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Hiring a CPQ Consultant: What should I know? (Part III)

Welcome back for the final edition of our three-part series on preparing to hire a Salesforce Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) implementation consultant. Today we’re covering the process of evaluating and hiring potential consulting partners. This post will also offer suggestions for setting realistic expectations of your first CPQ release for maximum success.

If you missed the beginning of the series, get caught up with Part I and Part II.

Get organized

Now that you know what your goal is with CPQ, you have identified your subject matter experts (SMEs), you’ve hand-picked a few end-users who will play a role in design and build, and you’ve documented a handful of requirements and use cases, it’s time to put everything together. Get organized and hire a consulting partner!

Partner selection

Depending on the procurement department standards at your company, you might need to perform a formal request for proposal (RFP) process with established milestones and timelines. As the project sponsor, you might be doing the entire evaluation yourself. Regardless of how many people will or will not be helping, you have a couple options available to evaluate consulting partners.

First and foremost, you want to ensure that one or more of the consulting resources working on your project be a Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialist. This certification, although still fairly rare among Salesforce consultants, is the benchmark for a proven understanding of Salesforce CPQ implementation concepts and system constructs. Statêra has several Salesforce Certified CPQ Specialists to help your project move swiftly and efficiently.

I recommend evaluating a handful of different consulting firms to determine the best choice for your goals and company. Potential partners should be able to prepare one or more of the following options, as a means for being compared with competing firms.

Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM)

A high-level estimate of a project’s timeline, resourcing expectations and project implementation cost. The specific criteria is up to you, but here are some questions to consider:

  • How much existing CPQ data can be reused?
  • How much of a given deliverable can be completed by internal IT resources, versus consulting partner resources?
  • For a use case or a set of use cases, how much work will require custom code versus out-of-box configuration?

Statement of Work (SOW)

A more meticulous estimate that includes all of the features of a ROM, while providing a more detailed project timeline, use of resources and a narrow range for estimated project cost. An SOW provides greater depth of information around the consultants’ understanding of your goals within scoping statements, approach, deliverables, key activities and assumptions.

Standalone Blueprint

The most detailed type of estimate. In order to complete, consulting resources are allocated to the prospective client a limited, paid engagement. The standalone blueprint phase is assigned a due date, typically 4-8 weeks total, when discovery work is conducted. A final presentation is presented to the prospective client to decide how to proceed. The benefits to this investment include…

  • Become Familiar with the consulting partner and their style.
  • Complete or partially-complete requirements and design documentation.
  • Get extremely detailed use cases and scoping statements.
  • Set expectations with highly-specific project timelines and resourcing allocations with cost and phasing options.
  • Secure your judgment with real life experience.
  • Seamlessly move into construction/testing/deployment.

 

Project kickoff

Once you have selected a consulting organization to partner with, there are a few items they need immediately. Be prepared with each of the following on or before day one:

Internal Project Manager

Even though your consulting partner will provide a partner-side project manager, it’s important for your company to have a project manager assigned to the CPQ implementation as well. This person should be able to create and maintain a project plan with milestones, due dates and dependencies based on all the CPQ-assigned resources at your company. The internal project manager should also serve as a liaison for the partner-side project manager to communicate potential changes surrounding stakeholders, timing, allocation, issues and risks.

Documentation Standards

When onboarding your Salesforce CPQ Specialist consulting partner, include your company standards for IT system/project documentation. Is there a certain form or format that is to be used for each phase? Companies have unique preferences when it comes to documentation and deliverables, so know yours ahead of time, and provide them to external partners up front.

Shared DriveSpace

Many digital artifacts will be created throughout the project implementation process. Where should your consultant store these, and how will you provide access to systems and drives? Although the consultant isn’t being hired full-time, consider the technology integration and training necessary to ensure reliable sharing and collaboration.

Systems Access

For long-term implementations, provide your consulting partners with email addresses and systems access. Not only will it make scheduling quick and efficient, but the project team will feel more unified. Consider additional access necessary to save time and resources while working together.

There is nothing worse, as a consultant, than kicking off a project, getting the stakeholders excited, learning about use cases to demo in the next meeting…then having to wait a week before gaining access to Salesforce to build the demo, or emailing back and forth to schedule the meeting.

 

Crawl, walk, run

Since this article is focused on what to do before hiring a consultant, we have reached the end of our journey…or perhaps the beginning of our next one. Just remember that from the moment your organization decides it needs to implement Salesforce CPQ, to the day you go live, you should not be looking at CPQ as a one-time deal when it comes to implementation.

Not only does technology evolve, but so do business processes, goals, expectations, KPIs and the list goes on. Do not try to fit every single one of your requirements and use cases into the first implementation. Prioritize them accordingly, allowing ones that fall off the first implementation to evolve for phase 2, phase 3 and beyond.

 

 

About Eric Thiem:

Eric Thiem is a Senior Consultant and Pre-Sales Engineer in Statêra’s Quote-to-Cash practice. He has six Salesforce certifications (CPQ Specialist, Admin, Advanced Admin, Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Communities), two Apttus certifications (CPQ and CLM) and has been working in the cloud consulting space since 2012. In his free time, Eric enjoys reading, downhill skiing, camping, and officiating youth ice hockey games. He also enjoys bird watching with his moderately-obese cat, Cartman.