Print Posted by Configure One on 08/09/2017

The Quote-To-Order Process

By: Chris DiEllo
The Quote-To-Order Process

An efficient quote-to-order process is essential to customer satisfaction and repeat business, but it can be difficult to structure a fast and effective process for customizable and configurable products. However, by focusing on four key areas, the process becomes manageable. Here’s what to look for when defining your configure, price, quote (CPQ) process.

Quote

The first step in the quoting process is to define the perfect product for the customer by selecting from available features and options governed by rules or to calculate required quantities for components that vary by size. This may seem simple, but in reality, quoting can be extremely complex. Certain choices may preclude selecting other choices, or they may require additional items, for example.

In the past, most companies had product experts create configurations, which the engineering team reviewed to ensure everything was correct. Once the configuration received approval, the order team would calculate the cost by adding the cost of each component and then calculate the selling price. Service packages, value-added features, and other add-ons must be added to the configuration and price.

Even using a spreadsheet, this process is difficult. Many companies add approval steps to the process in an effort to catch errors, but this merely serves to prolong the order cycle even further.

The manual quote cycle is a time-consuming and error-prone process that needlessly extends the order cycle and product lead time, possibly resulting in unhappy customers and potential revenue loss. Many companies turn to CPQ software to simplify and automate the process.

Proposal or Contract

Once the details of the product, price and cost are nailed down, the order team generates a proposal or contract, spelling out the details of the configuration and price. Without CPQ software, this is a manual step that requires re-entering the product data, opening the door to errors of transposition or omission.

CPQ software automates this step, making it easy for the sales team to explain the details of the proposal to customers — confident that the configuration and price are correct as originally configured — and that everything the customer requires is included. Sales management can also rely on order profitability since CPQ software calculates margins along with the price.

Negotiation

At this point, the sales team and the customer ask questions, negotiate details or pricing changes, and share installation details or other necessary information. In a manual quote process, it’s easy to overlook details or omit critical changes, but a CPQ platform provides a virtual “negotiation table” that captures the discussion details and any agreed-upon changes.

Order

With skillful negotiations and a bit of good luck, the prospect agrees to place an order at this point. In a manual system, the details of the configuration and pricing would be re-entered into an order management system and possibly into a manufacturing system. Each step opens the door to yet more errors and omissions. These errors could result in frequent returns, more rework, higher costs and unhappy customers.

With a CPQ platform, the platform handles moving the data to other business systems, so it moves quickly and accurately without manual intervention. The work order, the sales order and the invoice all contain the same information — and there are no delays or transposition concerns.

A good CPQ platform can reduce the order cycle’s time and cost while helping to ensure margins and customer satisfaction. With so many benefits, it makes sense to automate the quote-to-order process with a CPQ solution.



Author bio: Chris DiEllo is Sales Director for Configure One. DiEllo graduated from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and prior to Configure One, spent time as an engineering manager for a plastics manufacturing company. 

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