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This morning, I attended the final CPQ session at Dreamforce 2013, “Configure. Price. Quote. Succeed.”

The very cool thing about this morning’s session is that it was hosted by Salesforce, yet it was all about configure price quote (CPQ) and the different ways Salesforce customers have approached the Quote-to-Cash problem.

The fact there was an entire session devoted to CPQ (sponsored by Salesforce!) demonstrates the growing importance of CPQ within the Salesforce ecosystem. I was particularly excited to see how receptive the audience was to this topic–especially at 8:30am on a Thursday. In fact, one of the first questions/comments following the session was, “This is one of the best sessions I’ve attended all week, so thanks for that.”

We had a really solid panel with representation from some great companies. Speakers included:

  • Glen Renton, Vice President of Information Technology at Ricoh Canada Inc.
  • Suzette Godwin Romer, Director of ES Worldwide Sales Ops at ADP
  • Sudheer Sra, IT Senior Manager at BMC software
  • Sundi Balu, CIO Telestra Global.

Each panel member took the audience through the CPQ journey, sharing their approach, the product they selected, their implementation strategy, and tips for success. Representing Apttus was Glen Renton, from Ricoh Canada, a global information and technology company and a leader in information mobility for today’s changing workforce. Glen shared how, in spite of its robust and complex business processes, the company was able to simplify sales configuration, pricing, and quoting with Apttus and Salesforce, and offered some tips for success.

Ricoh adopts Apttus CPQ to simplify the Quote-to-Cash process

Glen shared:

“We have some very complex configuration rules behind the scenes, but the configurator we selected is easy and friendly. We have complex pricing that has to align with our configuration rules, and Apttus allowed us to design the pricing model that meets our business needs. And behind our customer-facing proposal templates, we have leasing terms and conditions, service documents, and other supporting artifacts behind the deal, and we’ve been able to unify the process of generating these documents thanks to Apttus CPQ.”

Glen also shared how adopting Apttus CPQ along with Salesforce enabled significant efficiencies—not just for the sales organization, but for the back office:

“We use [the item level detail in CPQ] for our forecasting. Prior to putting in customer relationship management (CRM) and CPQ, our forecasting was at the dollar figure, at the sales revenue figure. Now that we have access to item level details, we can feed the supply chain the information they need for better demand planning and inventory planning. So not only does CPQ benefit Sales from a productivity standpoint, it benefits the supply chain too.”

5 Best Practices for Implementing CPQ from Ricoh

1. Roll-out in small instances

“Don’t try and boil the ocean as it will lead to a lengthy delivery timeline, and you will lose the patience of your business users. Nobody needs perfection today, and if you seek perfection it will take forever. So break it down into accomplishable goals. Ricoh took a 90/70 approach, in that we took elements of the work, and chunked it out into 90 day cycles to realize 70% of the benefit, and this has worked well.”

2. Minimize customization

“Try to keep it out-of-the-box when possible, and adjust your process to the tool—you’ll save a lot of time and money.”

3. Focus on usability

“Remember, the tools are being used by business people, so it’s got to be dead simple to use. For us, we are constantly working to improve this area.”

4. Implement a change management methodology

“We based ours on the Kotter methodology, and it has worked well. Adopting a process and methodology for change management is proven to improve effectiveness of adoption and usability in the organization, especially for those of you embarking on significant change.”

5. Manage the project scope

“This ties into your ability to take an agile approach.”

“Finally,” Glen shared, “Selecting a trusted partner to help you implement is really important. The days of tackling projects internally with IT, and . . . trying to learn a new process, and build it it on your own are over. No one has patience for that. It’s important to find a great partner to help you with your implementation. We partnered with Apttus, and have established a great working relationship with them, and its been instrumental to our success.”

 

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