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2005-02-04 - Mankato, Minnesota, USA: Firepond, Inc. has announced the general availability of its Interactive Configurator Suite (TM) (ICS) version 12.5.1. This release features improved usability and several enhancements made in response to user feedback received during a user conference last fall.
The ICS release also contains enhancements to accommodate Firepond's new CPQ (TM) OnDemand for salesforce.com. The Firepond OnDemand application is used by salespeople, via a Web browser, to configure, price, quote, and propose complex products and services.
Firepond's ICS provides the tools needed to create and maintain the product configuration data, whether it's for a robust enterprise sales system, or the Internet-enabled OnDemand application. Firepond also offers data maintenance services for companies that prefer to outsource their data work.
Firepond have developed ICS over 20 years. The company says it has evolved into the most powerful yet easiest to use product configuration data maintenance tool available. Data entry personnel do not need to be programmers, and, as the rules are easy to create and understand, there is less chance for error. And if there is an error, it is easier to locate and correct. The Product Data Tester (PDT) allows the data to be tested to ensure it produces the desired results.
"This release of ICS shows Firepond's ongoing commitment to its customers as well as a commitment to strengthening the new OnDemand product," said Firepond's VP of Engineering, Craig Christiansen. "We are excited to offer these products to companies who want to arm their salespeople with all the data needed to accurately configure, price, quote and propose products and services to prospective customers."
Configure-Price-Quote OnDemand for Salesforce.com
Reflecting the growing influence in the CRM market of on-demand services, and in particular the growth of Saleforce.com, Firepond also recently announced the general availability of its Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ (TM)) OnDemand application for salesforce.com. The new version 1.5 adds enhanced Quote and Proposal creation to the existing Configuration, Pricing, and Reporting capabilities of the Firepond OnDemand product.
Salesforce.com provides customer relationship management (CRM) including lead management, opportunity management, activity management, and sales analytics for companies of all sizes. It is used by approximately 12,500 customers - 195,000 paying subscribers world-wide. The Salesforce.com application is accessed via the Internet using common Internet browsers.
Firepond says that OnDemand seamlessly plugs into Salesforce.com Enterprise Edition to yield the most comprehensive and powerful hosted lead-to-order system available. Salesforce.com customers can now experience the benefits that come from being able to configure complex products and services in minutes or hours rather than days, weeks or months. The latest release allows users (typically salespeople) to develop a detailed quote including the ability to apply discounts, charges, and fees. It also provides a set of dynamic reports that can be printed as a professional proposal for the user's customers. The tie-in between Saleforce.com and Firepond should fill a gap which previously existed in Salesforce.com's range of services. These focused almost exclusively on the 'traditional' CRM functions relating to customer management.
Firepond CEO Doug Croxall said, "Firepond OnDemand provides significant cost savings over traditional highly-customized configuration systems. There is no software distribution, no hardware expenditures, and limited support requirements. Companies considering deployment of a selling system featuring a product configurator will be impressed with the latest Firepond OnDemand release. The Firepond OnDemand system combined with the powerful CRM capability of Salesforce.com provides a robust system that can be deployed in weeks rather than years."
Croxall continued, "The hosted solution concept allows Firepond to offer its configuration application to many small- and mid-market companies that previously could not afford the initial costs associated with a selling system designed to solve complex product and service configurations."
Firepond-Intelliquip Partnership Brings Configuration Technology to the Fluid Handling Industry
A partnership created in 2000 between Intelliquip and Firepond, Inc. has yielded a unique software application that has significantly streamlined the sales process for complex pump configurations.
Firepond's ICS includes several APIs which have allowed many companies to integrate the configuration engine within their own applications. The availability of these APIs is what allowed Intelliquip to seamlessly integrate Firepond's product into their own product.
The Intelliquip Solutions(TM) software suite was developed to assist manufacturers of complex engineered-to-order pumps and other fluid handling equipment to intelligently select, quote, and process orders for their products. The suite includes the Intelliquip Configurator (TM) which utilizes Firepond's configuration engine.
The result is a product configuration tool built specifically for complex pump configuration. "In the traditional user-vendor relationship, knowledge about pump selection and configuration often resides in the sales engineer's know-how, and in the company's price books, spreadsheets, and databases," Intelliquip President Dave Brockway said. "The salesperson or application engineer typically acts as 'interpreter' of this product knowledge, taking the user's conditions of service and then determining the best pump for the application. Once the right pump type and size is selected, it is configured and priced. This process may take two hours, two weeks, or two months to generate two or three proposals."
Brockway continued, "By comparison, when adequate information is provided in a user-friendly and easily searchable online mode, much of the pump selection and evaluation of performance data and configuration information can be done by the user so that comparisons can be made. This can dramatically decrease the time required by users to evaluate pump options, and it can streamline the process for vendors and users to work together to develop detailed and accurate specifications, engineering data, and pricing."
The configuration of a pump is accomplished through a rich set of rules validation, including application guidelines, component interface rules and pump selection constraints. The data driven interface minimizes the requirement for customization of the user interface. The system supports complex pricing structures including price by percent of total, control of discounts on individual items, price option as a function of pump characteristic, currency support, and customer specific discounts per product line.
A key component to a successful configuration application is accurate data. Intelliquip has integrated tools from Firepond's ICS into its own tool called Configuration Knowledge Builder. The tool allows users to create and maintain product configuration databases. It includes product option definitions, application guidelines, component interface rules and pricing generation and maintenance.