The Power of Precision – Experlogix and Microsoft Dynamics CRM accelerate customer quotes for FEI high-powered microscopes

Written By: Scott Rich of Experlogix

from April 9, 2013

When purchasing a car, there are a number of add-on options to choose from – the same is true for the multi-million dollar microscopes the Hillsboro, Oregon-based FEI Company manufactures. FEI makes electron-optics and focused-ion beam microscopes that offer precision imaging and three-dimensional characterization configured to the specific needs of different scientific industries including nanotechnology and semiconductor fabrication.

Tracking the complex and varied made-to-order specifications when creating sales quotes was not an easy task for FEI sales representatives. FEI had an existing quote and order system but the process had limitations.  It required use of about 20 different software tools and Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets.  It was slow, cumbersome, and difficult to maintain and lacking integration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Last fall, FEI got help in the form of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Their Microsoft Dynamics CRM software uses Microsoft .NET connected technologies to automate day-to-day tasks for sales, customer service, field service, call center, and marketing professionals.

The Configurator Need
“FEI runs an international business with various factories around the globe. We needed a highly flexible, scalable configurator that would help streamline our financial management and allow us to control our configurations very precisely. Moreover, we wanted a tool that would easily support the use of discount approvals as well as the processing of non-standard requests”, says Guido van Mier, Configuration Manager for FEI Worldwide.

After investigating several product configurator packages, FEI selected Experlogix for its integration to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and its scalable architecture. “We evaluated other solutions but in the end there was no decision; Experlogix was the logical choice for us as it is such a versatile tool,” says van Mier.

The Experlogix Solution
Experlogix was further able to fine-tuned FEI’s CRM system with its Experlogix Configurator.  The Experlogix Configurator automates much of the microscope quoting and configuration process.  The commonly ordered microscopes are preconfigured in the system so sales people can automatically generate quotes and proposals. They also get immediate feedback about whether an individual part is compatible with the overall microscope as planned. “It basically enforces logic onto quoting and ordering,” explains Mark Farley, IT Director for FEI Worldwide.

The Experlogix Configurator met FEI’s need to:

  • Control quote and order configurations of products and services precisely
  • Support discount approvals and non-standard requests
  • Provide accurate pricing in multiple currencies
  • Consolidate the needs of product administrators operating in different time zones
  • Create a “corporate memory” of product configurations

Sales people no longer quote and configure each instrument by consulting a spreadsheet and a diagram tree to match up parts that can and cannot coexist on the same instrument. All this information is now accessible through the single Microsoft interface. As a result, FEI Company has reduced quote times for even its most complex instruments and knows with certainty all quotes contain accurate product configurations.  Experlogix helps FEI consolidate product and service options, rules, and pricing into a single intelligent system – eliminating the need for paper catalogs and cumbersome-to-maintain spreadsheets. The configurator ensures the entire proposal or order is 100 percent accurate, guaranteeing a seamless quote-to-order process and higher customer satisfaction.

“Experlogix enables FEI to produce orders in just a fraction of the time previously required. We no longer have to deal with complex systems involving multiple software tools and hordes of Excel spreadsheets,” says van Mier.

FEI also appreciates the tight integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  According to van Mier, “Experlogix works harmoniously with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the combination of the two is quite powerful. We have tossed our old system overboard and have managed to get rid of at least 20 different programs and Excel sheets on the fly. As the multi-currency functionality is easy to set up in Experlogix, we were able to build a uniform solution that serves our global sales team so we now speak one common language in the company. In fact, we have even started training our agents and distributors to use Experlogix for quoting.”

“One additional very important consideration for choosing Experlogix was its capabilities of managing our administrative pains,” continues van Mier. “Multiple administrators operating in various time zones were putting quite a bit of stress on the system. Now our administrative departments work seamlessly around the world.” With Experlogix, there is now the capability to control which users have access to which information, support for automation of internal processes such as requests for quoting non-standard products and discount approval workflows.

“Simply stated, our business is running much more smoothly than before,” says van Mier. “Experlogix could handle all that we initially required and more. Just recently we incorporated logic that handles installation, warranty, additional warranty, and freight and duty. None of the other tools we considered came even close to the power of Experlogix.”