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Nathan Bonner

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Written By

Nathan Bonner

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December 11, 2017

Configuration Services: Bringing Designs to Life for Clients

The job of a designer is complex. In the case of a designer or architect that plans office spaces, the quoting and CET Designer software is a tool that simplifies the design, specification, and selling process for businesses with configurable products, such as office furniture.  As an all-in-one space-planning utility, it allows users to focus on the visual picture while the program handles the technical requirements.

As a Configura premier implementation partner, OST provides the project management, development and quality assurance resources that help manufacturers create and publish CET Designer Extensions and Catalogs for their products. We have helped manufacturers of all sizes leverage the power of CET Designer to increase revenue on sales, increase efficiency for quote and order preparation, and decrease cost by reducing or eliminating quote/order entry errors.

We went to the subject matter expert, Nathan Bonner, Configuration Consultant at OST, to hear firsthand how configuration tools makes specifying and selling products fast and easy, while reducing cost and errors.

Q.How do the navigation and specification tools in CET shorten the design, quote, and order entry process?

A.The CET program enables designers to interact with a planning software in a way that is similar to their actions in a reaConl space. The idea is that if you pick up a chair and put it into a physical space, the program lets you pick up a chair and place it into the virtual layout just as easily. The navigation is as interactive and intuitive as possible, so extensive training is not necessary. The rules and guidelines are written into the software, so designers can focus on creating the perfect layout for their client rather.

 

Q.Why does Configura CET offer custom extensions?

A.For many of the larger office furniture manufacturers, extensions are a way to create an exclusive tool for the dealers, designers, and architects that sell their product. The company is able to create a custom experience for their specific products, all on the back of the Configura product and the features and benefits that entails. The dealers and designers can purchase the extensions as a part of their Configura subscription, so they are able to carry multiple extensions for various manufactures.

 

Q.How do the presentation tools, such as layouts, renderings, and virtual reality help express the customer’s vision?

A.In order to do this, it is important to understand where the industry has been. In the early 2000’s, the typical sales presentation was a written description of the products proposed for a space. Fabric, wood, and paint swatches would accompany the stock photo of the item. For example, when presenting chair options, the fabric swatches would be help up against the standard brochure photo of the product. Basically, clients just had to use their imagination to picture the final product. There wasn’t a complete rendering of  your fabric on the chair, much less a custom rendering of an installation of an entire office building.

In addition to creating a spec list of product, and confirming all installation rules are followed, CET Designer can quickly wrap every product on the layout in the customer preferred swatches and finishes. The scheme can be applied to the entire block of product. Everything that is paintable we can use a color for and everything that is fabric we can use actual patterns that are available to order. The customer is able to see a fly-through of the proposed space, even virtual reality tours. You can print 3D models of your design and bring them in for a presentation. The ability to be able to create the submission drawings and the proposal drawings in an easy template along with the drag and drop feature speeds up the process of creating a beautiful submission. As supposed to having to piece something together in word or excel. It’s a very efficient way to put together a proposal.

 

Q.How does the rules-based product configuration allow designers and architects to focus on capturing customer requirements and the creative process. rather than verifying product capabilities and limitations. 

A.Designers want to create beautiful spaces and work with product that enables them to create their vision quickly. That process is hindered by having to spend time in catalogs looking up rules, part numbers, and hardware. There is no appeal to the process of going to the book. “Let me be creative. Let me draw. Let me represent my vision on your space as quickly as possible.” By automatically checking rules, creating bill of material lists, and adding necessary hardware, the software removes those tasks from their plate so they can design the best space possible with less errors.

 

Q.What does easy conversion of design-to-quote or quote-to-order mean?

A.As the designer or architect adds product to a layout, the bill of materials and price is automatically generated. Not only does this reduce the potential for errors or missing parts, it greatly reduces quote time. No longer do you have to cross reference specification guides, pricing lists, and customer discount rates. Configura does it all automatically as the project is created in the design-to-quote conversion.  You can quickly review the quote that is created, make any necessary adjustments, and finalize the project.

Once a purchase order is signed, the quote can be easily converted to an order with no additional work. Configura integrates into your ERP or other business systems, which provides the ability to quickly convert and accepted quote into an order. It goes into the order entry system almost immediately, and sends back a confirmation order number. The confirmation lets dealers know that the order was received, vs throwing it over the fence and hoping it comes back at some point.

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About the Author

Hi! I’m Nathan Bonner. I joined the Configuration Services Group on 9/6/2016. My background is heavily focused on ERP with an emphasis on manufacturing operations and accounting/finance. I’ve worked extensively with Epicor ERP, Crystal Reports and MS SQL. Over the last nearly 20 years I’ve worked with many of the major industries in West Michigan – office furniture, automotive, medical device, distribution and financial services.
My wife, Heidi, our five children (ages 11 to 19) and I really enjoy the culture and cosmopolitan aspects of Grand Rapids and the many events and venues that allow us to connect with friends and the community.

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