Blog Category: Meet the Team

Meet the People at Tacton: Baran Topal

 

Tacton’s Support department is hard at work – and it shows. In the latest customer satisfaction survey, the department received a 90% satisfaction rating! On the team is, among others, Baran Topal. He loves both teaching and learning – and at Support, he gets both.

 

First things first: how did you end up at Tacton?

When I studied in Turkey, I heard great things about Sweden. I got curious and decided to take a Master’s Degree in Sweden, too. (Baran already held a Master’s in Statistics at the time).

 

Before I started at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm I went here to visit during the summer. The city and the weather were just fantastic, and I loved it. I guess I was tricked because wintertime in Sweden is nothing like summer (laughs).

 

When I graduated, I found Tacton and I’ve been here ever since. That was in 2013.

 

What does a normal day at Support look like?

We work with cases for all our products on a daily basis; both CPQ and Design Automation. The cases vary in nature and difficulty, and we are not dedicated to just one customer, but to all. This keeps us on our toes and the work is always evolving. We follow what our customers do. Naturally, when they develop, so must we.

 

Are there any misconceptions about Support and its importance?

Yes! People think that we operate much like a call center, where we copy paste text and escalate it to someone with more technical knowledge. That is not true at all. We work with everything from bug fixes to development issues. Depending on the level of complexity, we work on the issues ourselves, or with R&D and Product Management. Regardless, we are very actively involved in our customers’ products.

 

What is unique in providing support to manufacturers who do complex configuration?

Many of our customers are really pushing the boundaries for how you can use CPQ in manufacturing. They want a certain kind of functionality and are not afraid to try and see what’s doable.

 

It’s a lot of dialogue with the customers in after-sales scenarios. Our customers are curious and willing to learn, so they ask a lot of questions and use our existing resources to get knowledge. This gives us a lot of real-life cases to work with. It’s a collaboration and a learning experience all in one – every day. And the dynamics really make for a better product, in the end.

 

What have you learned about Tacton’s product by working with our customers?

That our configurator really is state-of-the-art. It really enables our customers to be unique in their field. They outperform their competitors.

 

It’s no secret that the more complex the product, the more Tacton shines. I like that we can support our customers in their globalization efforts. Our solutions are not exclusive to one office: our customers scale it as they expand their global reach.

 

We really specialize in complex manufacturing, and our customers are our biggest evidence.

 

What’s next for Support?

We recently conducted a satisfaction survey, where we got really good results. It is fun to hear that our customers are happy. But we want it to be even better. We’re aiming for 100% next year!

Meet the People at Tacton: Magnus Fasth

 

Magnus Fasth is a real Tacton veteran. He’s been with the company for more than 15 years and has been heavily involved with many of our biggest customers. Last week I met with him to talk Tacton – past, present, and future.

 

Tacton has made a great journey during the past decade. What is the biggest difference from when you started?

The way we work and the solutions we can offer our customers. We’ve grown into a company with many talented, hard-working individuals, and it shows. We can deliver much greater value to our customers than before and have a bigger impact on the actual sales process. We no longer offer just a technical solution. Rather, we make a real, tangible difference in our projects.

 

What do you mean when you say that CPQ is more than just a technical solution?

We’re able to see how the end-customer interacts with CPQ in the sales situation, what prices are most common, what products are selected – and when. This functionality makes CPQ a strategic tool that helps you optimize your sales strategy. And it’s all based on extracting valuable usage data from your CPQ. That information should be reflected in your processes.

 

How do we extract the right data, and how can we make the most of it?

Let’s take product development as an example. It’s crucial to understand which features and functionality bring the greatest value to the end-customer. Your CPQ can help you with that. The AI technology in Tacton’s solutions helps you make more informed, intelligent decisions about your sales process and product portfolio.

 

That ability is really important. It’s no longer enough to gather data and create average estimates. Your data must be predictive. You must be able to look forward and understand what this data will mean tomorrow, or in a year.

 

I am working with a customer on precisely this. We look at historic price data to create a data-driven strategy, where the customer offers the best price in any situation.

 

How do you start out with CPQ Analytics?

Questions are important. Ask yourself, “What do I need to know about my customers to offer better products?”. This is equally important for the business you don’t get. “What was the reason we lost this deal, and how can we be more competitive going forward?”

 

We all have bias and are usually satisfied with an analysis that confirms our pre-existing opinions. But CPQ gives us the tools we need to look directly at behavior. We’re able to see how the end-customer interacts with the tool in the sales situation, what prices are most common, and what products are selected – and when. The data is there, as long as you know how to approach and understand it. That’s where CPQ can be a big help.

 

What do you see in the future for CPQ?

I believe we will see CPQ be used to an even greater extent than today. CPQ will increasingly be used as both an advisor and an enabler. An advisor by telling you what offer is best and will appeal to your customer the most. An enabler by connecting your customer with your product, and yourself to the manufacturing process.

 

All companies want to gain a deeper understanding for what product portfolio is actually working and bringing in revenue. To achieve this, you need a tool that can bridge the technical aspects of your offering with the business logic. CPQ is that tool.

Meet the team behind Tacton for SAP

If you’re working in the manufacturing industry, chances are you’ve encountered SAP one way or another. Since Tacton’s CPQ solutions are developed for complex configurations especially common for manufacturing companies, an SAP integration is a given.

 

Tacton for SAP is our latest product release, which combines the power of the Tacton Configurator with SAP. This tool provides full control of configuring, pricing, quoting and ordering complex products by tying together the power of Tacton with SAP data and logic.

 

We decided it might be fun for you to get to know the team behind the product a bit better, and managed to schedule (almost) everyone on the team for a joint interview. We talked about Tacton for SAP, the value it brings, and what the pre-launch process looked like.

 

Let’s start by introducing the team. Esther Bergmark is the Product Manager for Tacton for SAP (if you’re a loyal reader of this blog, and we know you are, you’ve read her interview for Meet the People at Tacton earlier this spring). Additionally, these specialized developers are the brains behind Tacton for SAP and are constantly working to make the product better and more seamless:

  • Albert Haag (Germany) – SAP Luminary who worked on the initial creation of the SAP ECC variant configurator (SAP VC) already back in 1992.
  • Johan Eriksson (Sweden) – Solution Architect and Tech lead with 20 years’ experience in integration. Created the Tacton Integration Layer.
  • Grzegorz Zebrowski (Poland) – Java Developer. Created the export of quotes and orders from Tacton back to SAP.
  • Joakim Almgren (Sweden) – Senior System Developer. Researched and developed the SAP VC translator together with Albert and Jean-Noël.
  • Jean-Noël Monette (Belgium) – Software Engineer & Tacton Configuration Engine expert and one of the brains behind the SAP VC Translator (not pictured)

 

What’s been unique about developing Tacton for SAP?

Johan: – Sometimes development is “only” a matter of programming and solving algorithms. However, since a lot of our work includes tying the logic of SAP ECC and Tacton CPQ together, we often find ourselves working on a very high level of logic. We could have long meetings where the topic of discussion was abstract concepts like “What is configuration, really?” or “What is a constraint?”.

Grzegorz: – I think those kinds of meetings are really interesting but also crucial for the development progress. When you end up with difficult challenges, especially when it comes to logic, you have to really push yourself while also continuing to work as a team. I think there is an added benefit of us having such different backgrounds, in terms of age and nationality. We all bring a different perspective.

 

What does Tacton for SAP do for manufacturing companies?

Esther: – The SAP VC is an excellent tool for manufacturing logic. Tacton for SAP, in addition, enables companies to leverage their SAP ECC installation in the Tacton CPQ application.

Joakim: – Exactly, we are not creating a competing solution. Rather, we add value to the SAP CPQ. Our aim is to meet the demands of high-end configuration problems and address challenges mainly related to sales CPQ.

 

What is the difference between Tacton for SAP and the SAP ECC?

Albert: – The term CPQ didn’t exist back in the 90’s when I started working at SAP. The SAP VC is a powerful configurator but it addresses a different set of configuration problems – and it solves them differently. It provides powerful “object oriented” product modeling capabilities integrated with the SAP master data maintenance, and is constructed to ensure that configurations are consistent and complete from the perspective of the manufacturing process. In interactive configuration it can be seen as a decision support system that “looks over your shoulder” and tells you about conflicting choices.

Esther: – I believe we add a perfect match to the SAP ECC and give you the best of two worlds. SAP ECC for configuration during manufacturing and Tacton for complex sales configuration.

 

If you want to learn more about Tacton for SAP, watch this 25-minute webinar or download the product sheet here.

 

Meet the People at Tacton: Esther Bergmark

Esther is one of the newer recruits to the Tacton family, and works as a Product Manager handling the Tacton document engine and SAP-integration. As a native German she is one of many employees at Tacton with experience from working, and growing up, in another country.

As a Product Manager, what do you do at Tacton?

Basically, I make sure the requests, complaints, and feedback from our customers makes their way into updates of our products.

For example, I visit customers and sit by them as they work with our product to learn how they really use it. For example, do our customers actually use that new button we added and if not, why not? This is very enlightening but also a great way to find out about problems before they turn into complaints. Outside of that, I also have regular meetings with representatives from our customers in a more formal setup where we discuss issues with the product and possible improvements.

With this type of feedback from our customers, I can distinguish the changes needed for the product and promote these functionalities towards our development department. After the functionalities have been developed we perform new usability tests and finally release the updated product back to the market. The whole idea is to make sure important new functionalities are implemented into the product as soon as possible after the need has been discovered.

 

You work with Document Generation. What is that?

An important part of CPQ is to dynamically create documentation based on the product configuration. The slightest alteration of a product configuration could have large implications on everything from details in the user manual to legal documents related to the product. In addition to that, changes of the product also change the product images, the Bill of Material, technical specifications, quotations etc. The Tacton CPQ generates these documents on the fly and it is my responsibility to make sure it all works.

 

You are also responsible for Tacton’s SAP integration, could you tell us something about that?

Tacton CPQ can integrate with SAP ERP to create quotes and orders, among many things, and I am responsible for these and similar products. The work with these products is a great challenge and a lot of fun.

I am currently working with a development team of highly experienced integration and SAP VC experts for a research project where we dig deep into the topic of SAP integration. This project is just about to go live with SAP integration options for our products Tacton CPQ and Tacton Extensions: Business Data for SAP and Business Logic for SAP, so I have my hands full at the moment – but that’s how I like it!

 

“My feeling is that Tacton picks the best people, no matter where they are from.”

 

What is your impression from your first time at Tacton?

My strongest impression has been the people working here! There is an amazing work culture at Tacton with fantastic, smart, and creative people. People are quite unique and have very different backgrounds, which creates an interesting workplace.

I have also noted that many of my colleagues, just like me, have backgrounds from different countries. My feeling is that Tacton picks the best people, no matter where they are from.

 

What is the difference between working in Germany compared to Sweden?

In general, I find the workplaces in Sweden to be less formal and not to be very hierarchical. Something I like about working at Tacton specifically is that there is a good balance between work and the rest of your life priorities here.

On the other hand, I believe decisions too often need to be consensus based in Swedish companies. I think German companies are better in that aspect.

 

What do you do when you’re not working?

I do a lot of sports: running, squash, biking, and yoga for example. I also like to cook and listen to opera, especially when I travel to new cities.

 

Esther Bergmark

Product Manager | Magister Degree in Media Sciences, Sinology and Political Science | Stockholm | 11 months at Tacton

Passionate about: Sports, cooking, and opera

Meet the People at Tacton: Dunja Sparre Kvarda

If you ever visit the Tacton office in Stockholm it is likely the first smile you will see is the one from Dunja Sparre Kvarda, greeting you from behind her desk at the reception. If you are lucky she may greet you in your native tongue as she speaks several different languages!

You have been working here for two years. What do you do at Tacton?

My base at Tacton is behind the desk in the reception but a lot of my work is around the office. I take care of the practical things that makes the office a great place, and a nice social environment to spend your work days at.

My work, for example, includes everything from helping out in the planning of Christmas parties to make sure someone’s birthday, last day at work, or the likes of it, is not going unnoticed.

What do you like about your job?

To be honest, when I started at Tacton I thought this would just be one of those boring software companies but I have been quite surprised by how fun it is to work here and how nice and social everyone is!

I believe I am fortunate to have a job with almost exclusively positive work tasks. I mean, if you are a boss, a sales person etc some portion of your work tasks will always involve complicated trade-offs, handling difficult issues, stressful deadlines etc. I am not saying my work is uncomplicated but most of my tasks revolve around making the work place better so I get a lot of positive feedback all the time.

The feeling I have while getting ready for work in the morning is not that I am ”going to work” – I feel like I am going to a place to have fun and that is a obviously a really good feeling!

As a Croatian, you are a part of Tacton’s large international employee base. What is the major difference between working in Croatia and in Sweden?

The company organization in Croatia is generally more authoritative. In Swedish companies, like Tacton, the organization is flatter. The managers are more down to earth and you can have a casual chat with them in a manner that would be very uncommon in Croatia.

I like working in Sweden because I have more flexibility to control my work and take my own decisions. At Tacton I am informed on what to do and which problems to solve but I decide myself how to solve them.

Is there any cultural difference that you have found interesting with working in Sweden?

I find it funny that you have so many ”official pastry days”, like Kanelbullens dag (”cinnamon bun day”), Fettisdagen (”semla”) but also Lussebulle on Lucia day. I need to keep track of them in order to make sure they are served during ”Fika” (i.e. afternoon coffee break) those days.

At Tacton I am informed on what to do and which problems to solve but I decide myself how to solve them.

Lastly, do you know the names of all 200 people working at the Tacton office?

Haha, I think I know almost everyone’s name at least, perhaps not some of the most recently employed.

 

Dunja Sparre Kvarda

Office Manager | Master of Business Administration | Stockholm | 2 years at Tacton

Passionate about: hospitality, languages and books