I just read a great article which provided a very accurate and consise summary of issues to consider when planning a CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote) solution. The article was written by Mark Bishop and shared by Shane Lay, both from CloudSense.
“CPQ – 7 Ways to Get it Right” http://digitalmarketingmagazine.co.uk/digital-marketing-features/cpq-7-ways-to-get-it-right/
At Hurricane Electric, we recently launched our Channel Partners Program, to allow outside agents to sell our services. From our early discussions with agents, we knew our program should provide several critical elements, including lead registration and the ability to quickly generate pricing and quotes.
As we shopped around for solutions, we found a number of software solutions that seemed promising, but nearly all were cloud-hosted SaaS (software-as-a-service) solutions, requiring that we make our most critical data available to the solution provider. We weren’t willing to share our critical customer data this way.
We were willing to consider a SaaS solution for the CPQ component, so we next looked for solutions which might integrate with an in-house lead-registration system, and found no satisfactory options that seemed affordable during the first few quarters of our new channel program.
So our team set to work on “rolling our own” solution, to allow agents to query against our existing data to identify conflicts and opportunities, register leads, and generate quotes and contracts. Even for our skilled team, it was certainly a non-trivial task, but we managed to produce a solution we think will be adequate.
We still expect that we’ll migrate eventually to a more robust solution, such as the SalesStream/MasterStream product (which we know is already used by some of the agents whom we hope will participate in our channel program). That will require another programming adventure to create an API for the lead-registration process, so our complete customer data remains secure on our servers, and only agent data is stored with the provider.