If your focus is improving B2B online operations, it may be time to implement automated quotes. When B2B clients see how time-consuming (and prone for human error) a traditional bid-quote process can be, it’s natural for it to be added to the project list. And not only are they more complex but the time to complete them is increasingly shorter. Yet before heading off to review new platform and app products, Xngage recommends taking a few steps first.
Step One: Do the Research and Set Your Objectives for Success
While the clear objective within any Request-for-Quote (RFQ) process is to improve efficiencies and effectiveness, there are always other secondary and tertiary objectives. To create your short list of common objectives, take a pulse through stakeholder surveys. Research with cross-functional participants should turn up a range of system improvements for both people and technology. With varied voices in the mix, surveys and insights create diversity, accountability, and adoption of the new system as well.
While all input is valid, select the core objectives that move the needle of business impact. Is bid-quote completion turnaround an issue today? Is accuracy in the ERP something that needs work? Some objectives are more important than others, and those that support you in completing more orders (and in your most profitable segments) are worth highlighting. After you’ve uncovered these core objectives, communicate them throughout your organization, thereby setting a north star for the digital project and creating alignment.
Step Two: Create Relevant Use Cases to Share (Alongside Your Tech Stack) with Vendors
When you hire a strategic partner like Xngage, we collaborate on the jobs you want your people and systems to do. We help you to define use cases and identify solutions that are a better fit for your needs. Just like buying an automobile, the better that you can articulate what you want from RFQs for your organization, the better you can negotiate at the time of purchase. These use cases should include anything that would be online or offline throughout the entire Quote-to-Cash process and drive your business impact.
One use case might be “salesperson receipt of email notifications by bid type” that allows these employees to receive matches to the criteria they set. Do they want to know buying locations, service codes or geographic job details? This is one use case among many that, coupled with your tech stack, could be shared with vendors to understand the ecosystem more quickly. As digital experts, we can help identify, prioritize, and map use cases to your systems so you see how that wish list can become a reality. Will your current ERP and/or OMS system support your use cases? What systems are governing price adjustment rules and other important controls regarding the quotation process? What workflows internally on the sell-side need to be considered to issue a quote? This evaluation process will expose any gaps prior to your bid-quote technology purchase or integration project.
Step Three: Plan for Change Management…NOW
Since the RFQ, or more advanced configure-price-quote (CPQ), system is so central to the lifeblood of your business, there is very little room for error and mal-adoption. We strongly encourage your C-suite, and in particular your Head of Sales and Head of Human Resources, to engage in this project as early as possible. The implementation of integrated systems is only fully realized when the people supporting it are well-trained and well-adjusted to the new expectations and workflows. Training can make the difference between a successful and less-successful automation transition that impacts business operations. And on the plus side, when teams can sell more, sell more efficiently, get time back in their day, and ultimately grow their own impact on the business, you win. Support and alignment with key personnel is as important as the purchase of any technology to ensure that the ROI is realized sooner than later.
Automation can be powerful if implemented properly. Doing research, preparing use cases, and planning for change management are all important steps prior to engaging vendors. And candidly, this helps them to better help you. When you do this pre-work, the result is better project flow and expense management – a superior win-win for you.