Beating the Deadline: How e-Con Makes Quote through Delivery a Team Process
Here’s sales manager Bjorn, having a friendly beer with a customer who’s been transformed from the Dreaded Special Order Due in 3 Days into a walking marketing campaign for Bjorn’s manufacturing company. The customer is a brilliant guy, who’s been behind adding those special touches to new homes that makes for killer sales—and his ideas usually start out as a sketch on a napkin that he hands to Bjorn and says, “It’s just our standard order for door knobs but see how making the knob this shape changes everything? You can do it by the end of the week, right? I only need 50.”
Before e-Con: Sweating the Revised Configuration
Just a year ago, Bjorn would say, “We’re on it!” and take some notes, then make a beeline back to the office so that he could spend several hours changing the standard order, wince when he saw that this “minor” change would involve procurement, designers, product managers, accounting…and the company was either going to need to swallow some hefty overhead or risk losing the customer, who would expect just a twinkle of extra cost. And to try and make things easier, Bjorn was in for a graveyard shift at the office looking up vendors who had the special parts needed, reworking calculations, wincing when he realized that the change to the standard model involved dozens of variations he couldn’t locate in his sales catalog… and on and on.
With e-Con: Configuration Cool-Down
Tonight, Bjorn’s got e-Con in his satchel, muscled up in his iPad and ready for real-time work, because the restaurant has a wireless connection. “Love the napkin,” he says. “Let’s wrap it around the iPad and get this ready to go now. A few more details. . .” And then e-Con takes over. He and the customer revisit the configuration for the standard order, and Bjorn can identify in minutes the options that need to be revised and the special parts that need ordering. The customer’s impressed because he can see the configuration take shape as a drawing, get a better understanding of what’s going to change, and watch Bjorn work with cost calculations and discounts—and who doesn’t love a discount? Bjorn quickly adds line items to the quote and records ad-hoc notes from the customer to make sure all teams are clear about the details. Some extra taps on the touch pad and the quote shoots over to the ERP system as an order that’s ready to process, complete with an auto-generated bill of materials and routing that will let all teams know what they need to do the next morning. “Let’s call this a new deal,” says the customer. “All favors should be returned, eh?”
And the Ending we Like: On-Time, Within Budget
And here goes the next morning: All the information, even the notes that used to be sticky tabs, is in the ERP system. Design engineers check the specs, and then get the data they need from the central database everyone uses. They’ve got search filters and can drag and drop data and revised tables into e-Con—and vice versa if that’s how they want to work. In the meantime, the back office has lined up the special parts for same-day delivery and sent out the Bill of Materials and routings so that everyone’s on the same page . There are details we won’t go into in this brief tale, but the result is that production gets its specs and knows exactly what they can do until the special parts arrive. The flow is completely integrated, and what emerges on deadline and within budget is a set of handsome door knobs that Bjorn’s company even installs. Let’s give our configurator the last word—a summary of the project that gives all teams 5 stars. And once again, a happy customer. We’ll let him take care of home sales. On to the next order!