It’s time to stop thinking about product complexity as a problem
Complexity management a great opportunity
So - your products have thousands of parts and your customers all have unique requirements. Not one of the products rolling of your assembly line is identical. The rate of engineering changes is ever increasing. Lucky you! You sit on the biggest competitive potential of today.
The tools, the systems, the knowledge and the product architectures are available to turn the challenge of complexity management into a huge competitive advantage. Most companies have not realized this yet so here is an opportunity.
The era of the customer
It is not the 50’s and 60’s any longer, when the main challenge for most companies was to keep up with customer demand. Let’s face it - today there is a surplus of products and a deficit of customers. To get your fair market share, you and your entire supply chain have to be really good at delivering a product optimized for the customers’ needs. It is no longer good enough for your sales people to show the customers what they can buy. This is the era of the customer - your sales team has to understand what the customer needs and then translate that into an optimally configured solution.
As if that isn't enough of a challenge, a traditionally “silo” organized company has to align information and structure to support a process where customer requirements drives sales, development and manufacturing. Think transparency of data between the design BOM to the Sales BOM to the Manufacturing BOM. Think translating customers' requirements stated in their own language into the optimal configuration with a quote and a price. Think the agility to respond to customer requirements and manufacture at a competitive price with a good margin.
From Engineer to Order to Configure to Order
A powerful shift from Engineer to Order to Configure to Order has started. This shift supports these new demands and presents challenges and opportunities as well as winners and losers.
This is what we discuss with customers every day. We have condensed our experience from these discussions into a white paper where we follow a fictitious company, MMW, a construction machinery manufacturer with challenges and opportunities. The company might be fictitious but the challenges, opportunities and solutions are very real. If you'd like to know the inside story of a company that decided to use complexity management as a competitive tool read the MMW story.
A company in control of its complexity management is hard to stop. Offering more variation, optimized products, faster delivery and better margin. Consider the effects on your company if your competition gets there first.
If you want to know how companies like yours are turning complexity into a competitive tool, then read MMW’s story. And stay tuned, I’ll be covering this subject in detail as it relates to specific parts of the business in coming posts.