Development and implementation of product configuration systems - a change management perspective

Morten Møldrup, Niels Møller

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Product configuration systems (PCS) are IT-based expert systems, which contain product information and knowledge and in turn provide the basis for automating the decision-making processes in the order acquisition phase. Thereby PCS support and streamline the efforts of an organisations sales force in translating customer demands into customized products within a bounded range of product variation. Supported by a PCS the sales representatives are empowered to configure products without having to consult experts about product specific dependencies. Although several research projects have been carried out within the field of PCS, these efforts have primarily been focused on technical aspects. Based on experiences gained from twelve case studies in the context of the PETO (*) project, this article therefore sets out to broaden the scope of the PCS field to embrace managerial and organizational aspects and understandings as well. Within managerial and organizational research studying information systems in general and expert systems in particular the degree of success in developing and implementing such systems is known to depend closely upon the project team in charge and their capability of understanding, navigating in and acting upon the social context in which the development of PCS takes place. Especially dealing with resistance towards change among experts and users is a core activity to handle carefully when planning and carrying out such projects. Therefore the focus of this paper is the employment of a change management perspective with emphasis on preventive initiatives taken to deal with possible expert and user resistance. In this respect the analysis reflects that the actual practice of change management in the twelve companies to a large extent is based purely on past experience and common sense. But although the actual practice therefore is implicit and non-formalised, these change management related considerations and actions are still found to contribute to the overall successes of the PCS projects. Thereby this paper brings the research community in the field of PCS as well as existing and future adopters of the PCS technology a step further in understanding, which managerial and organizational reflections the PCS projects call for in order to enhance the likelihood of success in developing and implementing PCS. Conclusively we state that project teams involved in PCS projects can enhance their likelihood of success by paying a stronger attention to the notion of change management. Keywords: product configuration, expert system, information system, change management, user participation, expert resistance. (*) PETO refers to the Project of Product Configuration Systems, Economy, Technology, and Organisation, which was funded by the Danish Technical Scientific Research Counsel and conducted in collaboration with The Centre for Product Modelling at the Technical University of Denmark from February 2003 - December 2004. (www.productmodels.org).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Economic, Technical and Organisational aspects of Product Configuration
    PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
    Publication date2004
    Publication statusPublished - 2004
    EventInternational Conference on Economic, Technical and Organisational aspects of Product Configuration Systems - Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
    Duration: 28 Jun 200429 Jun 2004

    Conference

    ConferenceInternational Conference on Economic, Technical and Organisational aspects of Product Configuration Systems
    LocationTechnical University of Denmark
    CountryDenmark
    CityKgs. Lyngby
    Period28/06/200429/06/2004

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