Integration is a crucial part of every CPQ
CPQ or Configure Price Quote platforms simplify the sales process for manufacturers. A visual configurator allows users to compose products, consult accurate prices and generate a quote instantly. To implement a CPQ, you need master data about the products and the customers. This information can manually be entered, or it can seamlessly be pulled from other systems, using integrations. Integrations are therefore incredibly important in every CPQ project. Why is that and how can you connect these systems? Read on to find out!
A Configure Price Quote system in the sales process
Let’s start with a story from back in the old days about how a sales order had to go from desk to desk, from department to department before it could go into production, and it finally arrived at the customer’s doorstep. The sales representative would have to find the correct price in the price lists and manually create a quote for the customer, who would send it back signed. Then the order went through the back office, so it could be entered in the production and/or accounting system. Once the order had been verified, it went into production and the shipping department had to create a shipping notice and send out the goods to the end customer.
A sales process like this would be very time-consuming and error-prone and often lead to frustrations in production. Throughout the years, this flow has been digitalized to create more efficiency within companies. One of those digital solutions is a CPQ or Configure Price Quote system, that can be used by internal employees and by external parties such as customers, partners, installers, or distributors. A CPQ platform is the first system in the sales flow and collects all the information needed to process the order digitally.
However, a Configure Price Quote solution is not the only digital system that is being used in the sales process; Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms are for example also featured. It is therefore important that these systems can communicate with each other and that they can exchange data.
That’s why integrations are a crucial part of every CPQ implementation.
Why integrations are so important
To build configurators, a Configure Price Quote platform needs master data, that can be drawn from the ERP program (e.g., product information or stock levels) or from the Product Information Management (PIM) software (e.g., visualizations or descriptions for every product option).
Once the product configurators have been set up, customer data will need to be added to the CPQ as well. This can be pulled from the CRM, so that users can open their configurators through the CRM. An automatically generated quote will then be uploaded to both systems.
By connecting all these software systems with each other, you avoid having to manually enter data, which is a time-consuming and error-sensitive process. Using integrations, data always stays up-to-date and consistent. It simplifies the maintenance of the master data since you will only need to open one program to maintain information. Other systems will automatically update.
That’s how you create a more efficient and a completely automated sales process.
How can systems be connected to each other?
Integrations through plugins
There are different methods for building integrations. One of the ways to connect platforms is by using plugins. These are made specifically for connections to SaaS or Software as a Service solutions, such as Salesforce and Microsoft CRM or ERP software such as SAP and Microsoft Dynamics.
Building plugins is rather complex and requires solid programming knowledge. To reduce the workload for the integrator, CPQ platforms are usually equipped with standard integrations, providing a plug-and-play setup between the CPQ and other SaaS systems.
Integrations through webhooks
A second method for building connections between platforms is a combination of webhooks and a low-code platform (e.g., HiveConnect, Dell Boomi, MuleSoft and more).
A webhook is essentially a callback URL that is triggered by an event or a change within a SaaS app. Say that the address of a company is modified in the CRM, in that case a webhook will deploy this update through a low-code platform, ensuring that the CPQ solution will also be using the most recent address.
This method allows to build integrations with third party apps based on simple events.
Integrations through low-code platforms
Lastly, integrations can be built using low-code platforms, such as HiveConnect, Microsoft Power Automate or Dell Boomi. These systems connect webhooks or plugins with third party apps.
This method significantly reduces the workload, considering it uses standard integration patterns, that are perfectly understandable for the people involved in the integrations. It optimizes the communication between the IT department and the rest of the company.
The modern-day sales process is efficient and digitalized, thanks to a lot of online solutions. It is important that these systems can communicate and exchange data.
Integrations are therefore a crucial part of every CPQ implementation, to avoid data re-entry, errors, inconsistency, and a difficult maintenance of the master data. Integrations can be built using webhooks, plugins, or low-code platforms.
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