CPQ Project

CPQ Project Planning: The Critical Path to Success

Nick, a Finance leader at a hi-tech firm, was regularly noticing wrong products on customer quotes. These products were being mis-sold and were including excessive discounting practices that were causing the company to lose money. They needed a way to guide their sales team to configure, price and quote more accurately to help increase profitability and customer satisfaction.

To optimise the guided selling capabilities of the sales team, the Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution would need to guide them through the product or solution bundles based on the information they were getting from the customer in real-time. Giving the customer a better experience and making it easier for them to do business with the company.

A solution would need to fit seamlessly between the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programme and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Thus bringing the data and processes together to speed up the quoting and proposal stage, enabling data to be visible across the business and quotes to be delivered in minutes rather than weeks.

Sales automation impacts the whole business

Configure, price, quote (CPQ) software automates the sales-to-close process. It helps improve the accuracy of quotes, assure compliance with discounting and margin policies, accelerate the internal deal review process, and provide customers with detailed quotes far quicker than manual processes allow. CPQ solutions connect finance, product, and sales departments, linking product information and pricing policies with sales processes to generate and manage proposals.

CPQ tools can increase revenue through guided selling suggestions for complementary services or products. Some tools manage the contract process as well.

There can be lots of factors and requests from different business departments to procure the right solution. Considerations have to include whether a vendor has a broad geographical reach to support multicurrency/language considerations and manage the complexity around multiple lines of business to support growth.

“Building out the business requirements can be an overwhelming process, but it is critical to the success of the CPQ project.”
Tamara Roda, Practice Director at PhiX.

Rather than stalling your project due to lack of understanding and time constraints to gather these requirements, calling in external advice and support can keep the project moving and free up the team to continue with their day jobs.

PhiX understands the importance of expert advisory services at this stage to avoid unsuccessful project outcomes. Asking the right questions to get the desired result is vital. All our technical engineers have spent their careers fixing and re-engineering poorly implemented products and are on a mission to help companies get it right the first time, saving time and money and enabling future company growth. 

If you are planning on preparing a CPQ project yourself internally, our Practice Director Tamara Roda shares some best practice for consideration:  

Mapping a CPQ project for successful completion

  1. Assess, document and prioritise your business processes in detail

    Don’t assume that you are well informed!
    a) Identify manual steps, stakeholders and owners. b) Data needs and dependencies, access to the data and quality.

  2. Document the product catalogue

    Capture all product requirements and rules in detail. Your CPQ partner should be able to help and provide templates to provide structure and drive the level of detail required.

  3. Identify ways to cut-out unnecessary steps

    Review your ‘as-is state’ critically and remove any unnecessary processes or steps so you can map your ideal ‘future state’ which will deliver real value.

  4. Prepare your organisation for change

    Automating the sales process impacts a diverse user group within the organisation. It will most likely change or introduce new roles and responsibilities.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

When asked what makes the difference between a well-prepared project and one that is doomed for failure, Tamara continues to share; 

“Gaps in ‘identify manual steps, stakeholders and owners’ will manifest during the project and delay design and implementation. Detail will be missing, and it will be too late for decision-makers to make decisions on process changes. The solution could be compromised at this point, impacting scalability and maintainability.

Gaps in ‘data needs and dependencies’ will manifest in late stages of the project, potentially impacting key project milestones.

Gaps in ‘document the product catalogue’ will manifest during User Acceptance Testing. When users start testing, and critical rules or dependencies are missing. It could bring significant changes to the solution design and hence cause high re-implementation effort. This will also mean delays on project milestones/go live and increased effort/costs.

If you fail to ‘prepare your organisation for change’ it will manifest in different ways:

  • Lack of readiness will compromise the solution approach meaning increase in customisation, causing deviation from standard processes which increase complexity, implementation costs and maintenance costs downstream
  • User adoption. Reluctance to use the new tool will compromise the project success in the long term and not meet your projected ROI"

Once you have a clear definition of the business objectives, i.e. what are the issues you want to fix, and what does success looks like? You can assign quantifiable goals to help you identify how success will be measured. 

What would your final take away be for someone preparing for a CPQ implementation project? 

The project must be sponsored by the business and not just IT. CPQ tools are business tools.

A CPQ project will usually impact or require involvement from:

  • Marketing: branding on documents and templates
  • Product teams: definition of product catalogue, rules, dependencies and pricing strategy.
  • Sales: sales processes, forecasting, Opportunity management, etc
  • Legal: contracts and contract lifecycle management
  • IT: introduction of new IT systems and support with existing legacy systems
  • Finance: finance approvals, revenue rules, pricing rules

Ensure all teams impacted by the new CPQ Solution actively engage in the planning process, and you reach an explicit agreement on how to evaluate the possible CPQ solutions and select the most suitable implementation partner to work with. 

PhiX Technologies are supporting companies to discover, assess and implement solutions to optimise their business workflows.

Our Advisory Services supports the exploratory stage of introducing a new solution; we work with your team across your business and tech stack for a successful CPQ project.

About the contributor:

Tamara Roda
Tamara is our Practice Director. She has over 16 years of experience in the full Software Development Lifecycle, specialising in Quote to Cash transformation and user-centric adoption.


faster contract cycle

How to speed up your contract cycle

How to speed up your contract cycle

The pressure is on the legal department as their workloads rise faster than their budgets. With less time on their side and an increasing strain on cross-department relationships due to lengthy review processes, there isn’t the time or money to work with slow contract cycles. 

Manually drafting a high-volume of low-value contracts is an operational nightmare! Legal in-house teams and functional teams that rely on legal are crying out for a solution that will minimise admin tasks and speed up the contract process. Freeing up legal functions to be more strategic and focus on high-value tasks, reducing the reliance from the operational teams on expensive legal resources for contract creation. 

Measuring financial impact

Poor contracting processes don’t just eat up lots of time; they cause direct loss of revenue too. 

Research from IACCM calculated that companies with poor contracting processes lose, on average, 9.2% of their annual revenue due to contract value leakage related to non-standard contract terms that increase the risk and lead to revenue losses.

What’s 9% of your business annual revenue and can you afford to lose it?

Managing data for customer success

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that cloud-based access to contract data and the ability to analyse large volumes of data nearly instantly is immensely valuable, especially in a crisis. But reams of data doesn’t equal value. If not managed properly, it can add to the complexity and lack of efficiency. Thousands of templates and clauses to select from makes generating a proposal very specialised, especially when considering compliance obligations. 

The good news is that contract management solutions are evolving from operational record-keeping systems used for legal auditing purposes into enterprise-level core systems for addressing business risks, costs and revenue maximisation. 

The management of contract clauses and templates set with an intelligent rules engine enables businesses to respond quickly to market changes and adhere to regulations around the globe, both buy-side and sell-side. This saves time, reduces review cycles and minimises risk on non standard terms. By digitising contracts, you gain access to all customer contracts and enable the use of advanced analytics and AI.

“Where's the contract stored?”

A typical Fortune 1000 company has between 20,000 – 40,000 contracts according to Goldman Sachs. Ensuring they have access to them is a business necessity, but storing this data isn’t the only issue. Spreadsheets, emails and even paper are still being used in this high-value process. Which makes you question, if contracts are the lifeblood of all businesses, why is it 85% of companies are still using manual processes to manage them?   

Is your organisation one of them? 

Being able to store and search for all your contracts in a secure repository could be enough for some businesses and is certainly a good place to start if you’re looking to introduce a digital document transformation. “Where do we store them? Or ‘has this contract expired?’ becomes a thing of the past. Having a starting point could make way for further enhancements based on a strategic contract lifecycle roadmap. 

With smart automation features available in content repositories, your contract management system can create, negotiate and report on inefficiencies as well as extract the intelligence to power your business forward. Being able to report on average turn-around time or deviations from standard contract clauses enables you to provide valuable insights back into the business to help manage cash flow and expected timelines.

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Setting the sales team up for success

As a Sales leader, you will have experienced the impact and frustration of a slow contract cycle and the stress that comes with contract negotiations when key contract details aren’t available in Salesforce and other CRM systems.

But what components of a contract management solution will give you the greatest return on your investment? The following features are essential:

  • A contract repository. A virtual filing cabinet, where every contract is stored digitally. Also enabling all qualified users with access to contract content and terms.
  • Automated tracking of versions. As documents are passed through multiple hands and undergo numerous revisions, all redlines are tracked automatically and stored in your CRM.
  • A clause library. Containing pre-approved legal language and templates for contract creation and negotiations, so that sales teams can move through the entire sales contract cycle themselves.
  • A contract status dashboard. That permits users to quickly locate a contract and gain visibility into contract location and status.

Including these features into your contract software solution empowers your sales team to create, negotiate, and execute contracts, accelerating contract cycles and creating satisfied customers and sales reps. It also enables you the sales leader to maintain control and have visibility over the overall contract process. Mitigating risk and enforcing compliance through the use of templates and content that is pre-approved by your legal team. 

The result – faster contract velocity, improved cash flow and streamlined partner and supplier onboarding – enabling your organisation to adapt and scale. 

CPQ + CLM - the Dynamic Duo

If you already have Configure Price Quote (CPQ) software installed and are reading this thinking, what are the benefits of adding a contract lifecycle management solution (CLM)? The short answer is by integrating CPQ with CLM you will maximise your contract workflow, create efficiencies and unlock increased sales productivity. 

Having a unified quoting and contract process saves the sales rep from duplicating work at the different stages as data is added once and pulled through the process. When you hold everything digitally, not only can you access it anywhere at any time, but the potential for human error reduces. 

What happens when you add Billing to your process optimisation? Supporting the CFO to create operational efficiency

If increasing customer satisfaction scores are a key performance indicator for your organisation or board, integrating CPQ and CLM systems improves the quotation and contract management processes. Syncing this data in one system avoids quotes going out wrong and having to be changed to reflect the latest contract terms. 

And that’s not all – having a continually updated library of templates and clauses is a commercial weapon in contract negotiation. Enterprise data and advanced analytics help you optimise decision-making by creating strategies based on insights from previous negotiation cycles.

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One centralised system for Sales, Legal and the Customer

If your contracts are generated faster, you’re going to be able to collect on them quicker. If they’re accurate, you’re going to have far fewer disputes. Meaning happy customers and an even happier C-Suite. Companies that are connecting the sales cycle to their contract process are not only closing more business faster but at a higher proposal amount. The benefits in summary are:

  • Shorter contract lifecycle times
  • Reduced revenue leakage
  • More deals closed
  • Increased visibility, compliance, security and control

  • Reduced risk
  • Reduced admin costs
  • More time on high-value tasks
  • Greater contract flexibility

When considering introducing a contract process optimisation project consider the impact on the businesses:

  • Top-line revenue
  • Overall costs to produce and execute a contract from a resource perspective
  • The level of business risk with non-compliance

Why not see if you can answer these five questions to begin to build your business case for change:

  1. What is the value of your business contracts?
  2. How many people are involved in generating a contract and agreeing it before sending it to the customer?
  3. Who is involved in this process?
  4. How long does it typically take your business to get new contracts drawn up, agreed and signed?
  5. What are the potential risks in terms of fines or supply chain failure that you need to monitor?

If you’d like help understanding your current process metrics and how they can be dramatically improved, get in touch with a member of the team.

PhiX has decades of experience in the full Software Development Lifecycle, specialising in Quote to Cash transformation and user-centric adoption. Designing, developing and implementing end-to-end processes for organisations to accelerate their Quote to Cash process is what we do. Our CPQ and CLM experts work across multiple industries to offer best-of-breed technology solutions with many quick-start options to get you up and running fast.

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What is CPQ?

CPQ stands for Configure, Price and Quote

It’s an extension of your CRM that helps you sell faster by automating the sales process through to quoting.

Configure

Guiding sales reps to select the right product combinations based on client needs.

Price

Assigning the price of the products automatically, controlling discounts and rules, therefore ensuring the most optimised pricing is applied.

Quote

Automatically creating a branded quote with all the information and emailing it to the customer. 

Why consider CPQ?

If you’re using legacy systems that involve spreadsheets, waiting on pricing approvals or loss of revenue due to missed opportunities, then you can no longer afford to be complacent. 

Companies looking to adopt a subscription model will run into multiple problems with traditional quote configurators. Businesses must put the right tools in place to be able to work effectively with this new model. 

Managing configuration for customer success

Over the past few years, personalisation and curation have risen as significant consumer trends. With tiered pricing structures and tailored recommendations, subscription models can let consumers choose the level of service or products that meet their needs. 

In an offline environment, reps in a hurry to complete a deal can easily forget about product bundles or add-ons like premier support which would improve the profitability of the deal and increase customer satisfaction. With product configuration rules, these rules are suggested at the time of quoting to ensure they don’t get missed. 

For example, a car company pursuing subscription models would offer all-inclusive subscriptions, such as bundling roadside assistance, insurance and maintenance, all-in-one monthly payment, subsequently avoiding the need for the consumer to manage all the components through different vendors.

“Today’s customers demand more flexibility in how they buy and companies across all industries are responding by introducing new revenue models,” says Kylie Fuentes, Head of Product, Salesforce CPQ & Billing.   

Configuration rules can be set for individual products, such as setting minimum or maximum quantities, exclusion or dependency rules and pricing rules, such as volume discounts or tiered pricing. Fixing these in advance and centrally will avoid lengthy approval processes and ensure every quote created is 100% error-free. 

Quoting for a frictionless experience

Do you have different start dates or shipping locations? Salesforce CPQ has Advanced Order Management functionality to streamline and automate the order fulfilment process. In cloud software, you may have to quote license quantities with different start dates, which, as a result, can cause issues with Sales Ops who need to manage provisioning and Finance for revenue recognition. 

“Quoting for subscription products means that your tool has to support the concept of time and be able to help add on and coterminous quotes to align with existing contracts,” says Annie Wright, PML for Salesforce CPQ & Billing “And unlike traditional software models, those contracts also need to go through renewals—a critical step in the customer lifecycle.”

Consequently, Salesforce CPQ is purpose-built to handle recurring relationships.

Sales reps can easily select products of multiple revenue types in a single quote. They can build-out different deal structures and apply a discount to a specific line in the quote. Even changing the quantities over different periods to accommodate the needs of the customer is possible. If the customer has a particular budget, CPQ can calculate the discounts to reach that amount and can run this across several departments to move quickly. 

“Spending unnecessary time going back and forth on quotes can cause frustration with the buyer, and impact buyer confidence.”  

This process improves the customer buying experience and accelerates the overall sales cycle. Therefore, enabling your sales reps to focus their time and energy on selling. Not trying to figure out correct product combinations!

All in all, if you’re looking to deliver the best experience for your customers, speed up your sales process, reduce manual errors and increase revenue, then CPQ can help. Talk to one of our CPQ specialists to get started. 

The five benefits of CPQ

Before CPQ

  • Inaccurate pricing
  • Manual approval of discounts
  • Time wasted on inefficient processes
  • Inaccurate quotes
  • Lost revenue and inability to accurately forecast

After CPQ 

  • Accurate pricing
  • Automated approval of discounts
  • Streamlined process from sales and marketing
  • Accurate quotes
  • Increase in revenue and accurate forecasting