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more of a "how would you" kind of question as I'm hitting a wall with my own ideas.

We have, at present, around 4000 simple products that makeup approximately 20 configurable products. Each simple product has around 5-7 custom options each and the configurable side of the product is used to handle what we call the "big 4" attributes for our business, in this case:

  1. Size
  2. Quantity
  3. Lead time
  4. Material

That returns 1 product, obviously, which then has an array of custom options. Currently, managing this is a little tedious, and loading the parent product is slow enough as it is. It's not a scalable solution and as we add more products it's only going to get slower to load and harder to scale. We sell printed items, available in a range of sizes, quantities, on different materials and at different delivery speeds. Once you've established this you then need to choose "optional extras" on the product like finishing methods etc.

Can anyone suggest alternative ways, mainly aimed at site speed and ease of management to achieve a scalable solution? Unfortunately, I've already tried "let's simplify our product offering" and it's a no goer!

Any advice is appreciated as we're about to add nearly 1500 products across our parent items which are going to slow it down even more, not to mention the admin headaches actually making it work in the first place.

Cheers.

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You can either stay with the native way Magento handles products and tweak some settings to improve performance, or customise the product relationship.

Really it comes down to what you are trying to do and where your performance and workflow bottlnecks are.

Magento is slow enough with configurable products (getConfigurableAttributes etc.) - and if you continue to go on, you'll grind to a halt.

My advice would be to stick to the Magento way for product relationships/storage and modify the interfaces used for editing/front-end display.

Make a custom product editor for the admin (then you can make it as efficient as you need), and add a custom index for your front end to keep performance high

Sorry I'm being so vague, but your question is both exceptionally broad (ie. what issues exactly are you trying to solve) and incredibly localised.

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