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Variant Configuration (VC) in SAP ERP helps thousands of manufacturers to offer highly-tailored products and solutions to their customers, while keeping manufacturing lead times short, similar to high-volume, repetitive manufacturers. However, sales teams are often still using paper catalogs and spreadsheets to create quotes and sales orders, which is a manual and slow process that can lead to many errors and cause rework. SAP and In Mind Computing have been working together to  bring Variant Configuration into the Cloud, in order to offer manufacturers’ sales teams an easy way to efficiently configure, price, quote, and order simple and complex products and complete solutions.

With an easy-to-use sales configuration process, manufacturer's internal and external sales reps are able to offer the right product combinations and options based on interactive collaboration with their customers. Quickly delivering an accurate quote based on customer need  while automatically checking technical feasibility and calculating price and margin helps manufacturers increase revenue and profitability. Gartner assumes that by 2015, an integrated automation of the Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) process will help companies grow sales by 10%. (See Gartner MarketScope for Configure, Price and Quote Application Suites from May 2, 2013).

End-to-End Solution “Sales of Configurable Products and Solutions”

SAP and In Mind Computing have been working together to offer the end-to-end solution “Sales of Configurable Products and Solutions” in the Cloud. This solution will help manufacturers sell configurable products more effectively. The easy-to-use solution can be implemented quickly and is offered with a monthly or annual subscription fee, without the need for any up-front investment in additional hardware and software. The solution is described in more detail in the SAP Solution Explorer and consists of the following solution capabilities:

Sales Planning, Opportunity, and Pipeline Management, based on SAP Cloud for Sales, helps manufacturers integrate sales planning, account management, and opportunity processing for fast quote cycle times and real-time pipeline visibility.

Sales Collaboration, based on SAP Jam, helps manufacturers collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to help deliver an efficient and streamlined selling process.

Solution Sales Configuration helps manufacturers move from simply selling products to selling complete solutions; increase margin, block out the competition, and increase sales revenue by providing true customer value. SAP Solution Sales Configuration (SSC) is a new SAP solution that offers manufacturers a faster, easier way to configure complex solutions and perform better guided selling and configured-product selection. While SSC was initially offered as an on-premise solution for SAP CRM, SAP ERP and the SAP Web Channel, SAP and In Mind Computing are now working on offering SSC in the SAP HANA Cloud.

Configure Price, Quote, and Order helps sales teams and channel partners accurately and efficiently configure, price, quote, and order simple and complex products and complete solutions. Based on Solution Sales Configuration (SSC) in the Cloud, SAP partner In Mind Computing has been working on Insight Selling Suite, which will help companies sell solutions smarter, faster, and at less cost in key B2B scenarios. The solution forms a comprehensive cluster of Cloud and on-premise applications based on the SAP HANA Cloud, providing core features such as visually configuring and pricing products and turn-key solutions, as well as channel collaboration and guided processes for requirements engineering or proposal generation. The Insight Selling Suite will leverage the full scope of a company’s existing On Premise and Cloud SAP systems: the built-in integration with SAP Cloud for Sales opportunity management, the utilization of existing SAP Variant Configuration product models, as well as the mapping into ERP sales documents will all help ensure consistent and efficient end-to-end processes.

The latest PC and iPad demos of the integration between SAP Cloud for Sales and the Insight Selling Suite can be found on In Mind Computing’s YouTube page. The screenshot below shows the easy-to-use visual quote configuration process, based on SAP UI5, a toolkit for HTML5 user interfaces.

The Insight Selling Suite has the same look and feel as SAP Cloud for Sales, so that the sales rep can leverage the integrated end-to-end process with a consistent user experience. In the SAP Cloud for Customer opportunity, the sales rep can add one or multiple products. From the opportunity, the  sales rep can launch the Insight Selling Suite configure, price, and quote process, copying key information like customer, contact, and products data from the opportunity to the quotation. The sales rep then performs the visual configuration of the product options, including the impact on the end price based on the values chosen.  If required, the sales rep can add new products to the quote from the product catalog and perform further configuration. After completing the quote, the data is transferred back to an external quote document in SAP Cloud for Sales, including the products and prices as well as the resulting proposal document which was generated.

From the external quote within SAP Cloud for Sales, the sales rep can again start the configure, price, and quote process in the Insight Selling Suite to make changes and updates. Insight Selling Suite also is completed integrated with SAP ERP quote and order processing. This enables features such as costing or ATP checks and allows direct creation of sales orders from within the Cloud.

In Mind Computing plans to release a free demo version of the Insight Selling Suite in August 2013. Version 1.0 of the Insight Selling Suite, including integration to SAP Cloud for Sales and to SAP ERP, is planned to be available on the SAP app store in November 2013.

Analytics for Configurable Products, based on SAP HANA and SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence (BI) solutions provides sales professionals with the ability to properly analyze sold options to support business decisions that enable profitable growth.  SAP has been offering a Variant Configuration Analytics consulting package, and is currently working on offering VC Analytics on HANA.  This new approach will leverage the speed of the SAP HANA In-Memory Computing platform and will also support the dynamic generation of analytics queries based on what is stored in ERP, without the need to model configuration options and values explicitly in a data warehouse. This will reduce the complexity of setting up and operating VC Analytics, without the need to do updates after every extension of the underlying configuration model. The solution is planned to be deployable with HANA On Premise side-by-side, with HANA in the Cloud or with Business Suite on HANA.

Benefits of Cloud based Sales Configuration

Sales of Configurable Products and Solutions in the Cloud by SAP and In Mind Computing offers manufacturers an easy-to-use process with a fast implementation based on a subscription fee without large up-front investments in hardware or software. Manufacturers can quickly leverage their existing configurable products set up in ERP Variant Configuration (VC) for their sales front office users and channel partners. The solution helps them speed up sales cycles and make selling more efficient in order to improve revenue and profitability.

Manufacturers will protect their investment in ERP VC product models and ERP quote and order processing for their sales back office and make what has already been set up available to their sales reps and channel partners. Using Sales Configuration in the Cloud built on SAP technology, leveraging the existing SAP configuration engines, and pre-built integration to SAP Cloud for Sales and SAP ERP saves manufacturers significant migration, integration, and ongoing maintenance effort necessary when moving to standalone SFA and sales configuration applications in the cloud.

Further, a solution built on the SAP user interface and integration technology ensures a consistent user experience and smoother end-to-end process, compared to the potentially inconsistent look and feel associated with trying to implement different standalone applications in the cloud.

Sales Configuration in the Cloud from SAP is here.