At first glance, Assa Abloy France (AAF) appears to run a specific business producing armored and entry doors for residential and individual housing. But AAF has an international reach with departments in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium through its retailer network “Points Forts Fichet.” Their employee roster stands at 1300 people, and the company creates 2,600 configurations every month. That’s close to 32,000 per year!
AAF dealt with a range of significant issues daily. The company coded configurations on a dedicated website, the rules to configure products were directly implemented in the .asp coding. Laurent Machu, a project representative, notes, “If AAF modified a product line, only the subcontractor hosting the site could make modifications. The process was slow, carried risk for errors, and forced the company into a reactive model if problems arose. Even for the teams creating the initial models and configurations, the .asp pages were not reliable.” Also, retailers struggled with a mandatory sequence of questions that were ordered by dependencies. The configuration process also didn’t offer the ability to show customers WHAT the product would look like—a significant selling drawback. AAF’s previous ERP system, Movex, did include a configurator, but all rules defining the product range were not written into the tool. While they could view the “official” range of products the factory could manufacture, they often had to make best guesses about options and variations. Back office and production often received orders that they couldn’t manufacture — they were almost prototypes! Also, documents generated for customers did not contain the latest information—overall, they were just out of date.
“Building, maintaining, and changing configurations can be handled by the company’s internal resources much more efficiently, and are available in record time to all users. Teams can take a proactive approach to issues and react quickly if major problems arise.”
Laurent Machu, Project Manager at ASSA ABLOY
In December 2009, AAF stopped using web pages dedicated to configuration and replaced them with a standalone edition of CPQ, which generated exchange files to feed Movex. This initial change made it easier to prepare the website for use with Dynamics AX. When they implemented Dynamics AX in 2010, their CPQ standalone tool could use those same document generation capabilities to feed AX. They could continue to use CPQ standalone for their website and CPQ for Dynamics AX with their ERP system without disruptions or workarounds.
Because capabilities were essentially the same, they could connect CPQ standalone to Dynamics AX to create sales orders directly within the ERP solution AX. The separation of website, configurator, and ERP ended. It didn’t matter that the website and Dynamics AX were installed on two different servers. CPQ could work equally well with both. Information transfer to ERP was quick, simple, and enabled the company to make updates and modifications themselves and ensure they’re in both systems simultaneously.
AAF has a network of retailers that can now work directly with the web-based interface within CPQ. After selecting a product range, they can configure specific products for their customers using a guided process, and they don’t have to follow a mandatory sequence of questions. The same goes for sales administration. Whether a user is working with CPQ for Dynamics AX or CPQ standalone, they can rest assured that they have the most current product information. And CPQ’s checks and balances prompt them if they choose an option that isn’t feasible. That’s a relief for back–office and production—no more prototypes!
The company no longer needs to lose time with updates, errors, and issues that plagued them behind the scenes. Instead, the R&D department fills the system in with new products or product improvements. The IT department manages static and dynamic data.