The first question of the survey was dealing with complementary practices or systems related to a traditional PLM-infrastructure.
As you can see, most of you are curious about Digital Twin management 68 % (it is hype). Second best are Configuration Management, Product Configuration Management and Supplier Collaboration Management, all with 58% of the votes. Click on the image to see the details. Note: you could vote for more than one topic.
Product Configuration Management
Therefore, I am happy to share this blog space with Configit’s CTO, Henrik Hulgaard. Configit is a company specialized in Product Configuration Management, or as they call it, Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM).
Recently Henrik wrote an interesting article on LinkedIn: How to achieve End-To-End Configuration. A question that I heard several times from my clients. How to align the selling and delivery of configurable products, including sales, engineering and manufacturing?
Configit – the company / the mission
We are founded on patented technology, called Virtual Tabulation. The YouTube movie below explains the term Virtual Tabulation.
Virtual Tabulation compiles EVERY possible configuration scenario and then compresses that data into a very small file so that it can be used by everyone in your team.
Virtual Tabulations enables important capabilities such as:
- Consolidation of all configuration data, both Engineering and Sales related, into single-source-of-truth.
- Effortless maintenance of complicated rule data.
- Fast and error-free configuration engine that provides perfect guidance to the customer across multiple platforms and channels..
As the only vendor, Configit provides a configuration platform that fully supports end-to-end configuration processes, from early design and engineering, over sales and manufacturing to support and service configurable products.
This is what we understand by Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM).
Why Configuration Lifecycle Management?
Organizations obtain several benefits when aligning across functions on what product variants it offers:
- Engineering: faster time-to-market, optimized variability, and the assurance to only engineer products that are sold
- Sales: reducing errors, making sure that what gets quoted is accurate, and reducing the time to close the deal. The configurator provides current, up-to-date, and accurate information.
- Manufacturing: reducing errors and production stoppages due to miss-builds
- Service: accurate information about the product’s configuration. The service technician knows precisely what capabilities to expect on the particular product to be serviced.
CLM for everybody?
CLM is not just for automotive companies that have high volume and high complexity. Many of our customers are in industrial components and machinery, offering complex systems and services. A couple of examples:
CLM and Digital Transformation
Now, what would you recommend realizing this idea?
- The first step is to move away from talking about parts and instead talk about features when communicating about product capabilities.
This requires that an organization establishes a common feature “language” (sometimes this is called a master feature dictionary) that is shared across the different functions.
- The next step is typically to make information about valid configurations available in a central place, sometimes referred to as the single source of truth for configuration.
Once consuming systems all share a single configuration engine, the organization may move on to improve on the rule authoring and replace the existing legacy rule authoring applications found in PLM and ERP systems with more modern applications such as Configit Ace.
As can be seen from above, these steps all go across the functional silos. Thus, it is essential that the CLM journey has top-level management support, typically from the CIO.
We have seen this happening in 2011 with the tsunami in Japan when suddenly supplier could not provide certain parts anymore. The organization then has to quickly adapt the rules so that the options requiring those parts are no longer available to order.
Therefore, the CLM vision also includes suppliers as configuration knowledge has to be shared across organizations to ensure that what is ordered also can be delivered.
What I have learned
- Configuration Lifecycle Management is relevant for companies that want to streamline their business functions, i.e., sales, engineering, manufacturing, and service. CLM will reduce the number of iterations in the process, reduce costly fixing when trying to align to customer demands, and ultimately create more service offerings by knowing customer existing configurations.
- The technology to implement CLM is there. Configit has shown in various industries, it is possible. It is an example of adding value on top of a digital information infrastructure (CRM, PLM, and ERP)
- The challenge will be on aligning the different functions to agree and align on one standard configuration authority. Therefore, responsibility should lie at the top-level of an organization, likely the modern CIO or CDO.
- I was glad to learn that Henrik stated:
“The first step is to move away from talking about parts and instead talk about features when communicating about product capabilities”.
A topic I will discuss soon when talking about Product & Portfolio Management with PLM.
It was a pleasure to work with Configit, in particular, Henrik Hulgaard, learning more about Configuration Lifecycle Management or whatever you may name it. More important, I hope you find this post insightful for your understanding if and where it applies to your business.
Always feel free to ask more questions related to the complimentary value of PLM and Product Configuration Management(CLM)