When it comes to B2B digital commerce and Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) implementations, perfection is often the enemy of progress. If you’re like most businesses, you’re interested in realizing value in your technology investment as quickly as possible. To be clear, perfection is the desire for the new CPQ solution to have absolutely zero “perceived regressions” as compared with the old solution, whether that was Excel, email, or even another CPQ system. When we work to address every edge-case and user-interface request from the old tool, we often simply recreate the old solution. Just remember: There’s a reason a new solution was pursued and purchased.
Rather than using the old solution’s criteria for implementing the new solution, here are four tenets to remember and consider while implementing a new CPQ solution:
Choose the Right CPQ Vendor
Be sure to select a CPQ vendor that has experience in the market and in your specific industry. Industry-based knowledge is important to understand the solutions you need to produce value for your business. If the vendor isn’t prescriptive as part of the implementation, demand it. For example, if you’re a distributor and rebates are part of your business model, the vendor should prescribe specific bill-back and rebate solutions within the CPQ design.
Be Flexible and Responsive to the Input and Experience Your Vendor Brings to the Project
The new solution will be noticeably different from the old one. Use this change as an opportunity to challenge the perceived needs—your old ones — when they conflict with the advice and expertise of your vendor. For example, you may find yourself in an implementation where the outgoing tool required users to find and select each individual package component. At first, users were concerned because the CPQ workflow would be very different. After communicating with stakeholders in the user community that the new workflow would be faster, easier and would automatically prevent errors, their concern for that change will dissipate and they will become avid users of the new system.
Start with One Portion of Your Business
Choose one key area of your business to roll out the solution. For example, when we helped customers switch from a manual quoting tool to PROS Smart CPQ, we discovered that the business required quoting for five product lines instead of the three that were originally planned. Additionally, we learned that the business had three distinct user groups,- two more than planned,- and those groups each handled distinct types of quotes that required different workflow needs. After further discussion, it became clear that 70% of quotes contained products from only three major product lines, so the team pivoted the project to start with those use cases. By not trying to solve every use case at the outset, but instead targeting the biggest chunk of similar use cases, we were able to have a successful implementation. By targeting specific areas of business in just 90 days, PROS was able to configure the solution to solve for the targeted product lines and user group, and at the same time lay a foundation for the addition of more product lines and user groups in the future.
Create CPQ Fans Early- by Deploying with Advocates First
As you prepare for deployment to all users, the early adopters will help you evangelize to the rest of the user base, which can help ease change management issues. Building your team of evangelizers is key to success. If users don’t adopt the new solution, you’re dead in the water. After you go live with the first group, focus on the incremental work needed to roll it out to the next group. After the initial rollout, it will be possible to add additional configuration to account for more complex quoting situations, and then you can roll out to the balance of the users. This segmented approach allows for different business units to spread out the time it takes to implement change and allows for a more significant return on investment.
To be successful you must chart a path to the initial value as quickly as possible, while still getting all the foundational elements right. This solid foundation is your path to success. It will enable you to act upon new requirements or business needs in the future without redesigning or changing significant elements of the solution.
Configure, Price, Quote solutions are incredibly valuable in helping your sales team sell more successfully in an omnichannel world. If you have questions or are looking for insights, let us know. The increasing velocity of digital transformation means that many companies will be left behind, don’t let it happen to you.