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, accelerates the internal deal review process, and provides 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.”

Justin Wheatley, Director of Lead-to-Ledger at PhiX.

Rather than stalling your project due to a lack of understanding and time constraints to gather these CPQ 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 Director of Lead-to-Ledger, Justin, shares some best practices 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, Justin 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 the 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 cause a high-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 an increase in customisation, causing deviation from standard processes, which increases complexity, implementation costs and maintenance costs downstream
  • User adoption. Reluctance to use the new tool will compromise the project’s success in the long term and not meet your projected ROI”

Furthermore, 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 takeaway 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.  Ensure you reach an explicit agreement on evaluating the possible CPQ solutions. Last but not least, select the most suitable implementation partner to work with.

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

Our Advisory Services support the exploratory stage of introducing a new solution. Subsequently, we work with your team for the CPQ requirements to determine a successful CPQ project delivery.