It is now recognized by a growing spectrum of businesses that implementing integrated CPQ applications can deliver significant benefits and rapid returns on investment – particularly for organizations that offer combinations of interdependent products and services or have complex pricing options.
However, there are a number of factors reported by businesses that have been through such implementations, which set apart those that have been truly successful. They can largely be described as factors of Business Readiness.
It may seem obvious, but... getting commitment at the highest level is essential if a new Quote to Contract process is to be successfully embedded across the organization. The appointment of a senior champion, preferably at board-level, who can drive the project at every level, is something that has proven to enhance project success.
This champion should have an extensive understanding of the products, services and processes, provide high levels of support and have the authority to ensure that all relevant functional areas provide the required level of information and feedback.
It is highly beneficial if organizations going through such change have a clear and full understanding of the business and personal benefits that can be derived from CPQ systems that effectively streamline the Quote to Contract process.
Communicating and getting the involvement in delivering these benefits requires wider involvement from the outset. One powerful method of delivering this understanding is to involve relevant individuals in a detailed analysis of the current business process that will be affected and enhanced by the deployment.
Product / Service Readiness
The success of a CPQ implementation depends on the readiness and ability of the product or service range to be automated in this way.
There needs to be a hierarchy and structure that lends itself to automation, with rules that can be applied for each product or service. The structure of internal reports can be helpful; however, this will have an inward focus and it is often beneficial to try to view this from the buyer’s perspective.
Will this new system be for internal use only, or might it also be extended to channel partners, distributors, resellers, sales agents or even end-users themselves?
Organizations must have a clear understanding of what they are trying to achieve by providing these external channels with access to a CPQ system. They must also understand the needs of these external channels and how, why and where they need to access CPQ tools.
In addition to the design and development of new processes and procedures, there are technical issues that need to be addressed to successfully integrate CPQ applications with the existing CRM, ERP or eCommerce systems.
However, this can often present challenges, as staff focused on day to day activities will rarely have surplus capacity to take on board the change management initiatives or the experience to develop an effective and workable CPQ roadmap.
A CPQ implementation is most effective when introduced incrementally. Tackling business issues in a sensible order is vital to ensure quick wins, gain trust, encourage greater user adoption and ultimately provide a fast return on investment.
A member of staff must be charged with the continuous enhancement and the ongoing management of the system to ensure that the investment is maximized.
Addressing the Quote to Contract complexity challenges can deliver rapid results with benefits flowing straight through to the bottom line, helping understand and correctly bridge gaps that exist between current processes. This should be subject to regular and ongoing review to ensure that the new processes continue to deliver the required results.
Kevin's passion is helping companies become easier to buy from. He is a pioneer and thought leader in CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote). Quick to spot how technology (in particular CRM and product configuration software) enhances sales team performance, he was instrumental in the development of cloud based CPQ applications. He co-founded BlueprintCPQ in 1999, and built this to become one of the most powerful and flexible CPQ platforms. BlueprintCPQ was acquired by Xait in December 2020 where Kevin is Head of CPQ practice and Managing Director of Xait Ltd where he continues to apply his innovative thinking and experience to drive sales efficiency.
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