The Basics Of Configuration Replacement

If you’ve been using a configurator solution to simplify the process of selling complex product configurations, you may have reached the point where your existing solution is not providing the quality of results you expect. After all, even the best software solutions have limited life expectancies. In order to ensure you continue getting your money’s worth, it’s crucial to identify when the time is right to upgrade or replace your configurator solution, pick the right kind of configurator product to replace it, and manage the migration with the least amount of disruption possible. This post will provide details on each of these points.

Knowing When to Replace Your Configurator Solution

Of course, in order to ensure a successful configurator replacement project, it’s important to change your existing solution at the right time, and for the right reasons. If you choose to replace your configurator even though there’s no valid reason for doing so, you’ll only be bringing unnecessary costs and complexity into your business.

In order to identify if a change is needed, start by making a list of the requirements you think are important in a configurator solution. After doing this, you can send a request for information (RFI) to configurator vendors, in order to determine how well these new solutions could meet your requirements. Then, compare the results of the RFI with how well your existing solution meets those requirements. If you determine that there’s little difference between how well your existing solution meets those requirements and how well a replacement solution would, you can safely hold off on upgrading — for now. However, if you decide there is a real advantage to upgrading, move forward.

Select the Right Kind of Configurator for Your business

Even after you’ve determined that your existing configurator solution is no longer getting the job done, picking a new replacement solution can be a complicated process. This is because there is no universally accepted standard for what kind of features and capabilities must be included in configuration software. In fact, configurators fall into four main categories, and understanding the distinctions between these categories is key to selecting the solution that’s right for your business.

The types of configurators are as follows:

Knowledge-based engineering (KBE) solutionsKBE solutions are primarily used for large and complex projects that have an engineer involved throughout design and manufacturing. They are always integrated with a CAD application.

  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) module: A configurator that’s part of an ERP solution, rather than a standalone solution. These modules usually aren’t a good choice for very complex product configurations.
  • Product visualization solutionsThese are used in instances where the user needs to be able to see the product as it’s being configured.
  • Enterprise product configurator: A complete standalone application that combines features and capabilities of the three other types of configurators described above.

Managing Your Configurator Replacement

After completing the preliminary legwork, it’s time to move forward with deploying the new configurator solution. Although some degree of cost and disruption is unavoidable when rolling out new software, there are certain steps you can take to make the process as painless as possible. For instance, some configurator vendors are able to help you re-use the business rules from your existing product. This removes the need for you to start from scratch with the new solution, and can help streamline the migration process.

In addition, it’s important to plan ahead and lay the appropriate groundwork before deploying your new solution. This includes undertaking employee training, in order to make sure that your team is prepared to hit the ground running with the new solution when the time comes.

Ron Mouw is the Sales Director, CPQ at Autodesk Configure One. Autodesk, Inc. is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software.