6 May 2018

Smart Customization & the need for Infor CPQ

Smart Customization helps manufacturing companies for parts of their business to move from EtO to CtO. Customers demand unique products, with CtO you'll have less risk, less costs and shorter lead times. A configurator like Infor CPQ that integrates seamlessly with ERP (like Infor CSI) & CAD is a prerequisite for CtO. See below for a customer story, originally posted on http://blogs.infor.com

How Infor CPQ opens a window to a better customer experience for Milgard Windows & Doors

Milgard Windows & Doors is an excellent example of how an advanced configure-price-quote (CPQ) solution can do much more than help sales personnel configure orders; it can also drive fundamental transformations in how a company does business.

During a recent webinar, Milgard Windows & Doors CIO, Vinod Nair, discussed what the company was looking for in a next-generation CPQ solution and how Infor CPQ delivered capabilities that created a smoother, more intuitive, and productive experience for dealers, customers, and the company’s own sales personnel.

Tacoma-based Milgard Windows & Doors offers a full line of vinyl, wood, fiberglass, and aluminum windows and patio doors for builders, dealers, and homeowners. The company has approximately 3,800 dealer locations nationwide, and needed a CPQ tool that would scale to accommodate growth and provide a smoother overall user experience with a faster, more accurate quoting process.

Their primary requirement for a CPQ tool was to deploy a solution that made it easier for dealers and customers to do business with the company. Its legacy PC-based CPQ tool was often the barrier to a smooth business engagement. Because it wasn’t integrated with the back-end ERP systems that managed window production, this tool would often create mismatches with the pricing generated by the ERP systems. Dealers could create an order, but too often that order would conflict with the ERP system of record.

The tool also created other glitches in the customer experience as well. In many cases, a dealer would begin a quote and find that an order quickly increased in complexity — requiring them to contact a Milgard Windows & Doors salesperson to complete the process. However, the dealers couldn’t share the partially completed order with the salesperson, who had to start the process again from scratch.

The lack of integration also complicated new product introductions. When new products came to market, the company had to update all versions of the standalone quoting tool and its back-end systems. This posed an ongoing challenge for IT to keep the two systems in sync.

With the launch of Infor CPQ, Milgard Windows & Doors paved the way to a smoother experience for dealers, customers, and their own sales team. Because Infor CPQ integrates with their ERP systems, the company has a seamless quoting and ordering process with no discrepancies between what dealers and customers see and the pricing and production cycles managed by the ERP systems. The generated quote automatically triggers the appropriate bills of material and routings required to fulfill the order. Also, the sales team can log in on behalf of the dealer and customer to collaborate on a partially completed order, rather than starting from scratch. Dealers, end customers, and the sales team all get a single, consistent experience. Where it used to take months to train a new user on the legacy CPQ system, users can now get up to speed within a much shorter timeframe. The solution also provides a 2D visualization of the final product, which helps eliminate any surprises and addresses potential design issues prior to production.

The CPQ and ERP integration also reduces IT’s ongoing administrative workload. With one solution to maintain and manage, IT has a more streamlined way to execute system upgrades and new product launches. The solution is also highly scalable, allowing IT to on-board new dealers and locations much more efficiently. In addition to having happier, more productive users, the company is also ready for a more mobile future. With Infor CPQ, the company is positioned to support mobile users who want to gather and input requirements onsite with the customer and generate a quote immediately.

The work Milgard Windows & Doors did prior to deployment is one of the reasons that its Infor CPQ solution has had such a meaningful impact on its business. The company invested a lot of time and effort working with dealers to understand what they needed in a quoting solution. The team gathered requirements, proposed designs, and incorporated dealer feedback into its final deployment to ensure that users would have the smooth, seamless customer experience that would help differentiate Milgard Windows & Doors from its competitors. As Nair puts it: “Infor CPQ was easy to use, intuitive, and accurate, which met our goal to make the buying experience as stress-free as possible for our dealers and their customers. The Infor solution also supports a more efficient and effective sales process, which is helping open us up to new opportunities and partnerships.”