How to Enable Your Dealer Network to Configure, Price and Quote Complex Products

A story of Columbus McKinnon´s journey from identifying the challenges to successfully launching an extended CPQ Solution

As a global manufacturer of material handling and motion control products, Columbus McKinnon (CMCO) is the second largest hoist company in the world and home to numerous brands, including Yale Hoists, Stahl Crane Systems, Camlok and more.

CMCO’s products fall into three core areas:

Industrial Products
Consists of both standard products and configure-to-order products, including manual products such as leather and hand-chain hoists, electric chain hoists, air hoists, rigging, clamps, and industrial winches.

Crane Solutions
Includes larger wire rope hoists, crane systems, and all the elements that go on an overhead crane, such as stoning, conducting wire rope, handlings, and drive systems, as well as jib and close track workstation cranes. Some products are standard, while a large percentage are both configured and engineered-to-order.

Engineered Products
Comprises linear and mechanical actuators, and rail and road business-related products such as train carriages. These products are also a mix of standard products, configure-to-order and engineered-to-order.

In addition to making these products, CMCO focuses on helping their customers solve business problems by helping them develop and implement complex applications.

Finding what’s needed easy & fast

To develop an extended CPQ solution was really driven by what CMCO saw as the evolving environment of digital tools. The “digital natives” in the workforce are demanding these tools as they transact in their jobs. With the knowledge that their competitors already had a robust CPQ tool, CMCO knew they needed to develop something similar in order to remain competitive.

With a core company value of, “Be easy to do business with,” the initiative had the added challenge of needing to be simple and intuitive for users of all backgrounds.

The Solution
CMCO decided early on that SAP would be their master data source containing configuration logic, pricing, customer master data, discount structures, and currency. Everything that fell under that master data element needed to be in SAP. Once that decision was made, the challenge became evident: how to take that SAP data and expose it out to the distribution channel in a web based environment?

Working with Configit, CMCO was able to extract all of their data out of SAP using Configit’s configuration engine, followed by building a user interface around that using the Configit tool set. The two defining characteristics of the Compass initiative that was launched in 2016, with a go-live in mid 2017, were the user experience and the configuration engine from Configit with SAP underlying it.

Compass 1.0

As a classic CPQ tool, Compass includes the pricing of both the customer and the channel partner, full quote package documentation, lead times to the product configured, and drawings. As you configure in Compass, a data string is created and used to develop a 3D model of the configured product. Customers can download these drawings and use them in their larger drawing packages, or wherever they are needed.

Compass 1.0 Challenges
While the user experience was satisfactory, it did not live up to CMCO’s standard. They wanted a tool that went beyond configuration, a truly digital platform that included configuration to digitally engage with their customers.

Compass 1.0 was running on Configit Quote 7. Knowing they needed to upgrade to Version 9 (the current version in 2017), they decided to revisit and rethink what a CPQ tool should do. With these challenges in mind, CMCO launched Project Apollo.

Understanding the Customer

Before kicking off this new project, CMCO wanted to be sure that they truly understood their customer journey. What do they need in a configuration tool, how do they want to interact with that tool, and what are the extended elements of CPQ that would help them deal with their end-customer? This 360 degree view of configuration and quoting not only provides a quote, but also provides the tools to engage and be successful in their business.

As part of the customer journey mapping, CMCO defined customer personas to be sure they understood what their requirements were, how they interacted, and what their expectations were to really make sure that they understood their journey. As they built up the Apollo release of Compass, they kept referring back to, “Does this meet the personas that we believe will be utilizing this tool, to ensure that when we give them the tool it truly does fit their needs?”

Project Apollo/Compass 2.0: The Benefits

CMCO’s customers recommended making finding what’s needed easier and faster, and to deliver products faster. Working with Configit’s partner Coolshop and their CoolSales platform gave CMCO the ability to create a unique access point to cover the whole CPQ process, as well as leveraging UX best practices to improve usability and look/feel, improved self-service inquiry tools with more model selection and filtering to help the user drive down to the exact right product for their application.

With advanced special functionalities, their customers can better capture where the specials were occurring, providing insight as to whether or not these “special orders” should become standard configuration options.

Building in engineering logic into the tool ensured all the configured elements work together and meet whatever engineering specs the customer has. This was a real demand from CMCO’s channel, enabling them to quote quickly, whenever the time of day, on their own.

With Compass 2.0, the user has the ability to manage their quote internally, do margin calculations, see gross pricing and distributor net pricing, and to offer multiple types of print-outs that not only provide a quote to purchase from CMCO, but a quote they can give to their end-customer.

While SAP continued in its role, Configit Quote became the backbone configuration engine where all custom coding lies. All user experience was redesigned and moved into CoolSales.

Additionally, CMCO integrated Product information Management (PIM) containing all product marketing data, including images, video, attributes and characteristics used on their website, in marketing material, and to supply channel partners with marketing material.

As customers configure a product, they get a visual experience of what they are configuring. If they don’t know why a bronze hook would be more important than a stainless-steel hook, for example, they can click and see value propositions on both. This type of a “one-stop shop” provides education and guidance throughout, not just configuration.

For more information and to see a live demo, you can watch our webinar on this topic by clicking here.