Developing separate or integrated configurators? A longitudinal case study

Linda L. Zhang*, Sara Shafiee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Configurators have the potential to revolutionize the business processes of Engineering-to-order (ETO) companies. Despite their positive impacts on ETO companies’ operations and strategies, there is a paucity of empirical investigations examining the development processes and practices of configurators, in particular integrated configurators. We, thus, carry out a longitudinal case study in a large ETO company to study and compare the characteristics and dynamics of the development process of an integrated sales and technical (ST) configurator with these of a sales configurator and a technical configurator. First, the findings uncover the nature of the integrated ST configurator development process in terms of development team formation, development planning activities, processes and activities that went wrong, and unplanned events and their handling. Second, performance evaluation with respect to several criteria contributes to a holistic picture of the development process of the integrated ST configurator. Based on the findings, we further shed light on managerial implications including the business process changes associated with the application of the integrated ST configurator and the
need of having a clear, comprehensive project plan before development. To conclude, our study is expected to broaden ETO companies’ understanding of the development processes of integrated configurators and to guide them to make wise decisions in developing configurators.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108517
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Volume249
Number of pages17
ISSN0925-5273
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Integrated configurators
  • Engineering-to-order
  • Longitudinal case study
  • Project planning
  • Configurator development

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