Executing A Configurable Product Strategy

June 22, 2015

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If your company manufacturers capital equipment or systems, I’d like you to pause for a moment and seriously consider how easy it is to:

  • Create a quote
  • Book a clean order
  • Plan the materials for an order
  • Build the order
  • Install the order
  • Support the order
  • Know that the order will be profitable

For most companies, there is a big need for improvement. Is your company in that situation?

Do you need help making the complex simple? I can help you with this.

Photo Credit: Alison Christine, Flickr.com

Thought for the week:

“Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I will learn.” – Confucius
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2015 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Getting Configurable Product Orders Right

December 1, 2014

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A reader wrote: “My company has configurable products and we are having problems getting the right parts delivered to support installation of the customers’ orders. What ideas do you have to resolve this?”

The first question I would ask is did the process for shipping custom, configurable orders ever work well? If you answer “yes,” then you need to ask yourself “what changed?” If you answer “no,” then it would be clear you never had a working process and that is your starting point.

If something in the process changed, you need to take action to bring the process back into compliance so it works properly and is repeatable.

If nothing changed, you need to create and follow a process that ensures you are shipping the right parts to complete the order.

If the answer you receive is, “it’s too hard to do it right,” then I encourage you to look at the problem through the eyes of your customers and/or dealers. If your customers and/or dealers are experiencing challenges satisfying the customer the first time, that negatively impacts your brand reputation.

When order execution goes poorly, people talk about it. If you don’t believe that, just look at Yelp, Facebook or Twitter to see how brand reputations become tarnished. Companies delivering a poor customer experience aren’t long for this world.

Finally, you may need to innovate your current process to meet the needs of your business if variety and complexity has gone beyond the capabilities of your current systems and processes. This is how you accelerate growth.

Photo Courtesy of John Hritz on Flickr

Thought for the week:

Heard through @coryedwards
81: The % of US consumers that say that it is important that brands make my life easier.#DigitalDopamine from @razorfish
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Make It Easy And Simple

August 26, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: make it easy and simple

One of the lines in my “why” I’m in business statement is:

ease and simplicity replace frustration and complexity

If something in your business is frustrating and has far more complexity than it should, the one question you have to ask yourself is when are you going to tackle that issue so you can create ease and simplicity for everyone impacted?

I helped a client with a front-end sales process for a highly-configurable product. It would take 1-3 hours on the phone to configure, price and quote a customized product. The CEO said they’d been living with this issue for 20 years. The pain wasn’t just on the customer side. It would take months to train new sales people to handle those calls.

Which areas should you consider for making it simple? Any customer facing area that has either more frustration or complexity than it should. Where are customers experiencing pain dealing with your company?

  • Getting quotations
  • Booking orders
  • Executing orders correctly and on time
  • Post-sales customer service and support
  • Ensuring that any and all customer expectations are properly set and met

If you take action to eliminate important areas of frustration and complexity with ease and simplicity, this will accelerate your company’s growth.

Thought for the week:

“The project that most scares you is the project you should do first.”  – Robin Sharma
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Super Bowl 47 Winners and Losers

February 4, 2013

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: Super Bowl 47 Winners and Losers

Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens for a terrific season and Super Bowl victory. Well played.

Winners: Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson & The Sandy Hook Choir, the Jeep ad with Oprah Winfrey honoring those who serve in the military, the Dodge Ram ad with the late Paul Harvey honoring farmers, the Best Buy ad with Amy Poehler, the Budweiser Clydesdale ad, and, finally, the Taco Bell ad about senior citizens partying. Bravo!

Losers: San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans power grid.

The Big Loser: Go Daddy for an uncomfortable, pointless, brand-damaging ad. I’m no prude, but personal displays of affection such as that depicted in this commercial are despicable and made me and my wife cringe. I turned away from the TV. In working with a client last year, I found Go Daddy to be professional and competent. This ad undermines Go Daddy and its brand. While Go Daddy’s goal may have been to get people talking about their brand, I’m not sure they will get a positive outcome they were looking for. They certainly face an uphill battle attracting female entrepreneurs to use their services. And, I wouldn’t use them for any reason.

So, some advertisers thrived and others crashed and burned. And, so it is every Super Bowl.

Thought for the week:

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Althsuler

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2013 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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The Continuum For Configurable Products and Services

December 10, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: configurable products and services

There are few things based on absolutes. Most principles exist on a continuum. People with food allergies have varying degrees of adverse stimulus response to the same allergen. Customized, configurable products and services are no different–they, too, exist on a continuum.

Not every product or service has to be a 10 in terms of feature or option quantities or complexity to be successful in the marketplace. Providers of configurable products and services are in charge of setting and managing their own continuum.

The decision made today about how configurable to be doesn’t have to be set in stone. The continuum can change as the market changes and evolves or as your capabilities and ability to manage and offer configurability evolve.

Configurable product and service providers already know that they aren’t in a “one-size-fits-all” world. It follows then there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer about the degree to which your products and services have to be configurable. The key is to hit the marketplace sweet spot. This will help you thrive.

Thought for the week:

“Fear less, hope more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Hate less, love more;
And all good things are yours.”
– Swedish proverb 

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Scaling Business for Configurable Products and Services

November 12, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: configurable products and services

If your company offers configurable products or services that are complicated to sell, you will lose out on sales opportunities and, ultimately, undermine growth if you don’t have an appropriate guided selling solution.

Too many companies view selling inefficiencies as a “cost of doing business” and fail to address this need before the company hits the wall. The issue boils down to being able to efficiently configure, price and quote based on a customer’s unique requirements using configurator tools provided. If it’s too hard, too complex, or takes a disproportionate amount of selling time, your sales team and channel will not invest the time and energy.

How do you know here are storm clouds on the horizon? Subject-matter experts are required to hand-hold sales, dealers and/or customers through the configure-price-quote process. You rely on people rather than an appropriate tools. Your current process isn’t scalable and won’t perform as the business grows.

If your company is acquired by a company, the acquiring company and its channel partners may quickly turn-off to selling your product undermining the growth potential and value for both companies if you haven’t provided an appropriate guided selling solution. Remember, in a large, diverse company, your value proposition is but a few line items of a larger company’s offerings. You compete for mind share. If you make it easy, you win. If it’s hard, you lose.

If you are experiencing these challenges, isn’t it time you invested in correcting this so you, your dealers and sales people can thrive?

Thought for the week:

“This Veterans Day (November 11th), let’s thank all those who have served our nation in uniform and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.” – U.S. Senator John McCain

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What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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HP Reeling from Oct12 Shareholder/Analyst Call

October 4, 2012

Wall Street and analysts are reeling from HP’s Shareholder/Analyst call yesterday. The stock hit a 9-year low yesterday. Meg Whitman and HP are signaling it’s going to be another couple of years before the company is back on track. That’s astounding.

I have to ask at what point in the last decade was HP truly “on track?” What does “on track” look like?  I don’t think HP really knows.  HP simply knows it’s off track.

One quote stood out yesterday:

 When Todd Bradley took over the Printing and Personal Systems business, he was surprised to find that we made more than 2,100 laser printers. In every business, we’re going to benefit from focusing on a smaller number of offerings that we can invest in and really make matter. By the way, we have plans to cut those laser printer SKUs by about — by nearly 50% in 2013.

Cut it in half in 2013?  I can’t imagine the lack of economies and negative supply chain implication of having 2100 laser printer SKUs. This is an incredible number.  To think that they will have to continue with that number for the better part of another year is puzzling. And, to think they hope to only cut it in half in 2013 means they’ll still have over 1,000.

How about cutting it by 75-80% from the current 2100.  How about looking at a strategy to reduce the number of SKUs by modularizing the products?  This would mitigate supply chain and channel distribution issues.

There’s more that’s troubling.

  • For one, a “year” doesn’t need to be the smallest time unit for change to occur. In many businesses, a month or a quarter is sufficient to get a lot accomplished if people are motivated. HP needs to tighten up its timelines dramatically.
  • The longer it takes to make critical changes in a business, the less likely the things essential to moving the needle on the business  will occur. Where is the sense of urgency?
  •  HP leadership doesn’t have 2-3 years to ease into the changes. Investors won’t tolerate slow, steady progress. We’ll get another regime change and be right back talking about what needs to happen.
  • There is really no proof that HP knows what the right things to do are and has a plan to execute.
  • Cutting and downsizing–while necessary–won’t improve morale or the culture at HP. What is the plan to energize the team, customer, channel partners and the marketplace?

For too long, HP has just been going through the motions. What I heard yesterday is that will continue albeit with slightly more urgency.

Something’s got to give. I don’t think HP knows what that is yet. Where will HP be in a year?  Still stuck?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com