Pot of GoldTis the season to rebuild your manufacturer pricing program.  By now many of you have one cabinet pricing program under your belt (maybe two), but the architecture is old, it doesn’t take advantage of the web like you’d like and adoption by your dealers is low.

But you built it before, so you can do it again faster.  Besides, the tools today are so much better, right?  It’s an interesting concept, and one that seems to hold logic at first, until you start really thinking it through. If you do your homework up front, inevitably you’ll come to the conclusion: building good software is at least a seven figure number, and your estimate will still most likely be on the low side.

Unless your trying to convince yourself that the pot at the end of the rainbow really does exist.

Good software in our industry means programs that cabinet dealers want to use (not just that you want them to use).  That’s really the trick.  The software has to be good enough for cabinet dealers to want to use it on their own without being compelled by you to use it.

When I was first starting out in this industry, I would have sworn that building good software could be done in a year or two – maybe three.  Boy was I wrong.  I can look back over the last decade and confidently say: “Good software takes about a decade to build – and it costs millions”.

Why Software Budgets Start too Small

There’s a tendency to send software vendors your pricing program, have a quick chat and voila, you have an estimate to recreate your pricing program for the web – easy peasy.  Companies will tell you that they can build your dream pricing program for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time.  Everything has changed with the Internet, they say.  This is a new world.  We can do things faster.  We can think in Russian and the missile will fire…(a little Clint Eastwood metaphor for you Firefox movie buffs).

Not only that, they’ll say you can get triple the amount of functionality for half the cost.  After the first year you’ll own it, control it and enjoy low maintenance.  Life will be beautiful again.

[in your mind, visualize a crowd of dealers chanting your name in wild unison as they express their undying love of your new, web-based pricing program]

Is the Estimate Half Full, or Just Half Empty?

In actuality, your estimate starts with just a few dribbles of water in bottom of the glass.  That’s because you most likely missed gigantic parts of the research and budgeting process for web-based software development.

The web is deceptively easy.  Software vendors have impressive graphics and design capabilities.  The wow factor is now commonplace.  But remember that’s the front-end (the user’s experience).  Don’t let that fool you on the complexity behind the scenes.  Take the nuances of how cabinet dealers operate, combine that with the complexities of cabinetry and then add a ton of browser idiosyncrasies on top just for fun. Those quick time-frames and reasonable budgets won’t look so quick and reasonable after you do your homework.

In Part 2 of Web Enabling Your Manufacturer Pricing Program, I’ll talk about the common pitfalls of establishing an accurate kitchen quoting and bidding software budget, as well as some strategies on how to avoid them.