22 Mar 4 ways to pick a partner who can travel the journey
by Erich Rusch
Implementing a CPQ solution is a serious undertaking, like climbing a mountain. And while CPQ is a huge strategic advance and innovation for business processes, it’s also highly specialized and complicated. Successfully adopting CPQ is a journey, and it takes an experienced travel partner to lead you on that journey so that you actually meet the final destination and don’t wind up halfway up the mountain. Throughout a CPQ implementation project, there are several stages, or basecamps along the climb to the mountaintop: Kickoff, Design, etc. To make sure your project reaches each of these camps safely, you need a system integrator who truly understands what it means to walk the CPQ path more than any other product in the marketplace.
It’s easy to fall for the “ease of implementation” selling tactics. Lots of implementation partners advertise this, and however appealing it may sound, it’s also risky. There are high failure rates of many CPQ implementations, and they often fail because the clients picked partners who simply weren’t experienced enough with CPQ. Too many customers underestimate how perilous and difficult the journey to perfect CPQ is, and they fall because they picked the wrong partner.
At Simplus, we have executives and team members seasoned in highly complex and technical CPQ projects. We have seen projects through to completion in the past, and we have walked this path before. In short, we have climbed the mountain—again and again. We know how to address a variety of needs and concerns and take different routes to the top. And to help you as a customer pick the best partner, we’ve compiled four ways you can distinguish the experienced mountain climbers from the novices.
1. Work with a partner who has a proven methodology.
Every partner has a way of doing things. But not every way works. One of the most crucial ways to determine if an implementation partner is right for you is by looking at their methodology. We at Simplus are battle-hardened through all of the projects we’ve done and have taken a careful approach to crafting a methodology based on the collective wisdom of all the previous journeys we’ve taken. We believe in developing bolts, use cases, add-ons, and core architecture in advance as opposed to reinventing the wheel in every project. We also leverage a truly unique methodology that carefully weaves the best parts of agile and waterfall together, allowing us to lock down the most critical components during design but also iterate and improve the final product as long as we don’t change the fundamental assumptions of our projects.
2. Make sure the partner has evidence from previous projects.
One easy way to evaluate a potential partner is on the evidence from their previous journeys. What souvenirs have they collected from past projects? If the evidence isn’t easy to find, that should already be a red flag for you as the customer. Examples of a well-seasoned system integrator and partner are case studies, CSAT scores, references, and best practices. Be sure to find these pieces of information when considering a partner.
3. Check the depth and extent of the partner’s experience.
It’s not enough just to check for the evidence—you have to analyze that evidence to determine just how experienced the partner really is. It’s easy to make even a newbie appear trustworthy with some polished collateral. But that facade of experience can be paper thin if you don’t test the evidence for its validity. Here are some questions you should be asking as you evaluate a partner’s experience: Does the partner understand how CPQ changes within different verticals? Does the partner make deliberate efforts to accommodate those changes? Does the partner have a broader understanding of how CPQ fits into your entire Salesforce ecosystem, and not just a narrow understanding of CPQ alone? As you read through a partner’s evidence, you should be able to sense how they handle various situations and obstacles—not just repeated variations of what they know about CPQ.
4. Pick a partner who understands your perspective.
Finally, the most important consideration for picking the perfect partner is perspective. After all your research and deliberation, what can you tell about the partner’s capacity for empathy? Can the partner see things from your side? Can the partner take a customer view and see what success looks like from your perspective? To determine this aspect of the partner, it’s important that you don’t just accept the status quo because people have been doing things the same way forever. Look for a partner who has established specific industry practices and makes the process even easier depending on who they’re working with. Look for the partner who will stand up and say “No” to inefficient processes and make efforts to change those processes to align with industry best practices rather than the partner who always says “Yes” to shoehorning complex, non-standard customizations into CPQ just to avoid hard conversations in the process. Having those difficult conversations and making the tough decisions will ultimately improve maintainability, scalability, and quality in the long run. That’s the partner you want integrating your solution: the partner with empathy for your organization and a stellar perspective on the broader ecosystem.
CPQ is a mountain, and the customers and implementation partners are all climbers alike. It’s important to make sure your partner knows the best route for you, by evaluating the partner’s methodology, evidence, experience, and perspective.
Ready for an experienced mountain climber for a partner? Let Simplus show you the way. Starting building your journey today and call us.
Erich Rusch is Director of CPQ Presales Solutions at Simplus. Co-founder and CSO of CirrusOne until joining Simplus, Erich has years of experience in the CPQ space and has an unparalleled expertise in cloud solutions.