Enabling Better Post-sales Customer Experiences with Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM)

How CLM Facilitates Better Customer Experiences Throughout the Product Lifecycle

Over the last few years, there has been a great deal of interest in using Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) to address complexity in the design, engineering, manufacturing and sales of products, services and systems. While CLM brings enormous value in all of these areas, we tend to overlook the fact that the majority of a product’s lifecycle is post-sales. Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) brings equally powerful benefits in post-sales tasks such as deployment, validation, maintenance, support and service.

CLM Provides Scalable, Reliable and Fast Single Source of Truth

CLM provides a single source of truth for product configuration that is integrated and available to all major manufacturing IT systems, including Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. The advantage of CLM is that it is designed for scale, reliability and fast response. Customers use CLM systems to validate the millions of potential combinations of product features and options across product variants, versions and generations.

As customer demands for more choice, localization and customization continue to increase, CLM enables better customer experiences (CX) with immediate feedback on valid options and configurations based on a rich set of regular expression rules and conditional constraints that can guide customers to valid choices and the right product variant for their needs. CLM ensures that the information presented to customers is up-to-date and reliable and thereby ensures that only products that are available, manufacturable and deliverable are sold to customers.

Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) - A Valuable Source of Information for Post-sales Activities

As a repository of all potential product configurations encompassing all product variants and versions over multiple generations, CLM provides an extremely valuable source of information that can bring enormous benefits post-sales.

First, on delivery of the product, service or solution, the delivered configuration can be validated to assure customers that they have received the product they ordered. Over time, new features and capabilities will be offered with patches, updates and upgrades. This is not usually an issue when customers continuously upgrade to the latest version.

However, this is often not the case for many practical reasons. Some products have lifetimes that can span multiple decades where they have not been upgraded for some time. This can lead to a situation where the product cannot be directly upgraded because certain configurations or options are not available or need to be changed. CLM can help in this situation by facilitating a guided upgrade process with immediate validation of configuration options and choices at each step.

During maintenance, support and service, there can be older products that use components or configurations that are no longer valid. With CLM it is possible to identify which of these features is causing the configuration to be invalid with explanations of why there is a conflict. This provides support and service technicians with the data and insight needed to create a valid configuration.

CLM Enables More Efficient Servitization

One of the market trends that is becoming more popular is offering products as a service or “servitization.” In this business model, customers no longer buy and own products, but purchase the right to access a service based on the product. For the customer, they receive the same benefits, but now no longer need to concern themselves with the challenges outlined above. These now become the challenge, risk and cost for the service provider.

Servitization only increases the value of CLM. Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) provides a repository of product configuration information for each service provided. This can be leveraged by support in assisting customers with their inquiries on how to configure their service potentially with online tools that can guide customers in performing various tasks.

Maintenance and support are now no longer a customer concern, but an internal task. However, these can result in high costs and potential loss of customers if not performed promptly and correctly. Guided upgrades and service tasks based on step-by-step validation of configuration options and choices can ensure that risks due to configuration misalignments are mitigated.

The CLM capabilities to provide information on the potential causes of invalid configurations and explanations of rules that have been violated provides great value here. It ensures that any conflicts can be resolved quickly with minimal impact on customers ensuring a smooth experience for customers consuming the provided service.

CLM Provides Value throughout the Product Lifecycle

So, while Configuration Lifecycle Management (CLM) value in the development, sale and manufacture of products, services and systems has been highlighted many times, it is worth noting that the value CLM extends from product design to product decommission facilitating a smooth, end-to-end customer experience throughout the product lifecycle.

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