench of poor user reviews

While many software development teams are proud of the mobile products they have developed, pride should never allow a good product to turn stale. No matter how good a product is when it is first released, there comes a time when an application must be decommissioned, and the mobile ALM process brought to an end.

What types  of consumer backlash have you experienced when keeping an application in production long beyond its useful lifespan? Let us know your experiences.

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This was last published in June 2013

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