Before our customers start their project implementation with our Merlin CPQ solution, they can implement a concept project with us. We will now hear Sebastian Knaupp from the CAS Merlin consulting team explain the process and benefits of such a concept project.
1. How can concept projects benefit the successful implementation of CPQ projects from the start?
"Through the concept projects, our customers learn more about us as partners and our CPQ solution - they gain a clear idea of the implementation potential of their requirements and the entailed expenses. Thereby, our customers are well-informed and equipped with a solid decision basis. During the concept projects, we learn all about their problems and requirements. Together, we develop the basis for a custom-fit CPQ solution. The CPQ prototype we develop together is an additional benefit. Before the project has even started, the internal sales employees can test the software. The entire project becomes more tangible, and our customers receive assurances about the future project progression. We optimally prepare the project phase together with the customer."
2. What does the process of such a concept project look like?
"The concept project starts with a kickoff event during which we analyze the customer's challenges and define the agenda for the following weeks. The next step is to create a project plan in agile collaboration. Every two weeks, we present and discuss the interim results.
In its entirety, a concept project usually takes between two or three months. During this period, we develop the project-specific customizations and discuss various approaches. Sometimes, we then take an entirely different path than previously expected - a better path which is the result of a collaborative effort.
The result: our customer ultimately receives a finished concept with defined customizations, an interface description, and concrete cost estimates.What's more, they receive the fully developed CPQ prototype in which a slim version of the customer's product landscape is modeled.“
3. With which concrete contents are the concept projects concerned?
"Our concept projects are based on three pillars. Depending on the customer requirements, the different pillars are utilized with different intensities. However, we absolutely recommend developing pillars one and two.
In pillar 1, the structure pillar, we take a look at the set of rules and model the customer's product structure. In the process, we analyze in detail how to best model the products and variants in the configurator.
In pillar 2, the IT pillar, we examine and analyze the processes and determine which interfaces are required for which third-party systems. We gather insights on how to best integrate the systems and which project-specific customizations of the configurator are required.
In the last pillar, the User Experience pillar, we develop the Look and Feel of the user interface for the sales department. Does the customer want to integrate their Corporate Design? Which elements need to be embedded to create an appealing and intuitive interface? Do you want to integrate an online configurator into the company website?"
4. Who of the customer's employees should take part in the concept project?
"We recommend establishing a core team that consists of about 2-3 persons. On the one hand, it is useful to have a contact person in the team who is very familiar with the quote process. On the other hand, you need to involve, for example, a product manager who knows the product structures and knows how they can be modeled best in the CPQ solution. Extensive know-how of the product variants is essential here. And don't forget about the key user - the person who is supposed to use the application in their daily work. One the one hand, they are important for the internal acceptance of the new CPQ solution, and, on the other hand, can provide valuable feedback."
5. How can we then utilize the results of the concept project?
"The results provide ideal conditions for the successful start of the project phase. The prototype will now be developed further step by step and thus represents the basis for the entire CPQ solution. The interface description, the concept for the data structure, and the process knowledge all affect the implementation. Both we, as a partner, and our customers have a detailed overview of the collaborative project."