The CPQ Implementation Guide and Avoiding Common Pitfalls
This CPQ Implementation guide was designed to give a general overview of the process from start to finish and how to navigate challenges, and optimize your CPQ project.
Implementing a Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) solution for manufacturers is an exciting time for everyone involved. The business is heading towards a sustainable, flexible, and scalable future. This future enables smooth quoting processes while also focusing on exact customer requirements they have come to expect in their everyday purchasing, speed, ease, and accuracy.
This is a truly exciting time for many customers, but of course, there are worries and fears of a Configure Price Quote implementation going wrong. Let’s take a deep dive into how Configure, Price, Quote software projects can be started on the right foot in our CPQ software implementation guide. Let’s take a deep dive into how Configure, Price, Quote software projects can be started on the right foot in our CPQ software implementation guide. We’ve broken it down into three categories, define, develop and deploy. In addition to helping you figure out how to implement CPQ, we’ve also provided some challenges companies have faced when implementing CPQ, and how to address them, and explore the CPQ implementation best practices you should be aware of!
The CPQ Implementation Guide Step 1: Define your project
Setting your teams up for success by defining goals before the project starts is an essential way to clearly state where the project should head and even timelines. All implementation projects need to start with planning and definition. The objective of the first phase is to reach a joint agreement about the project. It consists of one or more workshops to determine the functional needs of the solution, and it also forms the basis for the project budget and timeline. As part of the CPQ best practices, this first stage helps you understand what type of system and tools you will need, allowing you to set up a list of things that will be required to implement the platform.
Creating a roadmap for success
For CPQ implementations, there’s no one size fits all solution for manufacturers. Projects are unique based on several different factors. That’s why it’s critical to start the project with realistic expectations. Defining pain points, targets and business benefits are some normal expectations. A common issue for manufacturers with CPQ projects is starting with too large of a scope. In a roadmap workshop creating the minimal viable product (MVP) is important. The MVP usually starts by planning a phased rollout where it begins with one integration, one product, or one market.
Another key process for a successful roadmap is talking to the different users of the CPQ. For instance, sales and engineering will probably use the product in different ways, making it important to take into consideration their insights for a successful rollout. Including someone who understands the inner workings of the various systems you use will also help enable a smooth process. You need to address the needs of your team at every level, and that includes learning the details of how people in your organization operate and how the right CPQ solution could benefit them.
Define your users
CPQ is a solution that can go beyond just helping your sales team. Of course, your sales team will be able to sell faster, produce accurate quotes, and more, but did you know engineering, and even marketing can be impacted positively by CPQ?
Going beyond the typical quote to cash journey involves enabling not only sales to use CPQ but others. Your marketing team can use visual CPQ, often called visual configuration, or visualization directly on your website to provide photo-realistic images of your product, engaging the buyer before even speaking with a sales rep.
Engineers can use CAD Automation to quickly generate drawings and files based on any configuration. Even non-technical sales reps will be able to configure products using guided selling and needs-based questions. Knowing who will be the end-user of your CPQ solution will enable you to select features that are best suited for how you do business.
Define your KPIs
A logical step in your CPQ implementation process would be to pick some key performance indicators (KPIs) to map out major goals. Some common goals we see with our manufacturing customers:
- Sell highly configurable products faster
- Reduce order errors
- Increase deal sizes
- Increase time to production
- Give 100% accurate customer quotes
- Define possible integrations
Define product features and integrations
CPQ comes with a host of integrations to CRM, ERP, PLM, and more, knowing which of these processes you’d like to integrate with at the start of your project will help you avoid manual work. When selecting a CPQ, make sure they have standard integrations to the essential systems you need to integrate to. Focus only on crucial integrations in the early phases to allow for a quick return on investment. Add the additional integrations in later phases and do separate ROI calculations for the specific integrations.
Additional options may be needed for some but not others, such as visual configuration. For some sellers, a bill of material may not be good enough for an end customer to decide to purchase the product. Some items simply need to be seen before they are purchased, and visualization can speed that up. While others who sell services such as motors are more concerned with the output than the visuals. This and more don’t need to be selected early in the process but can help you convince customers even more.
CPQ Implementation Guide Step 2: Develop Documentation
Documentation can be a slippery slope when it comes to where manufacturers’ data is stored. Common places for data to be stored are in excel sheets and even veteran team members’ heads. A successful CPQ implementation will have all this data in one place, so finding it is critical.
A great way to do this is to start again in increments. Selecting one product for instance, and gathering all the data tables, UI fields, and configuration logic will show how the process should work optimally. Deciding this will help prioritize the scope of the data.
CPQ Implementation Guide Step 3: Launch
The final step in the CPQ implementation is the deploy phase. Planning for a CPQ rollout has some common qualities and should be planned well in advance of the launch. Here are some common questions asked about the rollout:
- How will users be trained?
- How will you market it internally?
- Following up on KPIs
- Where do users report issues and get support?
- How is success measured?
Avoiding common challenges
CPQ purchases can be an exciting time for manufacturers. Akin to turning over a new leaf from the old way products were sold to a new faster, more efficient way to work. Not only will your team be able to ensure accuracy but also enable your customers to get their products fast as their accustomed to.
So why are there so many horror stories of failed CPQ projects? Those failures can mean a lot of things too expensive, data issues, technology limitations and more. Luckily, we’ve got a whole blog on why they fail, but let’s highlight some of the main topics.
Management isn’t fully invested in the product
Involving different parts of your organization isn’t easy but addressing the requirements of each group will help the project succeed. CPQ being a knowledge-based tool needs the knowledge from different departments to succeed. Backing from senior management is essential, to allow for prioritization of the implementation of the CPQ over the day-to-day business tasks for all these organizations, including the busy experts.
Lack of user adoption
Let’s face it, if your investment isn’t being used by your team, your CPQ project is very likely to fail. Some common causes of this is the new project not being well integrated into their workflows or the configurator is confusing and slower than how they were selling before. Making sure all these concerns are addressed will help your users feel comfortable working with CPQ. Training with CPQ is a great way to get your team to acclimate to the project and show the benefits of using the software in real-time.
Scope creep is an uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope after the project has begun. This is very common in CPQ projects as you learn about and define processes that quite often were never documented before. Therefore, it’s important to define project objectives early in the project and refer to them as much as possible when deciding on changes to the project. It’s also important to have a defined change control process, with a steering group that has backing from senior management. There’s no easy solution to scope creep but being aware of the problem is essential.
Losing focus on customer–centricity
CPQ enables you to get more out of your internal processes, faster quoting, better accuracy, and a better sales pitch. This is great, but sometimes companies lose track of how it can help customers. A well-designed CPQ project helps enable your company to utilize not only CPQ but visual configuration and Design automation to keep the focus on expediting the customer buying experience while providing realistic expectations that keep them coming back.
Bad data quality
A good sales configurator will use your product data existing in current systems. But how good is the quality of that data today? Do you have an organization in which all knowledge is stored in people’s heads and documentation is missing? As stated above, the output from the configurator will never be better than the input, which means you need to make an inventory of your product data and documentation. You might need to structure and systemize your product data before selecting or implementing sales configuration software. If you don’t, the implementation will probably take much longer than expected, and changes in the tool will be done multiple times back and forth before being able to release.
Underestimating the rollout
Not having a CPQ implementation plan for the rollout phase is a challenge that can be avoided by planning the rollout at the beginning of the project. Not having qualified support, or measurable KPIs can lead to challenges during the rollout phase of the project.
A CPQ implementation with proper guidance can make all the difference
CPQ can be the first step in your journey to a truly customer-centric digital buying and selling journey. The best way to implement this process is with software experts like the ones at Tacton who have a proven track record of engaging not only your employees but your customers and maximizing your investment in CPQ.
We hope this CPQ implementation guide helped you narrow down your search. Whether you’re at the beginning of the process of searching for CPQ or getting ready to implement, Tacton has you covered from start to finish. If you’d like to learn more schedule your personalized demo and creating your roadmap to successful product implementation.