Meet the team behind Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ
Building your own CPQ tool is per definition extremely tricky. But building a complex CPQ tool to extend another CPQ tool is a different ball-game completely. Nevertheless, this is what the team behind Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ does each and every day.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with the team to understand what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and why. The Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ project was launched in March 2016 and the first version went live later that same year. This impressive feat was possible thanks to an experienced team consisting of only four people - Måns af Klercker, Tariq Asghar, Valerijs Prokudins and Pankaj Mishra.
To start with, let’s look at their experience and why they’re such a good fit for the Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ team.
- Måns af Klercker (Sweden) - Senior Product Manager for Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ. Has worked with Tacton and CPQ in Salesforce since 2009. R&D manager and CTO at Tacton and was also a principal architect and developer of Tacton Studio and other core pieces of the Tacton software stack. Has been with the company for more than 15 years.
- Pankaj Mishra (India) - Senior Software Developer with 8 years’ experience with Salesforce and CPQ within Salesforce. Responsible for data modeling and designing the Salesforce backend.
- Valerijs Prokudins (Latvia) - Software Developer. Started his career building CAD-systems before moving over to consulting, designing and implementing CRM systems. 5+ years of experience within Salesforce. Designs the backend of Tacton Extension, configures the app and implements backend processes.
- Tariq Asghar (Pakistan) - Senior Software Developer who acts as Lightning UI Lead on the team. With extensive experience in designing and developing user interfaces, he is responsible for UI/UX and has created all the Lightning components for the application.
Tell me about Tacton Extension! How come there is a need for an extension to Salesforce CPQ?
Måns: The Salesforce CPQ is a great tool for simple configurations and that is really where it delivers the most value. Tacton does not replace this configurator, but rather extends its functionality and makes it more apt for complex manufacturing companies. You can say it “shakes hands” with Salesforce CPQ - hence the name “Extension”. The main difference is that Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ is used for high-end complex configuration where you have thousands of parts and/or complex rule sets or where there is a need for customized documentation.
What are the challenges of solving both complex configuration and integration with Salesforce, simultaneously?
Måns: From a Product Manager’s point of view, I would say finding the right people. Although Salesforce is a really big company with thousands of users, it’s surprisingly hard to find the right competence for Salesforce integration. Throw advanced configuration into the mix and it’s clear you need to look globally when recruiting a team as specialized as ours. So that’s what we did. Valerijs was working with configurators in Latvia, Pankaj came straight from the U.K. to work for Tacton and Tariq, who is originally from Pakistan, was already in Sweden. I am glad we have found not only excellent developers, but also great co-workers, for our team.
Pankaj: From time to time it can be a challenge to work with so many different systems, like Apex and Lightning, together with Tacton CPQ. What’s more, we’re constantly working on making the end-user experience as easy and flexible as possible. And even though the result is easy to work with, it adds an extra layer of complexity from a programming point of view.
What do you like the most about developing Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ?
Tariq: I can only speak for myself but as a developer I want to work with challenging projects that really test my knowledge and expand my skill set. This software, and its connection to the complex Tacton conguration engine, is high-level programming that I really enjoy.
Valerijs: Before I came to Tacton, I worked a lot as a consultant, which means you never really have time to perfect or improve the product. You just create something that solves a problem and move on to the next project. Working for a company like Tacton, with a product like this, is something I find very satisfying. Just consider the fact that we constantly go back and adjust, do performance tuning and improve the product to get better and faster. It’s a very different way of working to what I’ve done previously.
Pankaj: I enjoy working in a small team like ours and that we get to create something from scratch. Tacton has over 200 employees, but you get the feeling of working for a startup when you’re creating the “1.0 version” of a product.
What’s next for Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ and the team?
Måns: We are working hard to release some new, exciting features in time for Dreamforce in November. Worth noting is deeper integration to the Salesforce CPQ, that we will work directly with the price engine and also a closer collaboration with the Salesforce community.
And there you have it - another glance behind the scenes of one of our products and the people that make it all happen. If this interview has made you interested in knowing more about Tacton Extension for Salesforce CPQ, download a product sheet here or watch a demo here.