Implementing Quote-to-Cash (QTC) programmes may seem like a daunting task. It’s a transversal exercise that multiple divisions must engage in. Over the course of the many QTC programmes that we have delivered, we have learned valuable lessons. Taking heed of these best practices leads not only to successful programmes, it also gives peace of mind to all key stakeholders involved.
Quote-to-Cash is an umbrella term for the commercial processes of a company. QTC tackles the whole business cycle from the moment a prospect turns into an opportunity up to the moment a sale has been closed, products or services have been delivered, payment for these products or services has been received and the revenue is recognised. Marketing, Sales, Operations, Purchasing, Finance,… all these departments need to have their say in the programme. This requires tight programme management, buy-in from executive sponsors. And above all, the right questions need to be asked.
1. Are we ready?
Inside a large company, not all departments have the same level of maturity. From past programmes, we have learned that QTC programmes are most successful when the entire organisation is ready for a programme that transforms business processes and marries these processes with technology. The best way to tackle this is with an organisational readiness assessment. By studying the roadmap, understanding goals and strategies, setting milestones and knowing what return on investment is expected, you can identify the gaps and estimate what skills need to be developed. It is key to eliminate the disconnect between different departments before the programme starts.
2. Can we simplify?
Many companies start out with a simple product offering and one business model. But as the company grows, products and services are added, solutions bundled, acquisitions made, sales channels added, and deals become more complex. Along the way, the support systems that were built, are adapted to reflect the growing complexity and new software packages are added for point solutions. Before you know it, you are working with disparate systems that are poorly governed. A key question to be asked before the implementation kicks off is investigating how processes can be simplified. Processes may have been created on the fly to cope with a specific problem, but do not connect with other procedures. When starting a QTC programme, reviewing/validating all processes and eliminating unnecessary steps will not only benefit the efficiency of an organisation, but will also simplify the entire programme.
3. Can we divide the programme into phases?
Quote-to-Cash is a major transformation and it is advised not to do the entire programme in one big bang. During the discovery/scoping phase, it is good to assess if the programme can be chopped up into different phases. For every company, this can be different. A logical split is to view Configuration, Pricing and Quoting (CPQ) and Billing as separate streams. Another option is to tackle one region at a time or to start with the region that has the most complex processes and then apply the learnings from that pilot to the remaining roll-outs.
4. Is our data clean?
Data is the beating heart of any company, so it’s vital to ensure that all existing data is correct before migrating it to a new system. Data cleansing is an important subject and one that is usually underestimated or overlooked.
5. Can we continue ‘business as usual’?
However invasive a QTC programme is, it should not prevent the company from keeping the business running as usual. It is imperative that a company can continue to operate as normal until everything is migrated to the new system. Whether you are bringing in a new billing system or not, you are still invoicing to customers. The business should not stall and a QTC programme should have no impact at all on the relationship with your customers.
6. How do we communicate to the users?
End-users know that their way of working will be impacted/different when a transformation takes place. So it is important to start communicating early on and get all stakeholders on side and involved. A good way to keep them informed throughout the programme is to release bits of information at different stages so they know what is coming. A QTC programme brings huge advantages to most users. Most people don’t like to do manual interventions, so automating these tedious tasks will be seen as a positive. By training people, you can also generate excitement around the programme that will help people accept the change more readily.
7. How do we manage our implementation partner?
During a QTC implementation, your consulting partner becomes an extension of your team. It is essential to keep communication lines open between the customer and the systems integrator. We advise you to have daily stand-ups and lots of open discussions, where both parties make themselves available as much as possible to answer questions and tackle small hurdles before they turn into big problems. With more people working remotely or from home, it’s even more important to take an open approach to collaborate with your integrator.
Being able to manage the customer revenue cycle in one system through QTC brings organisations a number of benefits. It helps them make money and save money. Because of its transformational impact on a business, it is key to prepare well and have all the important questions answered and boxes checked before embarking on the transformation. As the saying goes: by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.