If you’ve not already read part one of this article, we considered a good definition of ‘enterprise software’, and shared with you one of the most common questions that we get asked – ‘what benefits does my company get if we go for the higher end and more complex solutions?’ We believe that the benefits can be grouped into three main areas – Performance (which we looked at in part one), and Adaptability and Maintenance, which we will now go onto to explore.
While performance is the dominant factor, you’ll also need to consider how you can mould a solution to your organisation’s needs. Firstly, we should state that we always advocate using a CPQ implementation as an amazing opportunity to simplify processes and to redesign your organisation in a leaner, meaner way. Not simplifying processes first is one of the mistakes we consider in our brochure Seven Mistakes Managers and Business Owners make when Buying and Implementing a CPQ System. Once that’s done, you need a solution that takes into consideration your real needs, and integrates well with your whole system landscape. As a general rule, as you go up the range of CPQ offerings you find systems that operate more as a platform for your development than as a boxed-in application. These will give you:
more flexibility over how your product catalogue is represented
more ability to define processes and workflows that represent your way of working
more powerful calculations to represent the information you need to analyse a deal, and document composition engines that let you produce quotes that better reflect your brand and your customers’ needs
It’s often hard to anticipate what you’ll need in the future. However it is harder still to replace a system when you’ve outgrown it. A successful CPQ implementation will have your users asking for more and more functionality, so plan for success and ensure your system will grow with you.
Sometimes the flip side of customisation is that you need a stronger support team to sustain your CPQ system. Beware of any vendor who promises that this is simple – true enterprise software rarely is quick and easy to maintain. Your business does have complexity embedded in it, and a CPQ solution can magnify this. When you bring together the disparate disciplines of sales, product marketing, branding, pricing and finance as well as strong audibility, it is hard enough at a business level, let alone as a technological solution. It’s why CPQ is so powerful when executed well, and so challenging when it’s not.
If you want to realise the benefits a CPQ system will provide, you need to embrace this complexity, tame it and make it work for you. A great enterprise-level CPQ offering will help you with this task, not prevent you from seeing any challenges at all. An enterprise vendor will ensure you have support, training, application help desks, and consulting or strong partners to guide you through your transformation.
If you have administrators for supporting systems (most commonly CRM or ERP systems), don’t be fooled into thinking that they can handle CPQ on the side of their current job. CPQ needs focus and skills that you won’t always find elsewhere. There’s nothing worse that seeing a great CRM admin turned into a frustrated and stressed employee by being asked to do too much and pulled apart by conflicting demands. Bring the right people in, develop and resource your support team well and make sure you select a system from a supportive vendor.
So, don’t be put off by the apparent complexity of some CPQ systems. Take a good look at your real business needs first and understand where the real value to your system will lie (hint: it’s rarely in the automation of existing legacy processes!). If your business value lies at the point where sales, marketing and finance collide, then select a system that embraces that and delivers the performance you need, now and in the future.
If you need any help choosing a CPQ solution, or defining your real requirements please get in touch for a no-commitment consultation and a chance to talk through your choices.
Click to read part one of this article.