Using Excel to create a configurator tool to speed up quotations
The Client’s problem
Gericke Ltd. produce sifters, mainly for the food industry. Each model that they manufacture can have over 20 features that can be selected and various logical rules impact on which combinations are allowed. This, of course, means that the physical equipment can be tailored down to exactly meet their customers’ requirements; it also means that the pricelist is very complicated.
What they required was a spreadsheet-based configurator to be developed which would not only speed up the processing of quotations but use internal rules to ensure that invalid combinations of features were prevented. In addition, in the longer term, this would be used across other companies within the group without support from the Manchester site.
That’s where we came in.
How we solved it
Because this was a very complex process, the team at Gericke had already worked out all of the conditional logic that needed applying (“If Option 3 is a 1, 3 or 5, then Option 7 can be A or B, otherwise it’s C or D”) as they were doing that manually. Fortunately, this then meant that it was a relatively straightforward process to fit the necessary IF() Functions in place; less straightforward was the linking each of the various features to a set of “drop down” options in the main configurator because of the logical rules used.
The benefits for the client
That’s summarised in the following testimonial from Colin Arlott, Gericke’s General Manager who commissioned the work:
Colin Foster worked with Gericke Ltd to develop a spreadsheet-based configurator that made using a very complicated sifter price list much easier to use. There are over 20 features that can be selected and various logical rules disallowing certain combinations. The configurator has sped up our sales office processing of quotations and should eventually allow our sister companies within the Gericke group to price up their own quotations without needing support from us. We use the output of the configurator along with our CRM to formulate our quotations in a professional and effective manner.
Colin was easy to work with. He understood and clarified the brief efficiently and dealt with snagging promptly. The whole project took about three months from inception to go live. We shadowed the existing manual approach for a month and now have the confidence to rely on the configurator entirely.
I would recommend Colin for developing stand-alone spreadsheet tools for SMEs.