Any expert will tell you one of the most critical parts of a software product implementation is the launch. If the rollout goes smoothly, your company will avoid many potential problems in the weeks and months that follow.
Here’s our list of best practices enabling a manufacturing company to launch a CPQ system effectively:
1. Understand Your Needs
The first thing you want to establish is what your company needs from this software. Have a meeting with the software provider, list exactly what your business does and how you’re currently generating quotes for your customers.
Have them walk you through what the software can do for your company. Ultimately, you need to know three things:
- Your current process for creating quotes of custom products
- The types of customization options your customers are currently looking for
- Customization options you are looking to add in the future
2. Create Buy-In
Once you make the decision to go with a CPQ software platform, you need to generate buy-in from your employees. Show staff how this new system will streamline the existing process, helping them and the company. There may be a learning curve as employees adjust to the software. Emphasize the benefits for them as they can enjoy the clarity and efficiency CPQ software provides to stay more competitive and grow.
3. Craft Your Plan
Next, it’s important to craft an implementation plan for your business. This needs to be a joint operation. You’re the expert when it comes to your business. But the software company is the expert when it comes to CPQ.
Ideally, there should be a transition team made up of your employees and theirs. Don’t overfill the team, though. The old adage, “too many cooks spoil the broth” applies here. Keep it small and focused.
4. Anticipate Problems
One part of the planning process should be to brainstorm potential problems which can occur with the implementation. Here, again, the software team should be able to use their expertise to help with this. But, ultimately, you know best about what could go wrong with your business.
Ensure your production engineers are sitting in on this brainstorming session so they can suggest parameters for the customization. They can assert where the line should be drawn between what can and what cannot be physically done with your product. These parameters can then be built in to safeguard your orders so quotes are generated just for products which you can manufacture.
It’s better to anticipate problems and handle them before the implementation begins than to be blindsided later on and try to handle them in the midst of the roll-out.
5. Train Your Staff
Next up, an extensive training for all your staff. It’s not enough for just the sales staff to understand how this software will work. The training should include all engineers and the production staff on the floor so everyone knows how this new program will impact the work they do. You want everybody ready to go for the launch of the program so there will be no missing pieces on the staff side of implementation.
6. Stick to Your Plan
Once you get into the implementation stage, there may be a sudden desire to panic and want to radically alter your plan. Don’t do it! The plan has been put in place for a reason. If there are any problems which aren’t immediately addressed, take note of it and address at a later point.
7. Lean on the Software Company
If we haven’t said this enough already, it bears repeating, you should use your software company and their support team at all stages of the implementation. These are experts who have already implemented this application with other companies. They will be well-prepared to handle any problems which occur in the implementation process.
After you’ve finished the roll-out, take some time to reassess what happened. What went well? What could have gone better? The implementation team should meet again to address any concerns which were documented during the actual launch. In order to move forward, you need to assess where you are for later growth.
9. Celebrate Your Success
Finally, reward everyone who has been a part of this launch. A new software application is a major undertaking for a company. Take time to celebrate with all of your staff so they know their hard work is appreciated.
In order to have a successful launch of your CPQ software, you need to ensure you have everyone working together. Cohesiveness is a must for any new undertaking, especially with this type of roll-out. If you can attain this sense of unity in your staff, you’re well on your way to a smooth launch.