The old “pricing sheet” is hard to eliminate. We all know spreadsheets are error-prone, difficult to keep confidential and can only be managed accurately by one or two people. These spreadsheets refuse to die – just like a Zombie – they keep coming back from the dead; or like a boomerang that comes back and hits you right in the head. Today, many organizations continue to use spreadsheets to do their Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ)/Quote to Cash. However, these spreadsheets bring about significant risks to organizations; including financial, data loss, IP loss, legal and reputational risks.
Organizations realize they need to graduate from spreadsheets and move onto more advanced systems that provide appropriate controls, can easily adapt to change, and are properly supported. The solutions available are better designed to support the complexities and continual changes that shape today’s CPQ/quote to cash processes. Many organizations have taken the leap to migrate from spreadsheets and implement CPQ/Quote to cash systems. However, change is hard, and the implementations may not have been successful as initially envisioned.
Even with the right motivation and alignment, successful CPQ/ Quote to Cash systems implementation requires continuous care, feeding and support. Unfortunately, in many cases, the solution selected first appeared to be the right one, had all the right features and the initial phases were successfully implemented, but they still failed. Once this happens, in many instances the organization reverts back to their old habits, “the Zombie spreadsheet” because it’s easy, it’s understood and it partially solves your challenges for the time.
Why do organizations keep coming back and keep trying to get CPQ right? Because there are very few corporate initiatives that can have such a powerful impact on the bottom and topline, as when CPQ and quote to cash are done well.
It is worth battling the zombie spreadsheet. In order to understand the resurgence of the spreadsheet one needs to understand the reasons for CPQ systems failures. Major causes of failure include:
- Tool selection
- Poor change management
- Lack of executive support
- System complexity
- Custom coding requirements
- Underestimating ongoing technical resources etc…
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the consequences of choosing the wrong CPQ for the job.
In most cases, wrongly chosen CPQ/Quote-to-Cash systems require a high level of customization resulting in more labour resources primarily from the IT department. This may not necessarily be noticed at the beginning of an implementation but surface soon after. The best scenario is a system that can be controlled and modified by the business unit’s side. For example, a CPQ system that required a significant amount of custom coding now requires a configuration change. This would require internal IT resources that may be limited and not be able to turn around the request in a timely basis. If this situation continues, and the system cannot be updated quickly, therefore the business unit may revert back to their spreadsheets
The damage has been done. What now? How do you get into therapy for broken CPQ and boomerang spreadsheets? How do you avoid this process from the start? This is where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your choice is to either have a technical team that is 100% devoted to your technical CPQ choice or use a different set of selection parameters.
Solving this issue is indeed a huge challenge – but all is not lost. We have seen this pattern many times. Our customers came to servicePath when they were on their second, even third CPQ cycle!
Like Einstein once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So what is the right approach? How can you arm yourself to guarantee future success? CPQ/Quote-to Cash has caught ample attention in recent times as it provides such a powerful impact on the bottom and topline when it is done well.
The following key considerations are essential in the successful selection and implementation of a CPQ process:
- Technology, customers, pricing, vendors and marketplace, are constantly changing. Your CPQ/Quote-to-Cash system must be evergreen, a constantly evolving program to support this recurring evolution of the business. The only constant, after all, is change. You need a system that can embrace change, act as the one source of truth and cater to all changes in real-time. It should be able to easily ingest different data points, create new solutions, and incorporate new product information.
- The need to empower the business organization to modify, build and configure the solution without relying on IT resources. This will enable finance/business unit teams to quickly pre-approve deals to accelerate time to respond to customers – If you get a deal to your customer faster, your chance of winning is higher; the result? Continued success, of course.
- The system should have an open approach and a coherent integration strategy. One that embraces all types of pricing and products, from “one-time pricing” to “as a service”. Needless to say, the ideal Quote to Cash system will have an open API approach to address changes that take place all the time, for example – hyperscalers, dynamic pricing lists, new solution configurations, and new offerings – changes that are very difficult to build back into a spreadsheet.
- The initiative needs to be aligned from the executive to sales teams to architects to the front line. Ideally, you would need to institutionalize regular meetings with the key stakeholders in order to address challenges, update needs and ensure ongoing communication.
- Market-sensing – you and your vendors need to stay on top of the developments in your organizations to stay aware of all the new challenges and opportunities that are evolving and emerging in the marketplace.
servicePath’s customer success has been amplified by our market understanding and solution features that enable the business side of organizations to be responsive to their customer needs and changing market dynamics. As a company, we believe our continued success in CPQ implementation is because:
- We prioritize our customers’ needs and spend time to understand their business. We stay with our customers throughout the implementation and into the life cycle of their business.
- Our road map is 100% defined by our customers. Even though we focus our system to deal with complexity, we believe the art of pure genius is making the complex appear simple. Our click and configure approach enables the business side of the organization to manage, change and control the system without having to rely on IT teams who are already taxed with numerous projects.
- servicePath was built for organizations with complexities and high rates of change. We realize that it’s absolutely imperative to be fast and agile at analyzing a deal and while maintaining a strong alignment with the company.
- servicePath is about skills transfer, knowledge transfer and helping our customers build sustainable, “evergreen” Q2C solutions.
You can really get an idea once you experience the change for yourself – switch from ancient spreadsheets to servicePath CPQ+ today to experience worry-free deal-making.