CPQ? CLM? CAS? What we are talking about? - Find out more.

The Sofon Glossary

That's what we're talking about.

After Sales Management

A customer relationship does not end with the purchase of a product. The term “After Sales Management” describes downstream offers by the manufacturer or service provider. This includes, for example, updates and add-on products, complaint, parts and repair services as well as instruction and maintenance. The aim is to bolster customer loyalty.

All-in-one solution

An all-in-one solution means a product that meets the customer’s needs by including and integrating all necessary system components.


BITKOM steht für Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien e. V. Es handelt sich dabei um einen Branchenverband für Vertreter der deutschen Informations- und Telekommunikationsindustrie.


CAD stands for Computer Aided Design, zu Deutsch computergestütztes Konstruieren. An appropriate software (configurators) generally used in the design and development of complex products. 


CAS stands for Computer Aided Selling and describes a software-based system used to support sales. It provides for a systematic approach that results in increased sales.


Management Change management refers to processes within a company aimed at ensuring that changes to products or processes occur in a controlled manner and are documented. 


CLM stands for Configuration Lifecycle Management and describes the management of all specified product configurations and all configurations of associated business processes applied during the product life cycle.

Complexity costs

If a product exists in multiple versions, this is referred to as complexity. In contrast to standard products, this complexity results in higher costs, as a consequence of more complex production processes for example. The sum of all costs incurred by the multiplicity of variants -- with respect to development, production, service, etc. -- is referred to as the complexity cost.

Component Providers (alternatively: Suppliers)

A component provider or supplier is an industrial enterprise or retailer that supplies the company with parts for further processing.


Configuration or product configuration refers to the composition of a product in terms of its functional and physical characteristics. This often involves the use of software -- a product configurator.


A configurator or product configurator is a type of software used to tailor a product (to meet a customer’s specific needs). The software is used primarily in preparing a tender that includes a variety of products and services.


CPQ stands for Configure Price Quote and denotes a software structured by sales and tendering processes. It ensures that an order is prepared correctly in terms of the composition of desired products. 


CPS stands for cyber-physical systems and refers to the relationship between software, information technology and mechanical components. Data transfer as well as monitoring and control of, for example, mobile devices and machines (such as robots) occur in real-time via the internet.


CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, or simply: customer care. This involves a holistic, systematic approach to planning, implementing and documenting all interactive processes with customers. 

Design to Value

Design-to-value refers to product development oriented toward both customer needs as well as the challenges posed by a changing market. It serves to either increase a product’s value to the customer or to reduce product costs


In commercial terms, diversification refers to the strategic expansion of a company’s portfolio. It can be in relation to markets, products and/or services.


E-business (Electronic Business) involves business processes that are performed, where possible, by electronic means. This is accomplished with the aid of digital information technology. Typical e-business fields are procurement (e-procurement), sales (e-shop) as well as trading via digital networks (e-marketplace).


E-commerce refers to the electronic processing of transactions, i.e. the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet. 


ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and describes timely and needs-based planning and management of resources such as finance, personnel and logistics. The goal is the optimisation of operational processes. Suitable software is often used for this purpose.

Guided Selling

Guided Selling is a process that assists a potential buyer in the selection of a product that meets their needs. This software functions as a guide to help sales staff direct the customer through the selection and configuration process and ultimately to a purchase.

Identical components strategy

In applying the identical components strategy, certain modules (where circumstances permit) are used not just in one product but in many. Identical components can even be used interchangeably across multiple brands.

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0, sometimes referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, is the linking of industrial production with modern information and communication technology. It allows customers and business partners to be integrated into business processes. 

Innovation Management

Innovation management encompasses the systematic planning, guidance and control of innovation in organisations. An important part of this is the assessment of an innovation’s commercial relevance.


An interface is an element of a communication system and in software engineering is a logical point of contact in a software system. A distinction is drawn between module interfaces and hardware interfaces. Data and commands are transmitted via interfaces.

Lean Management

Lean management follows the basic principles of decentralisation and the simultaneous performance of multiple tasks It encompasses all cognitive principles, methods and techniques for the efficient design of the entire value-added chain. 

Mass Customisation

Mass Customisation describes the principle of mass production tailored to specific customer needs. By applying this production concept, the manufacturer benefits from the (cost) advantages of process-driven mass production while also catering to the customer’s desire for customisation. Modular systems, which can be used by the customer to assemble a product according to his needs, are a common element in this concept. 


Modular refers to a complete system consisting of various modules, components or elements. If the individual parts are compatible in terms of their form and function, they can be assembled together.

Modular strategy

Modular strategy uses an approach in which as few components as possible are used in creating as many product variants as possible. 


Modularization means the division of a whole into individual parts, so-called modules. These modules are also referred to as components, elements or structural elements. If individual modules are compatible in terms of their form and function, they can be joined together or interact with each other via interfaces.

Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence refers to a management philosophy oriented around customer needs, quality and efficiency. It involves superior processes and procedures that result in lower costs or better outcomes compared with those of other companies. 

Order configurator

Based on the products to be produced, the order configurator software creates a detailed bill of materials/parts list. It is essential that the lists be complete and correct.

Order Processing Time

Order processing time consists of the period between the time the order is registered as well as actual execution of the order until the point in time when it is shipped. Particularly with regard to the first step -- registering an order -- use of a product configurator can save on processing time. 

Parts list generation

The preparation of parts lists is one of the most important processes at a manufacturing company. It involves a structured listing of the materials needed for the production of an object.


PDM stands for product data management and describes the way data and process management is organised. It involves an integration platform for all IT applications that produce or utilise data.


PIM stands for Product Information Management and refers to the centralised and media-neutral management and supply of product information. This is made possible through appropriate centrally managed IT systems.


PLM stands for Product Lifecycle Management and describes storage and management specific to a particular company for all the information generated during the course of the product life cycle. Data are collected starting with product development through production and sale and on through to servicing. This occurs using standardised methods, processes and organizational structures.

Price configurator

The process configurator is a software system used to quickly and correctly calculate prices for complex products tailored to specific customers. It is a useful aid for sales staff and is used mainly for products that come in multiple variants.

Processing Time

The processing time for an order describes the period between the time an order is placed and receipt of the product. It encompasses, therefore, the sum of the time required for processing and transport as well as waiting periods.

Product Architecture

Product architecture describes the systemic relationship between the functional structure of a product and its physical structure. It answers the question as to how a product is put together and from what -- in other words, what function is meant to be served by which structure (sub-assembly, component).

Product catalogue

A product catalogue is a collection of information on a range of products or services. It may be supplemented by technical information, illustrations or photographs. 

Product Configuration

Product configuration is accomplished with the help of an appropriate type of software: the product configurator. It involves selecting and combining a given set of components in order to assemble a product. The software performs a plausibility check to monitor the suitability and feasibility of a particular product mix or composition. 

Product Configurator

A product configurator is a type of software used to tailor a product (to meet a customer’s specific needs). The software is used primarily in preparing tenders involving complex products in multiple variations.

Product familiarity

Product familiarity refers to the knowledge acquired by the customer about a specific product or group of products. It may relate, for example, to the design or functionality of a product or the materials or technologies it employs.

Product Model

A product model refers to an integrated data model that compiles all relevant information relating to the process of developing a product. If in addition to the development process, information is also collected on sales, applied operation and disposal, it is then referred to as an integrated product model.

Product Visualization

Product visualization is the visual, 2 or 3-dimensional presentation of products of all types. The display on a computer is provided by means of specialised software programmes. 

Solution Provider

Companies that describe themselves as solution providers supply not just a product but an all-in-one solution. The final product is supplemented by and integrates all required system components.


Standardization means harmonisation in accordance with a specific pattern. This can involve measurements, types, procedures or structures, for example. These are used to create uniform standards that contribute to improved efficiency of operating processes.

Tender configuration

Tender configuration is a system for quickly preparing error-free tenders. The use of this software makes the most sense where multiple versions of a product customised for individual customer needs are involved. Because all relevant information for preparing the tender is compiled in the system, no internal coordination is required.

Tender configurator

The tender configurator is a tool used to prepare a tender correctly and in conformity with applicable rules. The software uses question-and-answer lists, which incorporate information about product portfolio as well as business processes, to prepare the tender on a step by step basis. This process also takes into account things such as product options, (financing) provisions, potential discounts as well as services.  

Tender Preparation

Preparing a tender comprises itemisation of the products and services to be provided as well as calculation of the price to be paid for such products and services. This process can be simplified through the use of software specifically designed for this purpose. 


UDF stands for user defined feature. UDFs are generated if the elements in stock in the CAD/CAM/CAE system do not meet the customer’s requirements (for ex. in terms of the form or size requested by the customer). Usually the user-defined elements are combinations of existing options. 

Value Creation

The creation of value is the objective of production operations. When individual materials or components are assembled into a product, the value of the whole is greater than the aggregate value of its individual components. 

Variant configurator

A variant configurator is a software system used to identify and assess variants in the product mix as well as their impacts on the configuration of production systems. 

Variant Management

Variant management describes a holistic approach used in dealing with multiple versions of a product or service. This management system is used to keep the range of products at a manageable level.  


The acronym VDMA stands for the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau [German Engineering Association] e.V. With its roughly 3,200 members (as of 2017/18), the VDMA is according to its own information the largest mechanical engineering networking organisation in Europe. As such, it represents the interests of its mostly medium-sized member companies.


Visualizations or illustrations are used when it is difficult to communicate relationships logically or in written form. A pictorial illustration or diagram serves as a clarification and makes the material easier to understand.

Work plan configurator

A work plan configurator (software system) can be used to generate a schedule of tasks associated with an order. A work plan comprises, among other things, costs, time involved, functions and required qualifications.

Work plan generation

Work plan generation includes the systematic listing of the actions required to execute an order or partial order in the correct technological sequence. This includes the time required and the nature of the capacities needed.