The Proliferation of Workplace Collaboration Tools
It seems nowadays that there are as many workplace collaboration tools as there are workplaces! Every week it seems that a new platform springs up, and countless surveys over recent years have identified employees’ frustrations at being forced to use platforms that they find awkward, switch from one platform to another, or worse, have different team members using several platforms within certain teams.
Challenges in Standardizing Platforms
You can end up with the marketing department using HubSpot and the Finance team using Slack; this is especially problematic for people whose roles spread across both those departments and further afield. You wouldn’t think it difficult for a business to dictate ‘one platform to rule them all’, and throw the rest into the fires of Mount Doom, despite the protestations of employees from various teams across an enterprise.
Integration as a Solution
However, one advantage of using discrete platforms for certain tasks is that they can most often be integrated seamlessly into whatever Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that an organization is using. For example, a company might use Hubspot to coordinate all their marketing activities, and bolt on a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) platform to create a perfect Hubspot CPQ integration.
Understanding CPQ and Its Features
If integration is performed efficiently enough, a company might use Workast for internal comms and collaboration and the Hubspot / CPQ hybrid for all marketing and quotations. So, what exactly is a CPQ platform, and what are its salient features?
CPQ: Configure, Price, Quote
CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote. It’s nothing other than software which ensures that all the variable factors involved with creating a new quote for a product or service are considered. Once all those elements are taken into account, the CPQ platform then integrates with a CRM like Hubspot to ensure that the (sometimes prospective) customer is sent the correct quote, along with any contractual terms and conditions and legal niceties.
Importance of CPQ Illustrated
Let’s look at an example of how things can go astray if a CPQ system isn’t used. Imagine a company that makes seat covers for domestic furnishings. Let’s call them StretchOver Inc. Stretchover might receive a request for a proposal (RFP) from a sofa manufacturer in Sweden, whereby cushion covers of three different widths and lengths are required for three models of sofa to be launched by Sofas & Co.
The Role of CPQ in Complex Quotations
You’d think it would be quite straightforward for a manufacturing department to measure the cushions in question, work out the square meterage of fabric required, assess the amount of threading yarn, then calculate the labor costs involved for time to cut and stitch the covers. In fact, a simple spreadsheet formula could almost certainly achieve that calculation. Furthermore, when the costs had been worked out and profit margins and shipping costs applied, a final figure should be easy to send over to Sofas & Co. However, things can become a little more complicated when other variables are thrown into the mix.
CPQ's Rules-Based Architecture
A CPQ platform works on a rules-based architecture using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to assess the various (often complex) inter-relationships between compatibilities of components within any quotation ecosystem. The example of the fabric widths here would be that the CPQ would alert its operators to the unavailability of the new material in a given size and re-calculate the extra cutting and stitching costs. A spreadsheet package simply could not provide this facility without human intervention.
CPQ in Regulation-Heavy Industries
Furthermore, if something as simple as cloth and thread is involved, imagine the vast complexities when specifications might change within the aeronautical or automotive industries. In short, as long as the CPQ is programmed correctly at the outset with all the information required, the AI runs hundreds of checks within seconds to ensure that the quote being produced makes sense both financially and practically. This is especially important when dealing with manufacturing and human resources in regulation-heavy industries like food packaging or electrical consumer goods.
Seamless Distribution and Collaboration
Once the CPQ has determined the validity of a quote, ensuring that profit margins, discount for quantity and remittance terms are all satisfactory, the quote can be passed to Hubspot and / or distributed via a collaboration platform like Workast to ensure that all relevant team members are aware of exactly what is being sent to the prospective customer, along with a financial breakdown of costs.
The Key Role of Collaborative Tools
In the final analysis, collaborative tools are only as good as the people who use them; discipline and procedure are key, but at least you can be sure that the technology won’t fail.