4 Pillars of Implementation Success
CPQ applications are a powerful driver of sales growth that enables multiple sales channels to shorten sales cycles, boost sales productivity and maximize revenues. But as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben reminds us, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Such is the case when delivering today’s powerful suite of CPQ and quote-to-cash platforms.
Due to the complex, mission-critical nature of enterprise-grade CPQ, many companies have experienced a flawed CPQ implementation. At the heart of these failures is often a generic, unproven delivery methodology.
In order to maximize the return on investment, implementing enterprise-grade CPQ technology requires a focused, disciplined project delivery approach. aMind has successfully delivered complex, multi-channel CPQ and quote-to-cash solutions since 1980. Our battle-tested CPQ delivery methodology has been refined and proven over a wide of CPQ implementations to deliver exceptional business value.
aMind’s implementation methodology includes 4 pillars; value-driven, proof-based, iterative, and realistic.
Pillar 1: Value-driven
CPQ and quote-to-cash solutions require a strong partnership between business and technology to deliver quantified business value. The traditional requirements process where “management comes up with the ideas and passes them down” creates a disconnect for organizations looking to fully harness the power of a CPQ platform.
The scope and impact of CPQ solutions on an organization require a proven process for making decisions on what features to include and to monitor them through business metrics.
Relying on value-driven metrics helps business and software teams understand how all of the relevant CPQ actors and touch points interact. Value-driven metrics also, provide an empirical approach to determining priorities.
Disciplined processes and project governance are key to driving the correct amount of customization to the application for meeting both customer experience and total cost of maintenance objectives.
Pillar 2: Proof-based
The complexity, breadth, and depth of integrating CPQ into an organization’s core business processes and sales and operational support systems demands a consistent, proof-based process throughout delivery.
Areas of high business and technical risk must be targeted early and evaluated through a governance process that can drive decisions through agreed-upon criteria.
Your aMind project manager will schedule checkpoints throughout delivery to encourage transparent, “one team” communication regarding friction-inducing topics such as systems and teams-based RACI charts and methodology artifacts.
aMind’s implementation methodology places emphasis on establishing processes that enforce quality throughout delivery. At a minimum, the “Definition of Done” should include concrete criteria for meeting agreed upon unit test metrics for ensuring platform-specific test coverage is delivered as part of the project schedule and not as an after-thought.
As is often the case in an enterprise IT environment, projects are comprised of vertically-integrated teams working in different technologies. The aggressive pursuit of affirming continuous quality, along with continuous deployment, when available, is critical to proving early and often that integrated stories and features actually work, not just should work.
Pillar 3: Iterative
In our experience, a “hybrid agile blueprint” has proven to be the most effective methodology for CPQ implementations. Implementation success is measured against this criteria:
- The efficiency of execution. Was the project on-time and within budget?
- Solution acceptance and adoption. Do stakeholders fully accept the developed solution? Are users adopting it?
- Clarity of the solution roadmap. Has a distinct backlog of enhancements and features been maintained throughout the project to permit efficient, on-going execution?
The intent of the “hybrid” portion of the blueprint ensures that proper vetting is done upfront, during the project inception and discovery phase to effectively drive the iterative/agile sprint increments. This period of detailed project planning is critical for validating and refining project scope and delivery assumptions. It is also a key factor in confirming methodology, governance, roles and milestones.
The power of “agile” in a construction phase is realized by quickly developing and learning from smaller increments and iterations, rather than trying to get everything right all at once. Agile is inherently a more hands-on and active process than traditional models. Agile development leads to more informed acceptance of a solution. Feature prioritization is made with “eyes wide open”.
aMind’s CPQ delivery methodology places strong emphasis on the “Definition of Ready” and “Definition of Done” during the construction phase. This permits efficient and timely execution, and most importantly, drives acceptance and adoption of the final CPQ system.
Because “done is always better than perfect”, explicit enforcement of this criteria throughout the process validates that a story fully meets its intended need and mitigates the future risk of tech debt and delays.
User story quality plays a critical role. We build stories from the perspective of stakeholders and users. Explicit success criteria is validated from their perspective as well.
The alternative approach, used by many implementation consultants, relies on feature-based stories that describe a “system does something”. This approach often leads to confusion and ultimately risk acceptance and adoption failures.
The agile framework is also leveraged for scheduling formal checkpoints with stakeholders and users to drive informed agreement (or rejection) of iteratively-developed features.
This agile practice can be applied early in a CPQ project by demoing software from the perspective of a stakeholder or user to “prove the out of the box application wrong”. Demo sessions encourage active participation and are critical to confirming (and refining, if necessary) project assumptions regarding scope, areas of customization and user experience.
Pillar 4: Realistic
There are several methodology principles and best practices that aMind follows to ensure a realistic delivery plan. To avoid surprises, we start with a full picture evaluation of how all the pieces work together for both “happy path and “unhappy path” outcomes.
Next, to ensure the lowest total cost of ownership possible, requirements are driven by the features in commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications.
Lastly to foster continuous improvement, active stakeholder participation, and constructive conflict is encouraged.
aMind’s 4 pillars of CPQ methodology have been battle-tested through mission-critical CPQ implementations for some of the largest brands in the world including Honeywell, Time Warner Cable, Intuit, GE and Lexmark. Contact us to put our CPQ methodology to work for your CPQ success.