There are many ways to skin a cat, or so the saying goes. Quite why this saying took hold is not completely clear to me, but it’s one that pops up in my thoughts from time to time. Putting dubious acts of animal cruelty aside it does remain true that there are often many different ways to tackle a challenge. In the world of Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) implementations we have found this to be especially true and have developed our approaches over the years to give the ultimate amount of flexibility to our clients.
Let’s take a look at the different approaches that can be taken when implementing CPQ, and following that we will consider the different levels of service that are on offer, and finally we’ll review some other considerations that might determine the best way to remove the fur from our feline friend.
Walpole Partnership offers three distinct approaches to implementing CPQ:
- Fixed scope implementations
- Bespoke implementations
- Implementation as part of our full managed service
Fixed scope implementations are a great way to get started with a CPQ project. By taking a known and definable ‘chunk’ of the project we can get you up and running quickly. We can provide a predictable cost and timescale and can start to provide the first benefits of CPQ to you as quickly as possible. Many clients prefer this approach for a first phase of a larger implementation as it gives great clarity on what the system capabilities are, and gets momentum going.
Bespoke implementations are the most traditional way to implement CPQ. The project will be defined according to business requirements and delivered through an agile, semi-agile or traditional cascade project management methodology. When executed well, this approach gives the most tailored solution and is best suited when requirements are very well defined and expectations are clear.
We also offer a full managed service which optionally can include implementation too - effectively your first service ticket raised is a request to gather requirements and implement the system. From this point on, everything is taken care of as part of the service - both from the initial system setup through to ongoing development and changes to meet emerging business needs. This approach best suits organisations with more limited IT capability. It’s perfect for companies who are looking for a complete solution to their needs, rather than the tools to provide it for themselves.
Whichever approach you choose, having a strong and experienced implementation partner, with proven discipline and standards is the best guarantee of success.
Levels of Service
Within the three distinct approaches outlined above we can also adjust the level of service we provide. We can define this as:-
- Do it for you
- Do it with you
- Teach you
When we ‘do it for you’ we are happy to take full responsibility for the development of your system. Naturally we will ask for input to the business requirements and processes, for insight into the change management needed, and for a level of executive sponsorship, but ultimately we can take all the pain away and deliver you a system according to your needs.
Frequently we find a ‘do it with you’ approach makes the best of your existing IT and business resources. We can involve your teams who may support ‘adjacent’ systems to CPQ like CRM, eCommerce or ERP systems, and can work with your own IT support functions to leave them ready to provide user guidance once the implementation is complete. We can generate training material for your internal education professionals to deliver and can dovetail into your security and infrastructure teams to ensure the CPQ system is a great fit.
Finally, there’s the ‘teach you’ option. Several of our clients want to become self-sufficient, and to take a greater share of the development effort, but need a helping hand. We can train your IT professionals on the fundamentals of CPQ and can enable them to be a core part of the development activity. We often find that once we’ve defined the core architecture many of the tasks can be handed off, especially repeatable elements like building out a product catalogue, or defining document outputs. By ‘teaching you to fish’ we let you feed yourself on CPQ development for a lifetime.
Whichever approach is right for you, the flexibility we provide is key. Every organisation is different and we respect that, and are happy to create the perfect blend for you.
Further considerations include language and localisation - we have extensive experience of working across Europe and the Middle East and we know how important it is know the culture and to be fluent in communications. Where we have those skills ourselves we know we can deploy them well, but if we don’t then we look to form partnerships with local providers who can ensure the fit is perfect.
We need to take account of the size and skill levels of your existing team, and be mindful of any existing partnerships - perhaps with other Systems Integrators or IT providers. We put the word ‘Partnership’ in our company name for a very good reason, and we have been told that we ‘play nicely with others’ when it comes to forming the right team for you.
Finally we need to reflect your business priorities, and the workload and resource levels of your teams who we interact with. Taking the time to understand deadlines, busy periods, business drivers and the natural cadence of your business is equally important to choosing the right approach and deploying it in the optimum way for you.
No kittens were killed in the writing of this article.
If you want to explore which CPQ implementation approach is right for your business, please get in touch.
'CPQ Implementation Approaches' was written by Walpole Partnership's MD, Andy Pieroux.