Selecting the right Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solution is a big decision. Getting it right results in a great return on investment. CPQ should be a real enabler for the business, a platform that allows for efficient and innovative scaling while better enabling your people to serve clients, ultimately helping improve the bottom line.
Before we begin let’s be clear what we mean by CPQ solution, it’s essential that “CPQ solution” is seen as a wider than just a system. At Vendira we work on the basis that a CPQ solution is a combination of the following 4 elements:
Portfolio for products & services
Quoting scenarios & client life-cycle management
CPQ system & enterprise architecture
Organisational operating model & process
Many people naturally gravitate to vendor systems selection as the main focus. Recognising CPQ systems are a key element, it is essential to account for the other 3 elements in selecting the right system.
For the purpose of this blog, we will assume the need for change has been established enough to start defining and selecting solutions.
Bearing in mind that the 4 solution elements need to be well accounted for let us look at 4 key stages we recommend you follow in coming to a decision.
1. Stakeholder Engagement
Ensure you discover and engage the right stakeholders to understand their needs. Engagement should be with functional leaders as well as experienced workers as they are the ones on the fighting front daily.
Understand the various scenarios and challenges faced
Encourage openness and collaboration to improve and better enable
Build a common understanding of the need and a vision for change
Identify and understand sales scenarios both simple and complex
Typical stakeholders: Product Management, Pre-Sales, Sales, Commercial, Account Management, Service Delivery Management, Sales Operations & Enablement, Service Delivery, Finance, Invoicing and business systems owners.
· Don’t avoid stakeholder engagement, it can be time-consuming and challenging, but it is critical to success. Avoidance will jeopardise the whole initiative
· Source executive level sponsorship that is actively interested and supportive
· Make it a priority for people and consider sourcing expert help and advice early on
· It is useful to have a “strawman” vision and capture of objectives/problems to solve, evolve this with the stakeholders.
2. Research the CPQ industry
While CPQ is still a relatively new term to many, it is proving to be the de facto for an efficient and effective way of B2B selling. However, there is a lot of choice in the market, from the old and established, to those being taken over and reworked, to new innovators. Here is a personal view of the industry as of Q1 2019, noting there are many more vendors and specialisms but here is a good flavour.
Mass-market generic CPQ providers, performing most things well but start to fall down / need major customisation/development or to be integrated with specialist providers for more complex needs. With exception of Oracle who is still strong in engineering & manufacturing sector.
salesforce.com/ previously Steelbrick. Built on the force.com platform servicing mass market across many industry sectors. Can be integrated with niche CPQ providers for more complex configuration needs i.e. Tacton for manufacturing
oracle.com/ previously BigMachines. Originally built for configuring agricultural machinery and steadily became mass market i.e. configuring bicycles. Still strong in the manufacturing and engineering sector.
apttus.com/ Another mass market CPQ provider. Generally, needs heavy customisation to meet certain needs. At time off writing this blog it is being re-written onto its own non-force.com platform.
quotewerks.com an older established mass market CPQ provider for SMB simple generic quoting selling at the component level.
Industry-focused CPQ providers, whose platform and roadmap are driven by their industry focus. Features and capability relevant to your industry will be more “out of the box” enabling you to focus on your content.
servicepath.co/ Focused on managed service providers, software and technology companies. A no code system that simplifies the complex and can integrate with salesforce.com CRM. Has a growing list of industry-relevant connectors and provided on AWS platform.
Specialist CPQ providers, those who have a niche specialism’s that can cross a number of industry sectors
gotransverse.com/ A high volume subscription and usage-based pricing and billing specialist.
When selecting a CPQ vendor consider the following
Understanding of your industry, products and services and how this aligns with the vendor
Down select two vendors and closely compare via custom demo or better still POC, you will learn lots.
Future proofing, the relevance of vendor road-map and strategy
Ability to easily building complex dynamically configurable guided products to enable sales
Ability to manage client life-cycle i.e. add’s removes, changes, contract renew and refresh
Intuitive GUI and ease of use. How self-sufficient can you be? Will you need a developer?
Performance and limitations of the underlying platform, be cautious of large volume quoting on force.com platform
Ability to deal with your more complex portfolio and sales scenarios in a simple manner
Referenceability from similar businesses in your industry
Speed, quality and approach to Implementation. Are they able to expertly guide you and understand your business?
Pricing and quality of aftercare services
Do you want a best of breed product through CPQ to cash solution, minimising change and using existing surrounding systems? Or an end to end single vendor product through CPQ to cash solution (a much larger complex change). Systems to consider
o Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
o Configure Price Quote (CPQ)
o Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
o Professional Services Automation (PSA)
o ITSM systems such as your Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
o Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) with Finance and invoicing
o Public Cloud usage metering and billing systems
3. Form a common vision, objectives & change approach
From your deeper understanding of drivers for change, stakeholder engagement along with your newly formed CPQ industry research refine your vision and objectives and develop your change approach. Do this via replaying back to your key stakeholders get them supportive, they will be the ones who help make this a success and ultimately are the end customer. Take it as an opportunity to improve, simplify and gain benefit but be realistic.
People engagement is key, along with leadership support
Keep it real, there will be budget, technical and resource constraints, can you really do all this at once?
o Rework and repackage all your problematic offerings
o Automate all business processes
o Fully systems integrate all systems and some bidirectionally
User executive sponsor to deal with stakeholder issues, look out for avoidance, distraction and commitment issues
Keep it simple and focused, go live phase(s) should target complete quoting scenarios, account for selling of bespoke don’t ignore it.
Consider the implications of dual running, how will this be achievable?
Review your vision and change approach with a vendor or specialist implementation partners
4. Justify the change
You’ll be glad to know that if you have done a good job of the previous stages you will be armed with all the collateral you need to help justify the change. Your vendor and or integration partner should be able to help you with any ROI modelling and business case development. They will help you identify the associated costs and resources required to deliver, maintain and build on the change while helping you maximise the many benefits of CPQ. A really key point to note is that at this stage you should have all your key stakeholders supportive and helping drive for the change.
Overall implementing a CPQ solution should not just be about doing what you do today faster and more accurately it should be a true enabler and platform for the future.
At www.vendira.co.uk we are passionate about helping service providers be more successful. We are a servicePath consulting and implementation partner and assist our clients in better servicing sales teams with quality products and services. Don’t hesitate to get in touch to explore how we can advise and help you.