Implementing a CPQ tool is a big undertaking that should never be taken lightly. No matter how big or small the scope of the project, there will be challenges and decisions to be made. Entire books have been written about each of the following topics but what we want to try to do here is break this down into manageable nuggets of information. Each piece with contain some relevant information based on Statera’s years of experience in Lead to Cash (LTC) and CPQ domain expertise. These are large topics, so this blog won’t get into the dirty details. Rather, it will give an overview of why each is critical to your CPQ success. So, are you ready for CPQ?
Product Master Rationalization
Lets kick things off. What constitutes a Product in your company’s world? This is not always as simple as it may seem and could vary greatly depending on who you ask. What the sales group presents to a customer vs. what a product manager deems to be sellable vs. what the ERP system stores in its product master tables. Who is right? Who gets to decide?
A good place to start is with what the sales reps present to customers in terms of a quote or proposal. Those line items listed out on a nicely branded PDF are often the best place to begin when you have these product definition questions.
Master Data Management (MDM)
MDM is the strategy and method by which an organization manages its critical data. It is easy to see why CPQ data is extremely important to this conversation since it involves customers, products and pricing. The overall enterprise MDM strategy can be a driver for transformational changes within a Salesforce.com environment.
Adopting a systematic approach to MDM will make it a lot easier to grow your data and in turn allow for better analytics which is especially valuable when looking at quoting, pricing and other CPQ metrics.
CPQ – “The Main Course”
In this context we are talking about this as the act of building out and implementing your CPQ solution. Needless to say picking the right partner to do this is absolutely key. The partner who has been there before will be able to navigate you through all the different obstacles and put you in the best position to succeed is paramount.
This is one place that I have seen time and again where CPQ customers get tripped up. Imagine CPQ is a box. Ordering, fulfilling, entitling or whatever else happens in your business after a sale is won happens outside of this box.
Many customers want this to all flow together into a singular, cohesive process. This can absolutely be done but the context and definitions used for CPQ can sometimes change when you start dealing with different groups within a business. A couple of examples/questions to think about:
- Maybe a product was sold as 1 unit but when it needs to be fulfilled it needs to be broken into a bill of materials (BOM). That sounds OK but what happens when a customer then wants to reorder an individual SKU within the BOM? If you are planning to break apart a product post sale you need to start to think about the implications to the CPQ side of the fence
- Would you like to send your completed quotes to an ERP system for invoicing/financials? How does that ERP system need the line items formatted? Is there an apples to apples relationship between Account, Billing & Shipping Addresses and Products between your CRM and ERP system that will allow for the flow of clean data between the 2?
Change Management (CM)
As with the implementation of any transformational tool within the organization, Change Management is key. Outside of the obvious benefits of a solid CM plan the key aspect to focus on is setting the correct expectations for the sales org so this it is fully understood what the goal of CPQ is.
You are most likely replacing a legacy system, spreadsheets and/or manual processes so level setting with the sales team about what to expect will pay dividends down the road.
Support Into The Future
A seasoned Salesforce.com administrator is just the beginning when looking at support options for CPQ. CPQ configurations can be complex so having someone on hand who can troubleshoot, implement fixes and provide enhancements is often a challenge customers have a hard time solving for.
There are a lot of CPQ resources out there for admins to build their skills with but becoming familiar with their organizations build is really only accomplished through hands-on work within the environment and understanding not only ‘how’ but ‘why’ things were built the way they were.
Let’s Wrap This Up…
This was a quick look into what a CPQ implementation can involve with all the different moving parts that can get caught up in the overall process. Bottom line is that if you are going down the CPQ path you have a business need that is complex enough to support it. And because of this complexity it will often bubble things up to the surface that you never suspected or thought you would have to address in a project of this nature.
Stay tuned for more info from Statera as we dive into each of these topics and more!!
Dan Fitzpatrick is the CPQ Practice Director and has been at Statera since 2010. He has 14 years of experience on the Salesforce.com platform and 15+ years of consulting experience.