Customers' demand for higher variety, and the intensification of competition drive many companies to embark on a mass customization strategy. Mass customization aims to fulfill individual customer requirements at prices that are sufficiently low to target a mass market. The satisfaction of herogeneous customer rquirements results in a high level of product variety, which can have a detrimental effects on operational performance. In a mass customization environment, variety-induced complexity can be defined from the persectives of the company, the supply chain, and the customers.Within this project, a set of concepts that enable mass customizers to cope with variety-induced complexity has been developed. For the management of internal complexity, reactive and proactive approaches are required. It is demonstrated that the reaction to the internal variety-induced complexity can be achieved, if companies apply variety management strategies in a specific sequence. The proactive management of complexity, however, can be attained through the implementation of a comprehensive key metrics system that combines the product and process views.
From the supply chain perspective, a matrix-based tool enables the analysis of variety-induced complexity. The tool basically identifies the outsourced components that drive complexity to increase,. The different transitions on the matrix show how the mass customizer can stabilize supply chain operations.
An exploratory study at a Germany-based company from the medical engineering industry is carried out to check the applicability of the concepts and tools.
Finally, from the customer perspective, the complexity that emerges during the product selection process can be reduced suing adequate configuration systems. Therefore, in the project, state-of-the-art configurators are analyzed by means of a morphological box. Then, a conceptual framework is developed in order to guide mass customizers in the design of configuration systems that reduce the complexity of the choice process from the customer's perspective.