Product families with many variants are often very complex and many resources are needed in the quotation process to work out offers and product specifications. This complexity is often the result of a large number of components, many variants and a complex set of rules/calculations for combining components into a product. Sales engineers can spend hours, days or even weeks to manually work out quotes and the sales order often goes to a competitor with a faster quotation process, a shorter delivery time and a similar product at a lower price.
Typical consequences of operating without a configuration system:
- Difficult to be competitive with the time and resources spent on manual quotation
- Manual quotation process leads to human errors and several iterations are often needed before the order is accepted and placed by the customer
- Low order hit-rate – Only a few quotations lead to actual orders
- Difficult to sell profitable solutions – Sales engineers are giving discounts and signing orders without knowing if the order will be profitable
- Adding more variants – It is often easier to add a new variant that meets the requirement than it is to find and use an existing solution
One way to manage the complexity and significantly reduce the quotation time is to introduce a configuration system.
Typical challenges during the implementation of a configuration system:
- Focus sales on preferred solutions – There is a risk that even more variants are created after implementation, as the configurator can make it very easy to generate new variants
- User commitment – Sales engineers who are accustomed to doing manual quotation can be reluctant to use the configurator
- Too technical – There is a risk that the configurator will focus too much on technical details of the product rather than the product options that add true value for the customer
- Long development time – A limited prototype of a configurator can be developed with little effort, but it will take considerable time and resources to implement a complete configurator with all products and variants included
The CPC approach for developing and implementing a configuration system is based on acquiring a full overview of the product families that should be included. This will clarify whether there is a need for carrying out a preliminary platform and architecture project, as a more modular realization of the product family will improve preconditions for successful implementation of a configuration system.
CPC tools for successful development and implementation of a configuration system:
- Product Family Master Plan (PFMP) – Schematic overview of a product family that represents the basis for describing the products and the rules to implement in the configuration system
- Configuration architecture – A schematic representation of the configuration model structure that will account for both the configuration system structure and the product structure
- CRC cards – The Class Responsibility Collaboration (CRC) card is a formal way of describing the rules to be defined in the configuration system.
- Scenarios – A powerful tool for describing and reviewing how the configuration process will be carried out. Scenarios describe the quotation, the configuration and the ordering process from order entry to order shipment.
- Fast track – A detailed description of how fast track orders (preferred solutions) can be executed even faster than the rest of the product range.
CPC is experienced in the successful implementation of configuration systems for global companies, i.e. companies with global markets, global sales channels and sourcing and factories all over the world.
Typical effects from configuration projects:
- Higher order hit-rate – Faster quotation response time to customer inquiries leads to significant increase of the order hit-rate
- More focused sales – Sales shifted from “one-of-a-kind” customer-designed solutions to successfully selling more profitable preferred solutions
- Better pricing and costing – A configuration system makes it possible to calculate price and cost in advance, ensuring that products are sold at the right price
- Transparent monitoring of sales – A configuration system using an integrated quotation system makes it possible to do automated reporting – on a weekly or monthly basis – on sales volume, price levels, cost levels, and other determined factors. This can be done for individual sales engineers, different markets, or different factories
- Higher quote and order quality – The quality of quotes and orders is much higher with an automated configuration, quotation, and ordering system
Contact CPC to learn how a custom configuration system can improve your quotation process and result in improved sales.