Resolve Versioning Issues with a Product Configurator

Resolve Versioning Issues with a Product Configurator

 Producing and selling products involve multiple stakeholders and teams across the supply chain. Success depends on your ability to provide goods that keep up with customer demand and competitor offerings. Simply put, you need to be ready to create new versions for models, configurations, and results. You’ve also got to be sure that everyone involved knows they’re working with correct versions, or you’ll have a tangle of errors and delays, not to mention frustrated managers, employees, vendors, and customers. A product configurator that can help you manage versions effectively is the one you’ll get the most benefit from. Let’s look at the challenges in context, and see how e-Con can resolve versioning issues that impact efficiency, accuracy, and customer satisfaction.

Scenario: We’re replacing aluminum with carbon—does everyone know?

Let’s take a relatively “slow” cycle of change as an example. You’ve been producing a particular bicycle line with an aluminum frame, and you know from customer and competitor research that carbon is fast becoming the frame of choice. Management makes the decision to replace aluminum with carbon. Design and engineering need to create a new version for the bike configuration. Cost and time calculations need to be modified for production and delivery. Sales needs to keep straight that aluminum is no longer available for new quotes, but can be used for in-process or existing quotes and orders. There’s more, and all the disparate data needs to come together so that new versions are clearly separate from older versions. At the same time, there needs to be access to the older version—it can’t just be wiped from the system.

How e-Con “frames” the new version and the old version for the model

e-Con takes the bundle of complex information, ensures that it is centralized and easily accessible, and through check-in check-out capabilities, ensures that stakeholders create the new model version in an orderly way. Two designers can’t record configuration information that might conflict. If a database version of a model is checked out by one user, it won’t be accessible to another until it is checked back in. At that point, another user can check out the model, make their changes, and check it back in. The centralized version is accurate, updates spread across the entire system, and all teams work with a single version of the truth. e-Con also makes it much easier to manage the use of versions once the new version is complete and eady for use.

Life cycle management: older versions still in database

Because e-Con offers life cycle management, the older version can still be maintained in the database. This is particularly important when you’re working with existing or in-process quotes and orders—for example, if you have an existing customer who wants to continue to use the aluminum frame model for their existing quotes and orders, that older version can be pulled up and used for the quote through production process.  To make the process even easier for sales reps, you can set up a prompt for sales that asks what version they want to use if they’re working with outstanding orders or exiting customers.

You also have the ability to set rules that define when the new version should be used, without confusing sales reps or creating update errors. For example, if a modeler can decide to add a carbon frame to the ‘frame options’ and to make the aluminum frame ‘invalid’. Users will get a message with an explanation of this new frame option. This will ensure that there will be no mistakes.

Using tightly controlled model versioning and model life cycle management, you can ensure that you produce the right products, that all stakeholders work with the same version for updates or changes, and that customers always get the products they want. Information is never lost. Users are clear about what’s old, what’s new, and which version is the right one for the customer.

Versions of configurations

e-Con allows also to copy a configuration result to a new version. For example: a customer is requesting the bike with another frame size and other set of wheels. These changes can be done by just modifying the configuration. However e-Con also allows to create a new version of this configuration and add the requested changes to the new version. As a result two versions exist of this configuration allowing to track changes done. Sales rep can review version 1 at any time to view details of that version. e-Con even allows to reactivate a previous version when the customer wants to stick with his original quote.

Versioning is one of many capabilities that lets e-Con offer the ideal balance of speed, quality, and accuracy for sales and product configuration. 

 

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