13 Nov The importance of a sound strategy in CPQ implementation
by John Pora
We at Simplus are major advocates of the benefits of implementing a CPQ platform when your company sells a varied, complicated list of products or services with variable or subscription pricing. Once you have reached that point of realization, it’s likely that you’re dealing with the pains of not having a CPQ solution but still needing to quickly deliver error-free quotes. Implementing and transitioning to a feature-rich CPQ, like Oracle CPQ, while continuing to sell can feel like rebuilding an airplane while you’re in the air. You can’t stop operations while you connect systems and processes, but you also need the benefits of Oracle CPQ as quickly as possible. As you implement your CPQ and integrate it with existing CRM/ERP systems, the major issues you want to avoid are employee rejection, multiple data-entry points, and data confusion. We’ll cover how you can steer clear of these problems for a highly-successful Oracle CPQ implementation through setting proper expectations, creating a master data strategy, and performing a full implementation to start.
Set proper expectations
You can spout off the benefits of Oracle CPQ all you want: reducing decision fatigue for customers, faster quote turnaround, 100% quote accuracy, and much more. But it’s always difficult to jump from the theoretical to the real, especially when you’re inconvenienced on the short term. Your salespeople won’t see the benefits at first; new processes are always slow, and the benefits won’t be seen the minute you flip the switch. That’s why it’s imperative to involve your salespeople in the transition process from the get-go and make them champions of the new system. It’s important to be upfront about the issues that will arise to prepare them for the transition period so that everyone knows that these initial adoption challenges are fleeting. Once that is understood, your implementation strategy must include enough time for training so your team can hit the ground running. With a solid understanding of pitfalls and a good training plan in place, the benefits of Oracle CPQ that you share will make sense and become goals rather than overpromises.
Create a master data strategy
Your data is vitally important. If you haven’t created a master data strategy that maps the full architecture and how data moves between your CRM, CPQ, and ERP systems, you may find yourself having to enter data into multiple systems to make sure it’s correct across each system. This opens you up to human errors that inevitably infiltrate your new system and defeats the purpose of a unified quote-to-cash process. A master data strategy should detail the fields and inputs for each of your systems. For example, your CRM will house all of the customer data, your CPQ keeps your product catalog, pricing, and generates agreements, and your ERP manages inventory and fulfillment. The master data strategy should document the individual fields in each of those systems and detail how each system treats those data points. If you have a full master data strategy, it’s less likely that you’ll run into integration problems, and more likely that your Oracle CPQ implementation will be successful.
Perform a full implementation
Performing a full implementation from the start sounds like the most counterintuitive advice, but relates to setting proper expectations and creating a master data strategy and combines them to ensure that your Oracle CPQ integration is working as it should. The main point is this: going by half measures only hinders your CPQ adoption. You need to commit fully to involving your salespeople so that they feel like the platform will serve their needs. Concurrently, the faster you build a great master data strategy, and adhere to that strategy, the faster you’ll be able to get all of the pieces working in concert. Not only that, but the more important features you have working from the start will excite your salespeople and show the power of your new Oracle CPQ implementation.
Getting started with Oracle CPQ, whether or not you were already using a CPQ platform, is almost always daunting. There are many hurdles and pitfalls to avoid, and issues can arise that range from annoying to seemingly catastrophic. However, problems can be prevented or completely mitigated through establishing the right expectations, creating a master data strategy, and implementing fully rather than in half-steps.
We at Simplus have shepherded many organizations through these pitfalls. For an experienced partner, contact us today.
John is the VP of Oracle Professional Services here at Simplus. He’s an accomplished business leader with more than 20 years of experience in developing and maintaining rigorous deployment and customer service practices for high-growth enterprise software companies.