Benefits of an Intuitive and Natural Rules Engine for CPQ
November 7, 2019
Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) has become widely adopted as more product companies are digitally transforming their organizations to meet their “Industry 4.0” objectives. Most understand that in order to offer for dynamic configuration and pricing of their products that a global set of rules should be employed in order to control the experience and outputs.
In the CPQ software marketplace, you’ll find that most vendors will not necessarily show their rule language and admin platform until customers have gone through several sales calls and demos. Even then, customers get a small glimpse into the engine that drives their configurators. Why is that? Instead of an actual rules engine that can handle complex rules (think mathematical functions), most providers only offer a combination of bundles and filter rules, or they are just using custom code.
Filters will typically only be used to restrict which products or product options/features are available to place into a Bundle.
A Bundle is simply a collection of products or product options/features which will have certain pricing attributes associated with the Bundle to create pricing on a per-line-item basis.
This combination can work for many sales scenarios, but it simply won’t work for manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers that need to sell complex and highly configurable products.
CPQ software providers that claim to have a rules engine, often don’t! Typically these solutions will fall short because it takes in-depth understanding of development and the configurator in order to program complex interactions. Obviously, this approach results in hard-to-maintain, custom code and scripts.
The biggest pain point is change management. When you want to change a product option or add something completely new, you will be forced to go back to the vendor for professional services or bring a specialist on full-time to support your CPQ development efforts.
Custom code will have thousands of lines of code filled with if/then logic that can be hard coded and rigid.
The Takeaway: Neither filters and bundles nor custom code and scripting can be taken seriously for companies who wish to remain agile and scale their organization’s sales and manufacturing activities.
Our customers have complex products that demand complex rules. So, at KBMax we take a different approach than our competitors when we introduce ourselves and our solution to someone. Instead of hiding how we implement our logic, we begin the conversation by highlighting the value of our admin tool and rule language. We are proud of it and our customers love it. And, we think you will too.
To build rules in Snap, you simply drag blocks from the toolbox and snap them together to form logic statements. Snap thinks like you do. Need to set an image? Select and see the image right in the rule. Snap blocks contain dropdowns, color-pickers, buttons, etc. to make your job easier. It is simply genius!
Snap is reminiscent of Scratch, a platform developed at MIT that seeks to turn even young children into programmers. The language consists of individual blocks which you can drag out of a toolbox and connect to other blocks to create complex expressions and operations. Each place where Snap is used includes blocks that are contextual to the purpose of the rule. For instance, a configurator workspace will include blocks specific to the configurator you are modifying, while a workflow workspace includes blocks to specify states the quote can be in, as well as permissions and other workflow-related operations and settings.
Snap is designed to be easy to use for people of all skill levels, yet full-featured so complex tasks can be accomplished with ease. It is used in many places within the KBMax solution, including configurators, workflows, and outputs.
Usually it is hard to learn syntax that will limit what you can do and slow down your adoption and implementation. But in 2016 the world first got their hands on KBMax Snap, the revolutionary web & touch enabled visual rule language for developing business and product rules in enterprise software.
Snap is not limited like other text-based rule languages, it is Turing-complete, meaning it can build any advanced algorithm. A computer is considered Turing complete if it can solve any problem that a Turing machine (a system of rules, states and transitions) can, given an appropriate algorithm the necessary time and memory. When applied to a programming language this phrase means that it can fully exploit the capabilities of a Turing complete computer.
Our robust product rules and nesting of configurators allows for infinite product combinations to bring your custom products as close to configurable products as possible. Allow for visual configuration in 2D or 3D of complex items supported by in-context help, videos, and more for a rich, immersive user experience.
As the user configures the product, the price is dynamically updated based on selected options and established pricing and discounting rules. Any aspect of pricing, whether shipping, handling, taxes, or commission, can all be calculated and handled by the Snap rules engine.
KBMax workflow rules enable the details of the selected configuration to auto-generate a quote and all of its line-item details independently, or create one in your preferred CRM application, like Salesforce. Change management is no problem as quotes remain editable, including the KBMax configurator and generated data that will make its way back into the Quote.
Once the Quote is converted, the KBMax Snap advanced CPQ rules engine allows for the Order data to push into your ERP or PLM system to eliminate user entry and errors and to speed the transaction.
You can gain better control over the sales-to-order process by orchestrating workflows for:
The rules engine can also be employed to help the shop floor, installers, or the end-customer.
You can auto-generate accurate product visuals, CAD drawings, cut sheets, assembly instructions, Bill of Materials, and more. Now your teams can pick, assemble, and ship with confidence that the order is right since the details came directly from the salesperson or customer’s chosen configuration.
DJ is a long-time marketing consultant and technologist, helping companies with marketing strategy and marketing technology. He loves telling stories about applied technologies and the impacts it has on buyers.