Emilia Dunaj
Emilia Dunaj
Head of Technology Insights
April 2024, 10 min. read

If you’re starting a project for building a configurator for your customizable products, you might be looking for the best strategies to scope it. The better you prepare, the less likely you’ll encounter unexpected surprises affecting the timeline or budget. Therefore, with careful planning, the process can be smooth and successful.

We’ve crafted this guide to help you through each step, from your first ideas to the final touches of your project. Throughout, we’ll show you how to define a clear project scope, collaborate effectively with stakeholders, and ensure your input is valued throughout the process. 

By the end, you’ll be prepared to actively participate in creating a configurator that perfectly aligns with your business needs.

Let’s dive in and get you ready for a successful configurator project!

Customizable Product Configurator Project

Starting the journey with the initial brief

The initial brief is your first step to successful customizable product configurator. This starting point is where we learn about your needs and expectations. You don’t need every little detail at this stage, but a good overview of what you seek is crucial.

When writing your brief, tell us where your business is now and where you want this project to take it. Share any ideas you have, even if they’re broad. This helps the team get a clear picture of your vision and how to bring it to life.

We can leave discussions about the technical specifics like programming languages or cloud technologies for the later stages. This is more about the ‘big picture’–understanding your business processes, customer queries, and common issues. The more detailed your brief, the smoother the process to a perfect configurator will be.

What to include:

scoping for product configurator project

1. Your business goals

What do you want to achieve with your customizable product configurator? Are you looking to make sales easier, or do you want to give your customers an impressive interactive way to customize your products? Or perhaps you’re expanding into new target markets? 

Clarity on these objectives steers the entire project in the right direction.

2. Your current customization options and processes

What kind of personalized products are you offering? Analyze your current processes–understanding how these work helps in defining the configurator’s scope. Moreover, identify which customizable products or features can be automated within the application and which may need a human touch.

Find out the common problems and queries from your technicians and consultants. These insights help to anticipate potential user roadblocks and design a user-friendly customer experience. Discuss whether the tool should have a step-by-step flow or offer product customization with more flexibility. 

3. Your target users and their pain points

Who will use the configurator–your team, your customers, your distributors, all of these groups?

Identifying who will use the product configurator is vital in tailoring its features and functionalities. Typically, these users might include pre-sales engineers, sales teams, and your customers. Each group has unique needs, pain points, and access levels that the configurator must address.

For instance, pre-sales engineers might need a configurator that offers detailed technical customizations, while sales teams might prioritize ease of use and speed for client interactions. Shoppers, on the other hand, are likely looking for a user-friendly interface. Your configurator should allow customers to visualize their customized product.

4. Configurator inputs/outputs

These are the data points the system will receive and provide. Inputs might include customer selections or specifications, while outputs are the resulting product configurations and related data. Ensure you communicate what final deliverables you expect. For example, it could be a complete order, a quote, or a PDF output.

Also, consider what happens after configuration–revisiting configurations, data archiving, and whether the output changes.

5. Corner cases

These are unique scenarios that might challenge your usual business rules. Discuss any rare but critical situations that your configurator should handle. Decide whether the configurator will primarily handle regular sales processes or those special corner-case scenarios.

6. Integrations with other systems

Often, configurators need to work seamlessly with existing ERP, CRM, or other business systems. Furthermore,this integration is critical for data consistency and workflow efficiency. Consider how the data used in configurations can be reused or repurposed within your business. 

7. Your expectations

Finally, share what success looks like for you in this project. Consider what your configurator must do. Does it need to support advanced product customizations? Should it offer real-time pricing updates? These functionalities dictate the complexity and capabilities of your system.

Understanding and communicating stakeholder needs

In a project like this, you often have different people involved–each with their own ideas and needs. They often work for various departments and have different perspectives regarding the configuration process. Therefore, understanding and aligning their voices is crucial. Here’s why:

The challenge of diverse goals:

  • Different perspectives: You might have technical folks, marketing teams, salespeople, and more. Each group looks at the project from their own angle.
  • Finding common ground: Our goal is to find a balance that meets everyone’s needs without losing sight of the project’s main objectives.

Bringing ideas together:

  • Consolidating inputs: Brainstorm all these different ideas with your stakeholders and make sure they work well in the overall plan.
  • Ensuring alignment: Make sure everyone is aiming for the same goal, even if they have different views on how to get there.

You should also clarify how many people will be involved in the configuration and what their roles will be. But before we start, it’s helpful if your team can align on the main goals. This way, when we get together, we can hit the ground running, focusing on how to achieve these shared goals.

The scoping meeting to refine the vision

After you’ve shared your initial brief, the next big step is meeting with the project team. Consequently, this is your chance to dive deeper into your vision and get everyone on the same page.

Who should be involved:

  • From your side: Ideally, your Sales Manager, pre-sales engineer, and Operations Director should participate. They bring valuable insights from different aspects of your business.
  • From our side: We’ll have 3-4 key team members, including a Technical Lead, Project Manager, Designer, and Business Analyst. This diverse team ensures all technical and business angles are covered.

The goals of the meeting:

  • Discuss your brief in detail: We’ll talk about your brief, ask questions, and clarify any points that aren’t clear yet.
  • Understanding each other: It’s important that we fully understand what you need and you understand how we can make it happen.
  • Laying the groundwork: This meeting helps to set the foundations for your project, making sure we’re building exactly what you have in mind.

Before the meeting, jot down any questions or ideas you have. It could be about the features you want, concerns you have, or examples of what you like. The more we discuss, the better we can shape the project to fit your needs.

Scoping session for creating the blueprint of your project

If we think that we haven’t gathered enough information up until now, we’ll recommend a scoping session. This is a one or two-day workshop where we delve deeply into the nuances of your project. It’s an opportunity for our team to grasp the broader vision and specific needs, and for you to clarify your expectations and project objectives.

Why scoping is matter for product configurator

Why scoping sessions matter:

  • Detailing the project: We take your ideas and turn them into a detailed plan. This is where we decide on the features, timeline, and how it all fits into your budget.
  • Predicting time and budget: A well-planned scope helps us give you a clear idea of how long the project will take and how much it will cost.
  • Avoiding surprises: The more we define here, the fewer surprises we’ll have later on.

Outcomes you can expect from the scoping session:

  • A clear project plan: You’ll have full documentation that outlines our comprehensive plan, including the suggested configurator infrastructure and milestone scopes.
  • Mockups: Visual mockups to give you a clear idea of what we’re building.
  • Backlog: A detailed list of features and tasks that will be part of the project.
  • Offer: Following the session, we’ll present an offer based on the defined scope, detailing our proposed services, associated costs, and timeline.

In the scoping session, be as open and detailed as you can. If you have specific needs or concerns, this is the best time to bring them up. Consequently, the more information we have, the more accurate our plan will be.

It’s important that someone with a comprehensive understanding of your business is involved in this session. Therefore, appoint someone who is familiar with the ins and outs of your processes and customer needs.

By the end of the scoping session, we’ll have a definitive scope of the project. This forms the basis of our offer and guides the development process, ensuring we build a configurator that meets your exact needs.

Product customization data

The success of a custom product configurator largely depends on the quality of the customizable product data it handles. Here’s how you can ensure your data is up to the task:

What type of product data will be managed by the system?

Your system will likely deal with a range of data including product specifications, pricing, dimensions, and customization options. Moreover, this data needs to be accurate, comprehensive, and structured in a way that the configurator can effectively process.

How to prepare this data?

Start by rigorously cleaning your existing customizable product data. This means removing inaccuracies, duplications, and outdated information. Additionally, ensure the data is consistent and well-structured, fitting the configurator’s requirements.

Understand the complexity of your products. Can they be easily configured within set parameters? Furthermore, complex products might need a more advanced configurator with intricate rule sets.

Prepare your product data in a tool like Excel. This allows for easy manipulation and organization. Create clear, logical structures that reflect your customizable product range’s complexity. When you provide us with your spreadsheets post-brief, it helps streamline the analysis, as much of the logic is already outlined.

From concept to reality

Once we have a clear plan from our scoping session, it’s time to start turning those ideas into a working configurator. This is where the concept begins to take shape.

The steps to implementation:

  • Detailing the scope: We take the outcomes from our scoping session and start fleshing out the finer details.
  • Data verification: We’ll closely examine the data you provide, such as product details, to ensure accuracy and completeness.
  • Creating a prototype: For some projects we create a simple version of the configurator to show you how it can work.
  • Building the real thing: After everything is checked and agreed upon, our team gets down to the actual development.

The timeline from receiving the initial brief to starting the development can span from two weeks to three months. It usually depends on the project’s complexity and your decision-making process. Therefore, we work closely with you to ensure the timeline aligns with your needs and expectations.

→ You may also be interested in Product Configurator Benefits and ROI: Is It Worth the Investment?

Your role in ensuring project success

While a well-defined scope is crucial, a successful configurator project thrives on adaptability. New needs and challenges can emerge as we delve deeper. This flexibility is important, for example, for non-functional requirements–those behind-the-scenes features that ensure reliability and performance, even if they weren’t explicitly called out at the start.

By staying open to adjustments, we can ensure the final configurator perfectly adapts to your growing business needs. Moreover, It’s a collaborative effort, and your input throughout this evolution is key.

Your next step

Now, you know how to craft an informative brief of your expectations, needs, and goals. A product customizer is an exciting modern tool that will impress your customers, staff, and your competitors.  

Your insights and feedback are invaluable in shaping a configurator that meets your specific business requirements. Therefore, provide detailed, clear information throughout the project, and we’ll do the rest!

Your next step is to complete the form on our website to start a conversation about how we can help you sell more of your customizable product range.

→ Recommended reading: How To Build a Product Configurator: Everything You Need To Know