Which product configurator to choose?

configuratore di prodotto, quale scegliere

"A configurator is what do for us": it have surely happened to you to think, listen, or even pronounce this sentence. But are you sure you know what is really best for you?

What it is, what it is for, who it is for

It is easy to say "configurator", but it is enough to look on the web to realize how many meanings this term has now assumed: in fact there are now many types of configurators that the market makes available, each aimed at achieving a specific objective.

A configurator, in fact, is the solution for anyone who feels the need to standardize the flow of commercial offers, or for those who want to realize a product configuration in a guided manner, which is oriented to offer or design. "Standardize the flow", however, does not mean that configurators are suitable only for standard products: this is an old legacy that comes from "wrong" configurators. A modern configurator should help the company also in managing the complexity that comes from the *special products.

The current historical context presents more and more obstacles for the companies: costs that increase, scarcity of raw materials, difficulty in the reordering of the components, long wait for the supply against demands of fast delivery.
In this context, relying on a configurator leads to countless benefits:

  • allows you to configure the product, immediately evaluating the feasibility of a request: in an instant you can have the offer, costs and delivery times
  • demand for special products is now the normality and companies are increasingly geared towards meeting customer wishes. A modern configurator should also notice that a seemingly special request is actually something that has been handled in the past.
  • the configurator becomes strategic to align business rules making business scalable and making it easier to acquire new customers.

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The Commercial Configurator, for friends "CPQ - Configure Price Quote”

An elephant memory and the dear old paper price list are the most loyal companions of a self-respecting trader, but if you want to expand the network of your sellers/dealers you can not rely only on these two tools.
The offer configurator was created to facilitate the salesman in providing the customer with an accurate, error-free and immediate proposal. A CPQ solution must enable you to propose the right product for your needs while respecting the constraints you are asking for (technical and economic).
An offer configurator should carry these advantages:

  • bring you to a product configuration sewn on your needs minimizing errors related to a imperfect product knowledge
  • keep the sales force up to date with the latest catalogue news
  • allow to generate documents of offer following a layout ready-made by the company, with images faithful to the choices made and with a technical specification retrieved automatically and without typos
  • obtain offer documents multi-currency and multilingual based on price lists, templates that you need to be able to manage with ease

However, the offer configurator should not simply produce the economic price. It should also be linked to the entire commercial flow from opportunity to proposal, from the revision of the offer to the sales order: this is why configurator and CRM must speak to each other, when they are not already one.
But a modern commercial configurator goes beyond the offer document and should be able to produce the bill, the real-time product costing based on the processing cycles, ... The results of the configuration can be presented to the customer in 3D and 2D even before the technical department has been involved.

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Errors to avoid when choosing a Commercial Configurator

If you were asked to think about an offer configurator ready to immediately buffer the needs of your company, what is the first thing you would think? If you have thought about Spreadsheet then you are in the absolute majority.

The problem is right here: you start to give a buffer response, but then you end up building a more complex system than the one that governs a space mission. One gets tangled up in abstruse rules with an insane number of grafted and illegible conditions, with functions that should be banned by mankind such as the "Vertical Search", with a system that without its creator becomes difficult to maintain, anarchist and poorly suited to be distributed. That said, Spreadsheets remains an excellent data entry tool and a good starting point, but it should be used in the right way: basically it should be used and not abused, it is a tool and not the solution.

Another common mistake is to think of the commercial configurator as a pure automation system of the offer. And since the offer is realized on the ERP you are led to believe that the absolute best configurator is that of the ERP, where we already find customers, price lists and where no integrations are needed. It’s a natural and understandable thought, but sometimes a little short-sighted. In fact, these are often configurators that cover the initial need but that cannot go further. Tomorrow, in addition to the offer and bill of materials, you will want to produce diagrams, manuals, layouts... and certain initial choices preclude these possibilities. Not to mention the fact that configurators often have to reach a network of users that goes far beyond the perimeter of those who are the normal users of the management system.