Efficiency. High quality. Insight. And grip. That’s what you get with business processes using uninterrupted data streams. In this article, we look at the options for extending the order-to-cash process. A process that affects many organizations and contributes significantly to the success (or failure) of these companies. This applies especially to new e-tech businesses, but also the companies that have experienced enormous growth during the pandemic, like shipping, delivery services and other logistics companies.
We identified credit management as an extension, at the end of the order-to-cash process. But what’s in front? Simple. We need systems for quotes. Your first thought might be that quoting seems like an unstructured, yet rather creative process. Ideas need to flow freely in order to create attractive documents. However, isn’t the lack of supporting standards and systems a hindrance rather than a help? We can get distracted by the care we put into the document. What we think should be in the chapters and paragraphs, not to mention the scope? But wait, are we forgetting something? Or more than one something? For instance, payment terms? Or indexation? Or former quotes? Or previously extracted knowledge?
Looking at it from this perspective, it’s clear that a quoting system really can help. Thinking further in that direction, we realise that a good system also speeds up the quoting process and makes collaboration with colleagues easier than ever before.
When we’re convinced that we need a quoting system, what are the components we have to think about? Well, we need templates. Different types of industries and different types of work or products need different types of templates. These templates should be amendable, able to reflect the latest insights and lessons learned.
Then, there are the qualified users pulling in a template. What do they see? Generally, it’s a challenging structure of chapters and paragraphs. Including text blocks that are often standard and already filled in. What should they do further? That’s not so difficult. Amend what needs amending and add anything that’s missing. Special attention is necessary for lists. There should be ample room for statements of work, product listings, proposed payment steps, covered service areas, price lists, etc. These lists can be prefilled, or open for filling. With simple “p x q” maths and summations. Efficiency can be enhanced further, by using variables, like @custname. They represent the single values, like payment terms, or the name of the customer.
After this efficient and high-quality content building process, it’s time for the document. The system generates this for you. In a closed form, like a PDF, or open to further adjustments in a Word document. Featuring electronic signatures, by you the sender, and of course, the receiver.
Now you’ve read this far, it’s clear why this area is referred to as CPQ, which stands for configure, price, quote.
Having followed all of the above steps, we’re now ready. It’s time for the system to publish the document and send it to the prospect. Storing it in the DMS and waiting for the customer response. The system can help monitor response times, as well as automatically providing the turnover estimates for the next financial period.
Last but certainly not least, a CPQ system has to add value to the fulfilment of a quote. After signing, a push of the button is sufficient to create the first purchase order(s). They can then be sent to the prospect that has now become a customer, by agreeing to the consultancy or the first order of products. Of course, where necessary, these POs feature eSigning too, sometimes in the simpler form of just initials. Internally, the agreed rates are derived from the quote, automatically feeding the rate module for application in the billing process. The work can be announced to team members and project managers automatically, because now the system knows all!
In our opinion, the continuing ordering process also forms part of CPQ. After the framework has been set, customers must be able to easily place orders, or agree ongoing consultancy work. All in the same structured way. To sum it up: CPQ, in the form of quoting and ordering, can greatly extend and improve your order-to-cash process.
About ICORP: ICORP is specialised in algorithm-based technology for Complex Billing®, credit management, efficient quoting and time management. When things get complicated we get excited.