I recently read a great statement describing how CPQ has developed over recent years – “CPQ has evolved from a Sales Transition tool to a Sales Enablement tool”. What a great statement, and how true it is. CPQ has definitely proven to be disruptive in changing the way organisations are selling their products and services to customers. Apart from generating error-free quotes, accurate pricing and product configurations, CPQ is acting as the key enabler in providing a 360-degree view of the customer buying experience.
But first a word of caution! Before you anticipate your CPQ solution delivering a step change in your enterprise growth, you need to ensure that you are ready for this transformation because the devil is in the detail when it comes to successfully enabling your CPQ solution implementation. Based on my experience working as a Solution Architect on a number of large, enterprise scale CPQ transformations, I have put together a short list of considerations that organisations may want to keep in mind whilst moving towards their new era, cloud-based CPQ solution.
1. Select a simple CPQ product
To a large extent, the success of CPQ implementation depends on selecting the right product. Compare your business requirements with the tool which provides OOTB or configurability to achieve your requirements.
2. Define & Streamline Business Processes
Ensure that your business processes are well documented and defined. At the same time, imagine this transformation program as an opportunity to further streamline your processes. I’ve been part of many similar discussions where we drew process diagrams and then circled the areas which create bottlenecks or can be avoided. This proved highly beneficial in the overall implementation.
3. Upstream & Downstream Integrations
For most enterprises, product and pricing masters, along with order fulfilment and inventory management systems are outside CPQ. For a successful implementation, smooth and technically viable integrations play a vital role. We at Hansen have been part of multiple projects where product/pricing is mastered in SAP and smoothly pushed in a Salesforce system to be further used in CPQ.
4. Manage Legacy Data
Many implementations that would otherwise be successful are negatively impacted and suffer drastically at a later stage owing to an inability to import legacy data effectively. Ensure that you understand the data model and OOTB processes of the underlying CPQ tool and draw up a strategy for your legacy data migration well in advance.
5. Avoid unnecessary Customisation
In most cases, customisation brings complexity, impacts performance and makes the solution moving forward incompatible with product releases. Unless absolutely necessary, customisation should be avoided or at the very least minimised.
In order to improve the performance of your sales team, the underlying technology support should also be high in terms of performance. In order to improve adoption, it’s essential that your solution is designed keeping performance in mind.
7. UI and UX
One of the most desirable aspects of any sales tool is to have a simple, intuitive and easy-to-follow user interface requiring minimal clicks, clear, crisp messages and helpful tools for an improved User Experience.
8. Users Input & Involvement
As I mentioned at the start of the article, CPQ is evolving as a sales enablement tool. Consequently, in the transformation journey to cloud-based new era solutions, it is critical that key people from all relevant departments are involved right from the inception phase of the project and available to provide their ongoing support throughout the full project lifecycle.
9. Project Planning
Like any other software project, planning plays a huge role in the successful deployment of CPQ services. In fact, for enterprise level implementations, my recommendation would always be to follow an MVP model at the start, followed by Agile SCRUM for the rest of the deliverables. Following a more orthodox Waterfall model can bring serious challenges for complex CPQ projects.
10. Training & Guidance
Often, when planning CPQ implementation projects, organisations underestimate the need for proper change management, training and educational programs. The sequence of the training should be – general product training at the start of the program to educate those who will be part of the project team, custom training before UAT, Train the Trainer sessions to embed capability within the business (particularly for larger organisations) and finally end-user level training post go-live.