Configurators: A Status Report

Beating the competition - traditionally achieved on price, quality and delivery.  No longer. Now, customers also demand "my way" for product configurations that satisfy their own unique requirements.  To meet the demands of the "To-Order" marketplace, software product configurators have exploded on the scene.  From the clunky, no-logic features and options methodology of the past, configurators have evolved to powerful systems using advanced programming techniques to manage products with often hundreds of complex options and variations.  Both Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendors offer configurator software systems and diverse third-party sources.  And, thus far, user experiences with configurators range from entirely ecstatic to downright disappointment. Configurators are defined as: "Software systems that create, use and maintain product models that allow complete definition of all possible product options and variations with a minimum of entries."  Within this framework, further refinements have evolved.  The configurators provided in ERP systems have been identified as "back-office," while the configurators for use by the sales force is now known as "front-office."  The "back-office" ERP configurators are oriented to the needs of manufacturing primarily to create accurate product configurations with a minimal number of bills of material.  In contrast, the "front office" distinction emphasizes customer needs for accurate quotations and error-free order entry in the configurator system.  "Front-office" systems are often also known as Sales Configurator Systems (SCS), a term coined by the Gartner Group ...

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