With approximately 1800 employees and sales and service operations in more than 50 countries around the world, Thermo Fisher Scientific is a leading diversified scientific instruments company.
Thermo Fisher Scientific (TFS) is a leader in a field that is extremely price and market conscious. In an effort to streamline business both internally and externally, TFS selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM to improve sales and customer service operations. To help realize the benefits of the new CRM solution, TFS needed an integrated product configurator to:
TFS had an existing quote and order system but the process had limitations, including:
"TFS runs an international business with various factories around the globe. We needed a highly flexible, scalable configurator that would help streamline our financial management and allow us to control our configurations very precisely. Moreover, we wanted a tool that would easily support the use of discount approvals as well as the processing of non-standard requests", says Guido van Mier, Configuration Manager for TFS.
After investigating several product configurator packages, TFS selected Experlogix for its integration to Dynamics CRM and its scalable architecture. "We evaluated other solutions but in the end there was no decision; Experlogix was the logical choice for us as it is such a versatile tool," says van Mier. "Experlogix could handle all that we initially required and more. Just recently we incorporated logic that handles installation, warranty, additional warranty, and freight and duty. None of the other tools we considered came even close to the power of Experlogix."
"One additional very important consideration for choosing Experlogix was for its capabilities of managing our administrative pains," continues van Mier. "Multiple administrators operating in various time zones were putting quite a bit of stress on the system. Now our administrative departments work seamlessly around the world."
Experlogix helps TFS consolidate product and service options, rules and pricing into a single intelligent system, eliminating the need for paper catalogs and cumbersome-to-maintain spreadsheets. The configurator ensures the entire proposal or order is 100 percent accurate, guaranteeing a seamless quote-to-order process and higher customer satisfaction.
TFS's customers across a range of scientific industries require microscopes to fit their specific needs. An instrument used in a biology lab will include particular cameras and pieces of equipment while an instrument used for semi-conductor fabrication will include others. TFS's sales reps no longer quote and configure each instrument by consulting a spreadsheet and a diagram tree to match up parts that can and cannot co-exist on the same instrument. All this information is now accessible via the Experlogix Configurator from Dynamics CRM. They also get immediate feedback if an individual part is compatible with the overall microscope as planned. As a result, TFS has dramatically reduced quote times for even its most complex instruments and is certain that all quotes contain accurate configurations.
"Experlogix enables TFS to produce orders in just a fraction of the time previously required. We no longer have to deal with complex systems involving multiple software tools and hordes of Excel spreadsheets," says van Mier.
TFS also appreciates the tight integration with Dynamics CRM. According to van Mier "Experlogix works harmoniously with Dynamics CRM and the combination of the two is quite powerful. We have tossed our old system overboard and have managed to get rid of at least 20 different programs and Excel sheets on the fly. As the multi-currency functionality is easy to set up in Experlogix, we were able to build a uniform solution that serves our global sales team so we now speak one common language in the company. In fact, we have even started training our agents and distributors to use Experlogi x for quoting."
Experlogix enables TFS to control which users have access to which information, supports automation of internal processes such as requests for quoting non-standard products and discount approval workflows. "Simply stated, our business is running much more smoothly than before," says van Mier.
The Experlogix Configurator supports hundreds of Husky users across the globe, providing consistent, accurate quote-to-cash processes every time, providing management reliable forecasts.
Founded in 1953 in a Toronto garage, Husky started out as a small machine shop. It quickly found its niche specializing in the making of quality injection molds for thin wall plastic containers. Husky Injection Molding Systems is now one of the world’s largest suppliers of injection molding equipment to the plastics industry with more than forty service and sales offices supporting customers in more than 100 countries.
As the company expanded to include five major business units with manufacturing plants in Canada, the United States, Luxemburg, and China, so did the complexity and demands of its quote/order processes. By 2010, Husky personnel were using seven different standalone systems to build customer quotes for its broad array of products.
“A quote for a new system typically include machine, molds, axillaries, startup services, freight and then there are options, specials and spares totaling up to 200 products per one quote,” says Sergiy Fomenko, Sales Effectiveness Project Manager.
“Getting one unified quote was hard because the outputs were different for all seven systems,” says Terry Solomon, Sales Support Manager. “Keeping price and product data current was a major challenge.” The cumbersome process caused errors and delayed delivery of quotes to customers.
Successfully pushing price quotes to the field was an onerous task. “It involved coordinating teams in over 100 countries worldwide,” says Fomenko. “Once a quote is accepted by a customer, it’s too late to update to the most current pricing.”
The process was cumbersome and riddled with errors which delayed deliveries of customer quotes. And corporate management had no visibility to global quoting in terms of how many quotes had been made, and how many were accepted.
“The system is very flexible, easy to use, and reliable for our global sales teams - and has already returned more than a 100 percent return on investment.”
With the release of Windows 7, the company lost support – and essentially access – to massive amounts of data in two of its core systems: Access and Microsoft Excel. Management decided it was time to move to a new, totally integrated, technology platform. The platform was to be Microsoft based, critically relying on Share Point, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
After an intensive review of several configurator vendors, Husky selected Experlogix to a critical component of its new global pricing technology platform. The configurator is model-based with rules, component definitions, and pricing centrally maintained. User access is available directly within Dynamics CRM to everyone across the company’s extended global network.
“Experlogix is quite flexible and user friendly,” Solomon says. “There are many ways to go about consolidating information you need, and the speed and ease of that, and the confidence it provides management is a significant improvement over what we had before.” Quotes and reports can be built by multiple methods or by using a combination of functions, including formulas, tables, pricing properties, and more.
“Overall, Experlogix personnel were very supportive, helping us through the initial launch,” says Fomenko. “The lead Experlogix repimplementation engineer was extremely knowledgeable about all business requirements, and how the technology could be used to achieve what we needed.”
One of the biggest benefits to date is the visibility provided to senior management to the whole quote and order process. And the confidence they have that all quote information is consistent and accurate and universally applied.
“The system is also very flexible, easy to use, and reliable for our global sales teams,” says Fomenko. He states that the comprehensive new pricing platform has already returned more than 100 percent ROI.
The number of people using the system has more than doubled, touching the jobs of over 1,000 individuals as more departments have been drawn to use it, Including people in sales, sales support, marketing communications, marketing products, operations/manufacturing, material planning, services and logistics teams.
Husky is looking to improve forecasts that will lead to shorter lead times and smaller inventory costs – all which will contribute to its greater competitiveness, and provide improved benefits to its customers.
“Now that the implementation has been completed, the company is planning how to gain greater return from the solution. We are already thinking about how to enhance sales forecast accuracy, order entry validity, material planning and warehouse management, logistics and incoterms, custom products quotes, product specification forms and checklists," he says. "More accurate and centrally controlled quote data saves many thousands of dollars of unnecessary expenses, increases company revenue and provides greater business intelligence to make more informed decisions."
MCFA is the leading manufacturer of three distinct brands: Mitsubishi and CAT forklift trucks and Jungheinrich warehouse products, distributing through a vast dealer network throughout North and South America.
Forklifts are one of the most highly customized products serving the manufacturing and distribution industries. Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc. (MCFA) offers numerous product families across three brands: Mitsubishi forklift trucks, Cat® lift trucks, and Jungheinrich®. Within families – each with as many as 10 different models - there is always a need to specially configure orders to address unique customer needs, typically involving hundreds of feature and function decisions.
MCFA previously handled order entry using a product configurator embedded in its legacy ERP system. The legacy ERP configurator required numerous manual steps that took an inordinate amount of time - greatly escalating the period required to ensure a configuration was accurate.
“It took a lot of time to do things that shouldn’t have been difficult,” says Jose Clark, Manager of Business Analytics at MCFA. “Adding part numbers, pricing, and setting-up product configurations on all products had to be done manually. There was no easy way to copy and modify an existing configuration. We were forced to start from scratch every time,” he says. “Changing a part number or a rule took time. Even adding a single new option to a category took weeks.”
“Day-to-day, all those things were very frustrating from a business perspective,” continues Clark.” Senior management could not understand why it took so long to configure an order.”
The challenge became dramatically more complicated in 2010 when MCFA signed an agreement with Jungheinrich AG, the European leader in electric-power warehouse material handling systems, to add its products to the company portfolio. That partnership nearly doubled the number of products MCFA offered to its dealer network.
“It was clear at that point that we needed a solution to bring new products to market in a timelier, user-friendly fashion,” Clark says.
“Experlogix also makes it easy to build workflows,” Clark says. “If certain features or options are especially complex, Experlogix can launch a notice to product specialists to review the order.”
MCFA needed an easy-to-use, flexible product configurator that could streamline and accelerate order entry processes and respond rapidly as their business needs changed.
After a thorough review of several product configurators for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, MCFA selected Experlogix. Experlogix clearly caught MCFA’s attention during its search for a solution. “The user-friendliness of Experlogix really stood out,” Clark says. “Managers were impressed, commenting ‘even I could do that.’” Other elements were equally noteworthy. “It’s extremely fast and flexible,” comments Clark. “We gave the Experlogix team some of our rules and data, and they came back within a day or two to demonstrate our logic within their solution. That was really impressive.”
Experlogix’s power and flexibility provided a major gain in productivity. “MCFA’s partnership with Jungheinrich AG extended the number of MCFA product families to more than 50,” Clark explains. “Experlogix provides an easy way to copy and then modify an existing configuration. In addition, we’re now able to create rules once and apply them across multiple families and products.” As a result, the time it takes to build a complete family of products has been slashed from two months to two weeks.
Internal users use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to initiate the configuration process, while dealership sales personnel access it via a portal. Though some dealers have third-party configuration systems of their own, MCFA worked with Experlogix to link those systems with Experlogix in a seamless fashion to ensure that everyone in the network has the most current, accurate product information from a single database. Completed configurations are passed back to Dynamics CRM which in turn links with MCFA’s ERP system to provide accurate delivery dates. For the first time, MCFA can now use orders to forecast production capacity.
“Experlogix also makes it easy to build workflows,” Clark says. “If certain features or options are especially complex, Experlogix can launch a notice to product specialists to review the order. Top-dollar features and options can also be specially handled. Rules in Experlogix enable lock down on orders, permitting dealers to still review the configuration, but restricting them from making further changes. They can, however, still change and manage their own margins and other details.”
A completely unanticipated benefit is that Experlogix has fostered strong growth in sales of product options. “We’re able to offer options a la carte, making it easier for dealers to suggest additional features to their customers.” This is facilitated in part with Experlogix being available on an iPad. A sales person visiting a customer can pull up Experlogix and go over an order in real time. “They can configure or change it right there, and then email a copy of the changes to the customer.”
Another important benefit became clear during the Experlogix training. “Experlogix allows users to create rules in a visual or text-based format. The visual format really aids the learning process,” says Clark.
Experlogix has brought big change to the way things are done at MCFA. “Experlogix has made everyone’s job easier,” Clark says.
Martin Door Manufacturing specializes in offering the largest variety of garage door options in their industry, and ships within 48 hours, no exceptions.
Martin Door implemented the Experlogix Configurator to ensure complete order accuracy, coordinate construction, labor and materials routings, and achieve a 99.9% on-time shipping record. “Every single door produced is now configured,” says chief engineer Robert Scott, Martin Door. “In fact, the only possible way to facilitate accurate order entry and the coordination of construction, labor and materials is to have a powerful product configurator.
"The service from day one working with Experlogix has been excellent, far beyond expectations"
After researching several possible configurator solutions, Scott selected Experlogix due to its unique ability to mix rules, tables, formulas, lists, options and categories as needed to create an order entry interface, consume materials and labor, and create information for shop floor travelers and reports. The most significant improvements since going live are the speed at which the company can configure work instructions, materials and labor allocations, and most importantly, configured door engineering.
According to Scott, “We have been using the Experlogix Configurator for several years now. Due to its abilities, we continually integrate it more and more into our systems and procedures. It has become the "brains" of our company."