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.


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!

___

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!

___

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!

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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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Customization doesn’t bring efficiencies

September 17, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: configurable products and services

Being a “customizer” doesn’t create efficiencies. More often than not, customization brings tremendous inefficiencies in sales, order administration, engineering, manufacturing operations, service, etc.

  • Your team is forever chasing experts to answer and resolve normal, routine configurability questions that arise.
  • You require significant human intervention to accommodate complexity and variety simply because information isn’t available–the business isn’t set up properly.
  • Your team is challenged to pull together quotes for products and services that can actually be delivered.
  • Your team is challenged by the fact that nothing is standard; everything is a special.

Companies must evolve their business processes to cost-effectively meet the challenges product and service complexity bring. If customizers don’t take action to improve efficiencies, they will continue to suffer margin and operational challenges that only mount.

Failure to address these challenges will keep you and your company from thriving.

Thought for the week:

“Don’t confuse enthusiasm with commitment.” – Paul J. Silvia

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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Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 19MAR12

March 19, 2012

“Thank God It’s Monday” is to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: configurable products and services

Why is it so many companies that offer configurable products and services are so ill-equipped to deal with the customer-facing side of the business? Here are 3 key reasons:
  • When the business started, the focus was on the product, not on how products would be configured, priced and quoted–the processes never caught up
  • The inefficiencies and operational challenges are seen as a “cost of doing business”
  • Your ERP system is optimized for a different business paradigm: mass production

The result is margin leaks–margin leaks amounting to 3% or more of revenues. How much is that costing your company year after year in real dollars?

What if you could add 3% or more to your bottom line? How would that change the valuation of your business? How would more effective processes favorably impact customer relationships and your customer’s experiences?

The cost of correcting these problems is trivial compared to the annualized cost of the problem. Solving this problem will help you and your company thrive.

[Note: Here are self-assessment tools to help you determine where your company stands.]

Thought for the week:

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” – George S. Patton

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.