Digitisation as an opportunity for end-to-end variant management

Digitally integrated processes – from the product idea to productive use

Everyone is talking about digitisation, and people are continuously conjuring up new potential and new business models. encoway and our partner Odego see digitisation above all as a tremendous opportunity for variant management. Although - or even perhaps because – the digital age presents completely new challenges for end-to-end variant management, for example:

  • Responding to market requirements in an agile way.
  • Configuring customer-specific solutions with ease.
  • Delivering in the shortest possible time.
  • Providing quotes with competitive prices.
  • Reducing manufacturing and process costs despite customisation.

These are all basic requirements for processes that ensure effective and efficient processing.

Our consultancy approach: harnessing the full potential with digitally integrated processes

The full potential can only be unleashed if you design your products based on digitally integrated processes right from the start. The route to success starts in the portfolio planning phase and extends across product development, the entire value chain and the system landscape right up to the customer.

encoway und Odego therefore support their industry partners with a common approach to consulting – from the idea to productive use.

Take a look at your own numbers and discover some amazing things

It is best to learn from the past and start with a statistical sales figure analysis. Data mining methods will help you uncover some amazing and illuminating correlations. You will learn to understand which combinations you should avoid offering in the future in order to be able to ensure an efficient portfolio. You should tailor your portfolio structure to your segments. If you know your customers, you do not need to offer “absolutely everything”. Using these analyses, you will be able to regain the customer proximity that has been lost through digitisation.

Designing modular systems to suit configuration right from the start

Modular product structures are a basic prerequisite in order to be able to offer configurable products. The objective is to ensure more possible combinations and fewer restrictions. Finding the right module cut here requires clean modelling of the product family and the analysis and evaluation of a wide variety of module concepts. To achieve this, the components and rules of the modular system have to be created, varied and checked before the design stage. Configuration not only takes place in sales, but ideally is consistent throughout all the stages of the value chain. Only if the design, purchasing, production, sales and service departments successfully and effectively implement your new digital process with the developed modular system will the changeover succeed.

In order to achieve this, the module structure has to be designed right in the concept phase for the target processes of the value chain. The module cuts and variant creation points have to be visualised and designed interdepartmentally.

An end-to-end system landscape

The requirements for a product that has to be redesigned usually become apparent in the specifications. These are normally created as a text document and expanded in the second R&D stage so it can be called a specification. But now – let’s be honest!  Who will ever look at these documents again?

In real life, we continuously see information being lost early on in the process instead of being used at a later stage. And this means that enormous potential is also lost. The departments work independently and isolated from each other. And every department creates its own data base:

  • The technical data is created in the design phase, for example in CAD and PDM systems.
  • The logistical data is generated in the planning phase for the supply chain and production, for example in the ERP system. Configuration logic is often already available at this point.
  • The sales data is generated in time for the market launch, for example in PIM systems.
  • The (sales) configuration logic is also created for the market launch, for example in CPQ systems. Sometimes logistical rule sets are reused.

Those at the back of the process chain are at a disadvantage. The individual databases do not match. Data that is already available is newly entered and is thus recorded multiple times.

The findings from the data supply analysis 

lead to enormous savings potential

An analysis of the data supply process will unveil astonishing insights and lead to enormous savings potential. At the same time, an efficient data supply process is the enabler for digital product-related services.

Getting the product to the customer

A good product configurator guides the user to the variant they are looking for in the simplest possible way. The customer is not looking for product variety! They are looking for a singleproduct – the one that will solve their problem. Terms such as Guided Selling accurately describe this process.

The users have differing requirements: the salesperson wants to create and send a suitable quotation document, the end customer wants to compare products and order the right one directly. In addition, the users have different levels of knowledge; some know the products and their options, while others only know the problem they hope to solve. Ideally, these challenges can be mastered with modified presentations adapted to the user’s individual level of knowledge. With practical data models in an integrated system landscape, you are able to create the basis for a platform that enables quick and simple modifications to suit the various sales channels and the needs of the users without having to create modular structures, product data and rule sets multiple times.

The big picture – together we can achieve end-to-end variant management

The experts for modularisation and modular development at Odego have, together with encoway, developed a focused and comprehensive range of consulting services for companies in the components business, as well as in mechanical and plant engineering.

We lay the foundations for end-to-end variant management by working with our customers to create the big picture across all processes and departments. Both partners contribute their core competencies in a result-oriented way. Our consulting services are designed to ensure that you are able to achieve initial added value with just a few small steps – while at the same time always remaining on the right track for the major objective. Based on the principle:

Think big – start small – scale up!

Would you like to find out more? We look forward to hearing about your challenges!
Please feel free to contact us.

Dr. Thorsten Krebs, Head of Consulting, encoway GmbH, krebs@encoway.de,
(+49) 421 33003 - 564, (+49) 170 2125691

Dr. Sandra Szech, Managing Director, Odego GmbH, szech@odego.de, (+49) 170 4957866