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Quoting ISO Assessment and Certification: How an Industry Adapts

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Kevin Geraghty



4 min

Organizations selling ISO assessment and certification services face two hard truths; the industry continues to grow exponentially, and the industry continues to grow even more complex. How do they keep pace and stay compliant in a rapidly changing industry?

While the first truth drives significant opportunity for your business, the second drives greater risks to your profitability. 

How do you keep pace with the level of complexity that drives your risk and grow market (or even just maintain) share? 

Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with Jaime Kirk, one of our experts in quoting certification and standards, and talk about how the industry is changing and adapting and better balancing risk and revenue for growth that scales.

Thank you for joining us today, Jaimie. What changes are you seeing in the certification and standards industry today? 

It’s always been a very complex industry; there are so many different types of certifications and standards, each with their own compliance requirements. And, at some level, each organization will have their own interpretation of the rules. Compliance, and every variation, impacts the delicate balance between risk and revenue.  

As I work with customers, the biggest industry change I see is just how rapidly technology is evolving. New technologies, new policies, and new types of certification are driving tremendous growth. That’s an opportunity for today’s certification and testing businesses, but it’s also a risk; how do you keep pace and stay compliant?

What are the biggest challenges you see for certification and standards businesses?

In the past, businesses could reach for tools such as spreadsheets, then organize and communicate their business rules via email. Today, there are hundreds of spreadsheets and millions of emails. Scheme managers, pricing managers and sales teams are drowning in spreadsheets. Expecting these teams to keep all of those spreadsheets current, and protect your risk and revenue, is unrealistic. Expecting these teams to juggle all of those spreadsheets, and bid effectively is impossible. 

When compliance and business rules are inaccurate, so are your configurations and calculations. Quotes get stalled in the approval process because of compliance issues. Businesses risk breach, or worse, audit and loss of ability to certify. 

What compounds this challenge are the massive data gathering dependencies and hand-offs during the sales process. For example, the required number of audit days or type of expert required has to be error-free. If the right data isn’t gathered and shared, there’s a disconnect between what you are quoting for and what the customer needs. That puts you at risk, right in front of your customer.  

It all boils down to the level of risk your business is willing to accept. As a business leader, you have to ask yourself; are we at greater risk because of our data integrity? If we had to, can we provide a clear record of how we quoted a certain number of days for any particular audit? If you have to stop and think, you’re already at risk.

How do you help businesses navigate these challenges?

My understanding of your business process is mission critical. So I begin with questions that test my understanding and add to my perspective. Where does your quote process begin? Where do your opportunities get created? Where are your opportunities maintained? How do you report on performance and financials and forecast?

Typically, we’re looking at a series of cumbersome spreadsheets, repetitive data entry, manual workflow and errors that stall the sales process. 

That’s where the conversation gets specific. For example, what are your rules around sampling for a bolt-on maintenance service? How do you do that 3 years out for renewal? If each has a different location how do you decide, and indicate what you’re going to visit?

ISO provides a 55 page informational document on sampling. We understand how this works, and have experience on how business interpretations have been deployed, and can be deployed. We also understand how requirements like this translate to data and business rules, which ultimately drives how effective your team can be when quoting one or more schemes. We bake your business rules right into your quoting process. Any business rule you can imagine can be automated to streamline and automate your sales process.

Who do you typically collaborate with on your projects?

I start building stakeholder buy-in and consensus early. Each stakeholder comes to the project with their own goals, and they want more than a broad objective or two in exchange for their support. 

They require specific outcomes that resonate with their goals as well. For example, reducing quote turn-around time from 2 days to 2 hours, or eliminating calculation errors so there is no requirement for checking each quote. 

For example, operations wants compliance and efficiency. We help them automatically enforce compliance at less cost, and scale to meet growing demand. Management wants to maximize the revenue and profit on each deal. We help them gain insight into performance, what's underselling, so they can make more informed strategic decisions. 

End user adoption is a considerable part of our collaboration and project plan. Sometimes organizations are so keen on tackling the issues, they forget about the user experience. Sales is happy the spreadsheets are gone, but is this an improvement? We reinforce this from the beginning by dedicating periods of real user testing, not just by stakeholders.

What advice do you have for businesses considering CPQ?  

It all boils down to position; are you going to position yourself to keep pace with the speed and growth of the industry? Or are you going to fall behind and let your quoting process become a significant business liability. 

As a business leader, you have to ask yourself, what is the cost of inaction?

At some point in your evaluation process, you will need to build and present your business case, including a clear and concise overview of the potential value. 

A good Business Case will address the project from different perspectives. On one hand, it will help everyone involved in the buying process understand why the investment is sound. On the other hand, it will impress upon everyone involved why it should be started now. A well presented Business Case, where all parties are aligned, smooths the way for a faster project sign-off. 

We can help greatly with this.


adapt and grow with XaitCPQ

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Kevin Geraghty

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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