December 18 by James Lustenader

Define Quote-to-Cash We Will

Simply put, Quote-to-Cash (QTC) is today’s most important business process. Quote-to-Cash describes the end-to-end process that covers your entire sales lifecycle—from product and service configuration, to pricing, quote creation, contract negotiation and execution, all the way through to invoicing, billing, orders, revenue recognition and renewals. A streamlined Quote-to-Cash process makes “closing deals” a highly visible, effective, and integrated process that can be managed—even across geographies—all in one place.

The reality is that most companies today do not have a fully automated and integrated Quote-to-Cash process. This is a relatively new concept, putting all the processes outlined above into one system & platform. Due to this existing paradigm, each department of a company is in charge of their own function, and uses their own system and process to manage it with little-no visibility and connectivity to the upstream and downstream steps. The more forward-thinking companies have realized that there is great value to be gained by connecting these processes, and so are assessing how best to accomplish a transition from their existing state to a more functional and beneficial one.

When you think about it, transitioning from manual & siloed Quote-to-Cash processes to automated and integrated Quote-to-Cash process is a lot like the journey a Jedi youngling undergoes to become a Jedi Master. It’s an enduring journey, complete with training, trials, challenges and new philosophies. Nobody is born a Jedi, the individual must make a personal choice to undergo the process, just as organizations must make a conscious decision to fully automate their Quote-to-Cash process.

Upon completion of the transformation however, the results are fantastic!

The Trajectory of a Jedi Company: Adopting Quote-to-Cash

Jedi Masters are incredibly strong and agile, with the power to control the force to manipulate the world around them in amazing ways. A company who has automated their Quote-to-Cash process also gains levels of strength and agility which previously seemed impossible without the tools and knowledge gained during the transformation. Jedi Masters are also wise, the strongest are even able to predict the future and feel dangerous incidents across the galaxy. Organizations that have centralized their Quote-to-Cash data into one cloud platform can also use their wealth of stored information to predict the future with increased certainty and can sense impending disturbances in real time.

Much like Jedi’s within the Jedi Order, Quote-to-Cash companies benefit from a large community of luminaries, thought-leaders and innovators across Sales, Sales Ops/Administrators, and back-office visionaries from Finance, IT and Legal all dedicated to help their whole company run business faster and smarter on the Salesforce platform. From an online community, to user groups, certifications, QTC gurus (Jedi High Council) and even the Quote-to-Cash summit Accelerate (your Jedi Temple) at your disposal.

“A Jedi is never alone others in the order will always stand by you.” -Master Zhar, Jedi council of Dantooine

The transformation process a Jedi Padawan experiences while training to become a Knight and Master is dangerous on another level too. The temptation to give into the Dark Side is ever present and young Padawans are made aware of it very early on. It is natural for living beings (especially humans) to feel fear, joy, anger and love. Hence a Jedi must stay ever vigilant and aware of their feelings, so that they do not succumb to these temptations. In fact, it’s easier to be overcome with emotion than to block them out entirely. Turning to the Dark Side is the easy road but not the one with the most long term benefits.

Take Anikan Skywalker for instance, he learns that fear and love both bring certain strength which at first seems necessary and easily obtainable/controllable. Ultimately, this increased strength is shortsighted and comes at a high price, and Anikan’s story shows us that he is actually weak for succumbing to the temptations that the Sith offer. A Jedi’s true strength stems from overcoming the weakness of selfish thoughts and feelings, and doing what is right for the greater good, in this case for the company. Admittedly, feelings are relative and this debate around the motives of both Jedi & Sith is what makes the Star Wars story compelling to so many people. However, there are salient points to be gathered from this analogy of Dark vs Light side and automation of manual processes.

The Trajectory of a Sith Company: Succumbing to the Status Quo

Transformation can sometimes seem daunting, a challenging process, a possible risk. Staying the same is easy. The status quo seems safe. But in business, much like in Star Wars, succumbing to the easy route, the Dark Side, becomes a slippery slope.

“If once you start down the dark side, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.” -Yoda to Luke

But the greatest risk of all however, is failing to change. Those who don’t evolve are left behind. Author Ray Wang writes “Digital Darwinism is unkind to those who wait,” and Forbes writer Amy Morin asserts that a company’s greatest competition is the status quo. Relying on manual steps, is one way companies as a whole are regularly faced with the choice between Jedi Knighthood and Sith Lordship. But the fork in the road is often presented at an individual level as well.

Companies often struggle with instilling their employees with a sense of doing what is right, of hiring and fostering what have been termed good “Corporate Citizens.” Within this philosophy is a theory of a toxic employee, these are selfish individuals who are in fact more productive (powerful) in the short term when it comes to their own day-day processes. These individuals may go around mandated processes in order to complete their tasks faster, but in the long run this hurts the corporation and allowing these bad habits to continue increases the chance of the whole process breaking down and going to the Dark Side.

An important result of automating and formalizing a company’s Quote-to-Cash process is that it helps control the bad behavior that is prevalent in companies that have disparate systems and manual processes for each step of the Quote-to-Cash cycle. By bringing each step of the cycle into one system or platform, visibility and accountability increases. By automating the manual processes and setting clear rules & guidelines around pricing approvals for example, corporations can limit the temptations of the Dark Side and ensure the greater good for all.

Want to learn more about Quote-to-Cash and meet other Jedi Companies?
Be sure to attend Accelerate 2016, the Quote-to-Cash event of the year, taking place April 12th in San Francisco. Register today, and get 50% off of the Early Bird special!

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