Analyze, visualize and optimize with Merkato

Merkato is the only CPQ solution that allows analyzes based on the Design Structure Matrix, sequencing, clustering and similarities. These innovative analysis and visualization tools ensure that solutions and quotes configured with Merkato meet the needs of your customers even better. Moreover, the resulting orders can also be put into production more easily!

We live in a time when scientific and technological developments follow each other in rapid succession. This offers enormous opportunities for sustainability, care and productivity, for example, but for companies this also means that their products and processes are becoming increasingly complex. The number of dependencies between requirements, functions, components and design parameters sometimes grows exponentially in modern systems. Quite a challenge to keep all this manageable!

Fortunately, our CPQ platform can capture the coherence of variants and options in complex products and projects, so that they can be sold without errors. However, due to this increasing complexity, we also see a number of areas for improvement for companies. We can play a major role in this with our partner Ratio, an innovative Dutch company that provides insight into the design process of complex systems. How can you benefit from this?

You have a CPQ solution, what else is there to gain?

Merkato often runs very complex configurations, which is why we recognise a number of trends. Trends that encourage us to look at how things can be even better, more efficient and more transparent! We mention three:

1. Identify dependencies

Many of our customers have difficulty getting a grip on the many dependencies among their products. Knowledge is often in people’s heads and is difficult to capture in a structured way. Let alone that everyone always agrees on how one possibility relates to the other. This can adversely affect the speed of implementation of a CPQ solution.

2. Sub-optimization

Merkato is extremely flexible and can be adjusted by the customer himself. This has many advantages, but can also lead to the model that is ultimately put into use being unnecessarily complex. Although it all works as those involved think it should work and the coherence within the product is correct, that does not mean that the chosen models and solutions are the very best.

3. Kaizen: continuous improvement

Merkato is a huge source of data. Sometimes (tens) thousands of business rules or constraints are needed to define a product range. Are you able to keep an overview of this, let alone gain insights from it? When this data is analyzed, visualized and interpreted correctly, it can benefit everyone involved in the production process. From sales and product management to purchasing. Small improvements based on that data will yield significant profits for the company in the long term.

A revolutionary addition to CPQ

To tackle the three common challenges above, we have developed a revolutionary solution together with our partner Ratio Computer Aided Systems Engineering. Ratio is a Dutch company that was founded on research at Eindhoven University of Technology. They provide tools, methods and expertise to support organizations in designing, analyzing and managing complex systems. Ratio has experience with the analysis of a wide variety of systems, ranging from bridges and locks to nuclear fusion power stations.

Together with Ratio, we integrated Design Structure Matrix (DSM) analyzes and visualization tools into Merkato. The DSM method is based on the methodologies and ideas of leading scientists, such as Professor Steven D. Eppinger of MIT Sloan, known for his work in product design and development. This method helps the user to visualize the coherence and dependencies between components within (very) complex systems in an understandable way and to automatically analyze them with state-of-the-art algorithms. With the right training, it is possible to determine points for improvement in the structures.

Sequencing & clustering

With the addition of the DSM methodology to Merkato, there is a step-by-step plan for even better analysis and optimization. That looks like this:

  • Variables and structures are converted from a matrix, or from the minds of the knowledge carriers, into a Merkato template or model.
  • Using the DSM method, dependencies between components in a complex system are visually represented.
  • The Merkato templates are analyzed to achieve sequencing & clustering optimizations. In this way, both the order of the components and tasks and their clustering based on similarities are extensively optimized.

The result? An even faster system without non-logical questions. The user makes the configuration in the most efficient way possible and receives a clear visual overview of the interrelationship of functions, options and items. This can serve as a basis for further modularization and optimization.

Similarity analysis

It does not stop with DSM analyzes and sequencing and clustering. With the addition of Ratio’s expertise, there is a world of possibilities to optimize using the data in Merkato. It is also possible to perform a similarity analysis on all your quotes and orders in the complete Merkato database, which determines the similarity between different entities. We can tweak this process on more than 10 parameters, resulting in very accurate similarity analysis. When interpreted correctly, the benefits are invaluable for product managers, sales managers, modularity engineers and many other stakeholders.

Some examples:

  • Similarities between products, configurations and quotations can be assessed. This allows better recommendations to be made based on the similarity between different product options. This increases the chance of a successful sale.
  • Merkato can propose new configurations more quickly and efficiently based on patterns in choices from previous configurations. That will save time!
  • By using similarity analysis properly, customers are ultimately presented with configurations and quotations that suit their needs. This increases customer satisfaction.

In summary, it can be said that a combination of all these approaches ensures that solutions and quotations can be offered to customers that meet their needs even better. And that these orders can also be put into production more easily! Would you like to know more about it? We would be happy to discuss this with you to determine what benefits your company can achieve with these analyzes and visualizations.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Generate more sales, make it easy to do business with your company and improve your profitability. Achieving commercial success means your business is aligned on what to sell and how you do that.
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Gent Gaston Crommenlaan 8,
9050 Gent, Belgium
Brussels Rue Picard 7,
1000 Brussels, Belgium
Liege Rue des Guillemins 139,
4000 Liege, Belgium
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