Bringing Furniture Configuration to Life

With the use of e-commerce services on the rise, many organizations have had to reinvent their selling process. With a large family of brands and more than 70 years in the furniture industry, Kimball International was seeking solutions to optimize the quoting, design and selling process of their configurable products.

This forward-thinking strategy would allow Kimball International to continue a long tradition of adapting offerings to ever-changing market conditions. Importantly, it would also address a growing need on the part of their designers and dealers. To successfully tackle this project, Kimball International needed to find a partner who could design, develop and implement CET Designer extensions that would drive immediate value for more than 100 product lines for two of their brands: Kimball and National.

And they wanted to accomplish this in the middle of a global pandemic.

Simplifying Furniture Specification

Industry leaders are digitally showcasing their product catalogs, enabling customers to easily interact with, personalize and purchase their products. To stay relevant and compete, Kimball International embarked on a multi-year software development journey to get their product portfolio into CET Designer — a comprehensive software tool that handles the full range of specification and design work.

Initially, the Kimball and National brands had separate internal development teams that were ultimately combined into one team within Kimball International. During the merge, the main priorities for the development team were established: quickly building cost-effective, high-quality CET extensions.

With those goals in mind, Kimball International recognized the need for additional development support and partnered with Configura. A two-year timeline was identified, if the team could utilize 20 CET developers working together to implement the software solutions for Kimball’s product lines. To reach that number of developers, OST joined the ecosystem of Kimball

International partners that would help build CET extensions by supplying 10 of the 20 developers while also helping train Kimball International’s internal team in the Scaled Agile Framework for enterprises (SAFe).

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Aligning Teams for Success

One of the greatest challenges for this project was knowing how to approach having three separate organizations work together toward one goal with tight timeline and precise budget parameters. It was understood that Kimball International was looking to not only provide their internal technology team with support and expert training, but also break into the CET marketplace to gain a competitive edge.

To accelerate progress, Configura focused on making architecture decisions, while OST focused on implementing training and development processes to drive immediate value for Kimball International’s complex products. Using an Agile methodology and (SAFe) were crucial for gaining alignment across teams, increasing transparency and maximizing efficiency for delivering successful CET extensions.

Some of the key SAFe practices that OST implemented for the project included:

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Training: SAFe for Teams

Training everyone involved in the project, including Configura and Kimball’s teams, at the same time in the same (virtual) space meant that all the teams involved were aligned around a common purpose and shared a deep understanding of how all of the complex work would get done.

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Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF)

WSJF is a work prioritization formula used to organize and order complex jobs to produce maximum efficiency and ROI.

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Program Increment (PI) Planning

PI planning ensures that every team can collaborate and plan at the same time. This allows teams to identify and understand dependencies in real-time before any concerns interfere with the project’s progress.

Our team was able to cut the anticipated two-year plan down to slightly over 15 months.

Our cross-functional experts plugged into Kimball International’s business, trained and certified XX of their employees as SAFe practitioners and proceeded to leverage SAFe practices to bring Kimball and National’s CET extensions to market faster and with extremely high quality, providing new revenue channels.

Customer Voice

"SAFe for Teams [training] completely changed our course on how we went about identifying what product to develop, and how we went about developing them. We now had a clear picture on what was going to provide the most ROI the fastest amount of time."
Manager, eTool Applications | Kimball

OST: Your CET Extension Development Partner

Despite undertaking all this work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the result of a highly collaborative and transparent project, full of rich communication, was a growing catalog of fully functional CET extensions, a well-trained internal development team and more opportunity for growth. Creating and managing these extensions for CET Designer will shorten sales cycles, increase customer satisfaction and drive higher ROI for over 100 of Kimball International’s product lines. At every step of the process, our team worked closely with stakeholders and other teams to utilize skillsets for maximum effectiveness.

And we can do the same for your organization.

Facing Business and Technology Challenges?
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At OST, our unique expertise in strategy, design, software development and technical services helps companies reorient their focus onto consumers, align stakeholders across departments and leverage technology to gain a competitive advantage. Our Configuration Services Team is ready to help you move forward and start driving new revenue. Contact OST today!