Yesterday I was visiting TCday, the Tacton yearly customer event. There were many inspiring speakers all with their version of how the configurator currently is delivering a massive business value. One of the new insights for me was one tiny piece of Nils Olsson’s presentation:

“When we looked on the success rate of the deals that we were pursuing there was absolutely not a link between more requirements entered and more orders being won. It was actually the opposite. We basically saw that the fewer things you entered the more deals you got, which is a really weird thing. That basically means that the less we know about what the customer wants, the happier he is. It doesn’t make sense.”

But it actually makes sense. The more one “locks down” the configurator, the less optimal solution will be presented. Lesson learned; let the configurator do its job and listen only to the high level requirements – don’t specify the solution.

The key thing is to understand the customers need. This of course requires a model that asks questions about usage, not about the product. From another customer I heard the following “…from the beginning I wanted a black box where we just asked the customer about the problem he was trying to solve, without even discussing the product…”  This made me think.

When one has a need based set of questions, should the propagation be turned off until all requirements are specified? Does the propagation steer the customer away from the optimal need specification? Will that mislead product development in understanding the customer? Will it lower the hit-rate of the offering?

Only when one understands the needs will it be possible for product management to listen in on the market and develop the product to fulfill tending requirements.

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