Varianten im Variantenmanagement

Effective variant management for successful products

One product and more than 10,000 variants. What is mostly unknown in the B2C sector is already part of daily business in the B2B sector. Mastering this variety of individual customer requirements economically is the highest art of variant management. Find out what advantages and challenges variant management offers your company. How to get started with successful variant management in just 6 steps.

Table of contents

What is variant management?

Variant management enables the economic fulfilment of customer needs by optimising products and services. The aim is to improve production processes by reducing the number of variants without ignoring customer requirements.

What does variant management include?

Variant management includes the creation of variant configurations, the definition of standard components and the creation of production plans. It offers many benefits by increasing the company’s flexibility and adaptability, improving the quality and reliability of products and services, minimising costs and risks and increasing customer satisfaction.

For which industries is variant management particularly important?

The following industries benefit particularly from variant management due to a high number of product variants:

  • Plant engineering
  • Building elements and technical building equipment
  • Equipment and apparatus manufacturers
  • Component manufacturer
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Medicine and medical technology

Advantages of variant management

Variant management offers companies a wide range of opportunities. However, the benefits are often underestimated by companies.

Variant management can help to stabilise or expand market shares by offering customised products at low cost. In this way, a unique position in the market can be achieved. In the following, we will show you the advantages that successful variant management can bring to your company:


Increased customer satisfaction

By adapting your products to the individual needs of your customers, you provide your customers with exactly what they need. As a result, customer satisfaction increases. Satisfied customers complain less and are happy to recommend you to others. This has a positive effect on your sales figures.


Variant management increases profitability

One of the main advantages of variant management is the reduction of costs by minimising the number of variants produced. By modularising and standardising components, production costs are significantly reduced, while production efficiency is increased by optimising the use of resources such as machine time and material.

The rapid availability of products enables you to deliver within the shortest possible time. This responsiveness to fluctuating market demand gives you a competitive advantage.


Increase product quality

With the help of variant management, you improve the quality of your products by establishing a systematic procedure for planning, controlling and documenting product changes. This avoids misunderstandings and errors in product development and keeps everyone involved informed about the current product versions.

The use of standard components and tested variant configurations ensures that only reliable components are used. This increases the quality of the products.

Challenges of variant management

In addition to the benefits of variant management, there are also challenges to consider. It can be difficult to keep track of all product variants and their characteristics. Controlling production and meeting delivery deadlines can become more complicated when there is a large number of variants.

These challenges should be considered before implementation:

  • Costs: The introduction and operation of variant management involves costs. These include, for example, the purchase of software or the training of employees.
  • Time: Variant management can be time-consuming. This is especially true if many people or departments are involved and numerous approval and documentation steps are required.
  • Complexity: The more variants there are, the more complex management becomes. It is important to focus on the most relevant variants and not to increase the administrative burden excessively.
  • Limiting innovation potential: Focusing on existing variants can limit the company’s innovation potential. It is important to have sufficient resources to develop new ideas and concepts.

It depends on the specific requirements and goals of your company whether variant management makes sense and what disadvantages may be associated with it. It is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and ensure that the benefits of variant management outweigh the disadvantages.


The challenge of variant management?
We will find a solution!

We support you in testing and introducing variant management for your company and optimise it according to your needs.

Methods for improved variant management

There are various methods for meeting the challenges of variant management.

One of them is modularisation, in which products are broken down into individual modules that can in turn be offered in different variants. For example, in the case of a car, the wheel rims, the engine and the navigation system can be offered as separate modules, which the customer can combine according to his wishes.

Another possibility is standardisation, which tries to standardise as many product components as possible in order to reduce complexity. For example, in the case of a smartphone, most components such as the processor, display or battery can be the same for all models and only vary in a few features. This minimises the complexity of the products already in the planning phase. This also includes considering whether certain product variants make economic sense at all and should be offered.

Learn more about our variant management method.


6 steps to successful variant management

The introduction of successful variant management requires thorough planning and organisation. To ensure that all necessary information and resources are available and that the processes run efficiently, we recommend the following steps:

Step 1: Define the goal and benefit of variant management.

What do you want to achieve with variant management and how will it help your company to improve or gain competitive advantage?

When introducing variant management, consider the most relevant goals and benefits for your company in order not to lose focus.

Step 1 of 6
  • Increasing the flexibility and adaptability of the company: Variant management enables you to react more quickly to changing market requirements and develop appropriate products or services.
  • Improve the quality and reliability of products and services: By managing variants in a structured way, you can ensure that all necessary tests are carried out and requirements are met to guarantee the quality and reliability of your offerings.
  • Reduce costs and risks: By managing variants, you can avoid duplication of work and errors, thus minimising costs and risks.
  • Increase customer satisfaction: By offering variants that are tailored to customers’ needs and requirements, you can increase customer satisfaction.

Step 2: Identify relevant stakeholders and involve them in the process

It is important to involve all relevant stakeholders in the process so that their needs and requirements are taken into account and they can identify with variant management.

Step 2 of 6

Stakeholders are all persons or groups who are affected by or have an interest in the decisions and activities of variant management. Examples of stakeholders are employees, customers, suppliers, partner companies and authorities.
One way to involve stakeholders in the process is to hold workshops or interviews to gather their requirements and perspectives.
Regular communication and transparency in the process also help to engage stakeholders in variant management.

Step 3: Create a variant roadmap to stay on track

A variant roadmap is a plan that defines how you will develop and manage your variants. It helps you set the long-term goals and strategic approach to variant management and identify the resources and steps required to achieve them.

Step 3 of 6

When creating a variant roadmap, you should consider factors such as market demand, technical requirements and resource availability. For example, you can specify which variants should be developed and in what order, how long the development will take and what resources will be needed. It is also useful to set milestones and interim targets to track the progress of the process and ensure that you stay on track.

A variant roadmap can be drawn up in the form of a project plan. It should be reviewed and adapted regularly to ensure that it is always up-to-date and relevant.

Step 4: Use suitable software

There are a variety of software tools on the market that support variant management. These include, for example, platforms for product configuration, systems for document and change management or tools for monitoring and controlling processes.

We advise you on the right way to deal with the topic of variant management. In addition, we can offer you variant management software tailored to your needs.

Step 4 of 6

Step 5: Define processes and procedures

Determine how you will develop, approve, implement and manage variants. Consider how you will document and communicate changes to variants. It may be helpful to create a set of rules or a process guide to define all the necessary steps and responsibilities. Ensure that all stakeholders are aware of and follow the processes and procedures.

Step 5 of 6

Step 6: Monitor and optimise the process

Regularly review how variant management is working and optimise it if necessary. Ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the current processes and procedures.

It can be helpful to hold regular meetings or reviews to monitor the progress and results of variant management and identify opportunities for improvement. Collecting feedback and analysing data can also help to optimise variant management.

Step 6 of 6

When does variant management make sense for your company?

The advantages of variant management usually outweigh the disadvantages when one or more of the following criteria are met:

  • The company operates in a market that is changing rapidly and where customer needs and requirements vary.
  • The company offers complex products or services with many options and customisation possibilities.
  • The company wants to improve the quality and reliability of its products and services and avoid errors.
  • The company wants to minimise costs and risks by avoiding duplication and errors.
  • The company wants to increase customer satisfaction through customised quotations.

However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and ensure that variant management delivers the benefits.

Conclusion: Variant management is a competitive factor

The benefit of variant management for companies lies in the increase of competitiveness. It can help stabilise or expand market shares by offering customised products that increase customer satisfaction. In this way, a unique position is achieved.

Modularisation and standardisation of components can reduce production costs and increase efficiency by optimising the use of resources such as machine time and material. The result is a minimisation of the complexity of products already in the planning phase.

Product variants also bring challenges. Therefore, it is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages. This is how you ensure that variant management delivers the benefits.


Do you need support in variant management?

We support you in testing and introducing variant management for your company and optimise it according to your needs.

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