How to handle complexity in product configuration development

Developing a product configurator can be challenging due to the many design decisions along the way. Two of the most critical aspects that impact implementation time and skill requirements are:

  • Implementation strategy for the rules in the configurator
  • Skill level of the intended user

That is why we have put together some examples to help you determine the complexity level based on the approach you take to the configuration, and hopefully guide you in the way you tackle your development project.

Project plan Template – CPQ implementation

When creating your first product configurator that should help sales, distributors and even customers to configure products and request quotes there are many ways how to tackle the implementation project.

We have therefore created a generic project plan to be used as a template (see below) targeted towards manufacturing companies. To avoid ending up with a long and costly IT project that isn’t used by anyone we have divided the project into a series of steps to maximize the chances of success and to get value of the implementation as soon as possible (start to use the implementation already after step 2).

Read our general guidelines on project planning and then fill out your own product specific deliverables and delimitations under each step in the Word (.docx) file that you can download below. This will help you to get an overview and to create time estimates of each step.

If you use a modern CPQ solution together with a parametric CAD-visualization tool like DynaMaker our experience is that each project step (1 – 7) will usually require around 40 hours of work for an expert with experience with CPQ implementing a product of average compexlity. And step 8 and 9 can be added multiple times depending on how many product configurators you are planning to implement.

Steps to implement CPQ

  1. Pilot project – Always start with a pilot to investigate, analyze, prototype and find the best way forward
  2. Internal product configurator – So that sales can start configuring, driving sales and giving feedback
  3. Product visualization with configurator – So that sales can see whats beeing configured
  4. Automatic generation of technical documents – To save time for sales and to clarify for the client
  5. Public product configurator for homepage – Enabling distributors and customers to also configure and quote
  6. Auto generation of Quote document – To save time for sales
  7. Enable external administration of quotations – To save time for sales and engage distributors / clients
  8. Add next product configurator (step 2 – 4) – To increase sales
  9. Add more details to existing product configurator (step 2 – 3) – To increase sales

Download template below for goals, generic deliverables and delimitations for each step

Separating configuration rules from inputs

When working with complex configuration its usually hard to separate visible input fields and variables from hidden rules and formulas. A product expert usually relies on experience when configuring a product, instead of strict rules and formulas. But when anyone should be able to use a product configurator the complexity needs to be greatly reduced, resulting in the requirement of a limited set of easy to understand input fields and a extensive set of hidden formulas that captures all the rules.

Customer journey – Questionnaire for B2B products with quotations

When working with changes in the sales process its essential to have a clear view of the customer journey. Therefore we have created a short questionnaire for some of the basic questions that the sales team should discuss and try to answer.

This can result in a list with the typical steps to a closed deal that can be used when discussing changes.

Common User Stories for B2B CPQ

When developing new products and solutions for others its always good to have some kind of description on what the intended users might want to do with the solution. A good way to handle this is to create a list of numbered User Stories that can be referenced and used for discussion throughout the project.

We have collected a few common user stories here that apply for online configurable products where the users should be able to customize and request quotation themselves without prior knowledge of the product.

Building & Interior – B2B sales process

As a B2B company supplying products such as windows, doors, interior or similar to larger building projects, the journey to a closed deal is long and complex, but it usually follows the same pattern. In this article, we have created a template that can help you create your own process and decide on how your digital sales tools should support it.