Vendor Selection Checklist - For Sales and Product Configurators
Vendor Selection ChecklistFor Sales and Product ConfiguratorsWHITE PAPERCincom In-depth Analysis and Review S I M P L I F I C AT I O N T H R O U G H I N N O VAT I O N ®
Executive Summary K Global presence – Look for an established global vendor that is well-capitalized.Choosing the correct sales and product configurator canbe a daunting task. Complex products, services, and K Vertical domain expertise – The configurator vendorprocesses can contain hundreds of thousands of that you choose should have expertise in your industry.possibilities. To be effective, the sales and product Ask about best-practice templates so you can gleanconfigurator solution needs to: from the experiences of others in your industry. K Horizontal expertise – Some smaller best-of-breed• Simplify and streamline the front-office processes providers only have expertise in the front office. Make• Empower the knowledge worker and channel partners sure to choose a configurator provider that has• Be flexible enough to model your products and expertise in both the front office and back office. processes K Analyst recommendations – Seek the advice of analyst• Enable your customers by being “easy to buy from” firms such as AMR Research, Gartner Group, Forrester and others, yet do not rely on a single analystThe decision to buy a sales and product configurator recommendation to make the decision. Ultimatelyshould be examined from the following perspectives: customer references matter most in your specific industry.Configurator Company Viability Implementation MethodologyThe configurator market is divided into two main groups:large vendors (such as SAP or Oracle) and smaller best-of- Software implementation alone does not guaranteebreed companies. After numerous acquisitions, the larger business results. Ensure that the vendor can help youvendors will often have a dizzying array of configuration, through the following critical stages of deployment:quoting, and workflow management tools. Thesetechnologies may or may not integrate with the parent K Transformation planning – Define a cohesive quote-company’s tools. to-order strategy and ensure organizational alignment required to streamline processes and sales tools acrossBest-of-breed vendors have the advantage of being able the enterprise, and create a roadmap toto go deep into process areas and excel at providing implementation.solutions to them. In summary, the sales and product K Transition planning – Establish a comprehensiveconfigurator provider should have the following project plan that delivers a predictible return oncharacteristics: investment and mitigates risk prior to implementation. K Implementation – Templated services offerings that are tailored to your specific project needs ranging from training and support and resource augmentation to turnkey project delivery. Project Management Phase Planning Definition Analysis Design Develop Test Implementation CloseDeliverables Project Plan Requirements Functional Detailed Installation Final User Specification Design Code, Conversion Specification Configured Verification Documents Specification Scripts System and Model Library System Design Support System Test Final Support Training Conversion Training Configuration Specification Results Class Document System Test Classes Documents Plan Conversion Final Test Post Project Training Plan Specification Results Review Minutes Customer Acceptance Test PlanFigure 1: Sales and Product Configurator Implementation Methodology
Technology Choices K Multiple mode deployment – The sales and product configurator should be able to deploy the sameNever before have there been so many technology and configuration model in multiple modes at the samedeployment options. The technology choice needs to time (web, mobile, hosted, on-premise, or SaaS).support the future strategic direction of your company andneeds to be flexible to easily adjust to changes. K Flexible modeling environment with hybrid rules engine – This will handle the most complex ETOThe application features and application architecture will products and processes without requiring expertdetermine how easy the sales and product configurator is programmers.to use and especially how easy the changes are to make. K Support for nested configuration constraints –Some vendors have an inflexible, “get it all right the first Companies that deliver engineer-to-order solutions ortime and forever” architecture. If the business model systems require the ability to define constraints ofchanges, programmers will need to spend significant time subassemblies as part of a broader project. Check torebuilding the model. make sure this has been delivered as part of an actualIn reality, there is no “one and done” approach to customer implementation.implementing a sales and product configurator. Your K Pre-emptive compatibility rules that prevent the userbusiness model will change, and you need to have an from making an invalid selection. A robust constraintarchitecture that will “flex” and be agile enough to keep engine can represent thousands of business rules withup with your changing business model requirements. a minimal number of constraints.Below are items that should be considered in thetechnology. K Knowledge gaps – The modeling environment should automatically highlight missing and incorrect rules.K Easy integration with CRM/ERP – The technology should provide out-of-the-box integration with your K Dynamic data and process integration with existing CRM, ERP, CAD and other systems. Look for systems, databases, and web services as configuration technologies such as XML and Web Services expertise. models execute.K Easy integration with line-of-business applications – K Graphical view of knowledge (figure 2) that allows an The technology should have easy integration with the inexperienced user to easily make changes and user’s applications. For Microsoft users, this includes visualize the missing knowledge! MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server) and Microsoft Office. Training will be minimal, and user adoption rates will be high.Figure 2: A graphical view of knowledge allows an inexperienced user to easily make changes and to visualize the missing knowledge!