This blog was authored by Colin Masson, Director, Manufacturing Industry Solutions, Microsoft Cloud & Enterprise Group
As the use of cloud and digital technologies grow in the manufacturing industry, they are transforming how companies conduct their entire sales process, from generating quotes to final invoicing. Over the coming months, we'll be blogging about some of the groundbreaking ways that Microsoft and partner technologies are transforming manufacturing sales. Today's blog post features Apttus, a Microsoft partner helping manufacturers use cloud technology to dramatically improve the efficacy and efficiency of their sales process.
Today vs. Tomorrow: Getting to Quote-to-Cash with an end-to-end solution
Traditionally, business systems involved in the quote-to-cash process have been sprawled across multiple departments. With each department relying on disparate point solutions responsible for processes from product configuration to invoicing, ensuring continuity from start to finish has always been key. However, because of such separation it was common for one section of the quote-to-cash process to slow or even grind to a full stop, blocking progress in other areas of the revenue team. This results in missed deadlines, deal slippage, and lost revenue.
If they want to increase revenue, manufacturing firms first need to tear down information silos and eliminate bottlenecks in order to deliver the business outcomes they desire. Apttus Quote-to-Cash unites Configure-Price-Quote, Contract Management, and Revenue Management processes into a single, end-to-end solution for businesses, enabling change in how things work today to transform your business for tomorrow. Let's break down each of these steps individually, and see how the Apttus solution enhances and unifies the entire quote-to-cash process.
Configure-Price-Quote: Providing sales teams with accurate product and pricing information
Today: With more offerings and highly customized services, it's more difficult than ever to manage pricing. Especially since the right price can depend on several variables, including competitor prices, customer discounts and rebates. With so many factors to consider, salespeople don't have an accurate picture of product and pricing information - which drags out the quote process and prevents them from getting proposals out as soon as possible.
Tomorrow: With a CPQ (Configure Price Quote) solution, you can get potential customers accurate and complete proposals, regardless of the complexity of bundling rules or the size of your product catalog.
This makes it easy to put together complex assemblies and sub-assemblies, and makes it easy to see what discounts have been offered in the past for more competitive and relevant pricing. The solution arms sellers with up-to-date information, so they can deliver accurate sales proposals more quickly — and ultimately close more deals. The application also automatically enforces pricing rules to help prevent inappropriate discounting and ensure that every deal is profitable.
Contract Management: Ensuring legal resources are used effectively
Today: Contract management is often disorganized, with no parameters in place to create consistent, up-to-date contracts. Files may be stored anywhere, from a file cabinet to a local server. Depending on the size of the contract, representatives from legal, the executive office, other internal teams, and the customer all need to be brought in to approve and sign. And since legal teams need to be involved in the creation of every single contract, working with their limited time and resources presents a huge challenge. Then, once contracts are enacted, they may be difficult to find, amend, or check for signs of noncompliance. Often, end dates pass unnoticed, along with countless dollars in lost revenue from letting contracts lapse or potential renewals pass by.
Tomorrow: True contract compliance ensures employees can find any contract at any time for better visibility into your agreements. Armed with an integrated Quote-to-Cash process, you can better enable your sales and legal teams to generate, negotiate, and store any related legal documents such as NDAs in a secured cloud repository. A comprehensive and integrated Contract Management application ensures that deal terms can be created quickly to speed up time-to-quote. In fact, organizations report as much as a 25% increase in contract processing volume and an 11% increase in quote volume. And finally, once your deal documents are signed, a cloud-based Contract Management system ensures your company has total visibility to every step of the negotiation process — guaranteeing that all the company's new obligations are tracked correctly.
Revenue Management: Capturing key revenue opportunities
Today: Revenue management is a broad process, covering everything that occurs after a contract is signed: invoicing, billing, order management, rebate programs and revenue recognition. Many companies rely on their ERP systems to track and store this data — but lack the flexibility to sync changes from the front-end. Revenue management is critical for supporting multiple billing models, eliminating account errors, and tracking contract details to keep an accurate record of the value your company has earned from deals.
Tomorrow: Forward-looking companies are taking revenue management out of ERP to coordinate across legal, finance, and operational systems and teams. You need a solution that ensures critical back-office functions work in sync, accommodating last-minute changes that customers make, and updates to actual product and service delivery. A front office Revenue Management application reduces the risk of errors in an ongoing customer relationship, and guarantees that the business captures revenue opportunities — such as renewals — that otherwise may pass undetected. For instance, finance departments can automatically acquire over 80% of needed data for billing functions from the Configure-Price-Quote and Contract Management applications, leading to more efficient invoicing. By referencing contracts, expiration dates and "saved favorites" of product bundles, you can be more effective in renewing and growing recurring business. Prior to using Quote-to-Cash, one Apttus customer had been losing 1-2 points of renewal revenue — approximately $100 million each year — because they didn't enforce increase clauses. This customer isn't alone: Organizations that take a holistic approach to quote-to-cash report on average a 7% increase in sales revenues. Integrating your quote-to-cash processes enables you to capture key revenue opportunities you may not even be aware of.
Apttus Quote-to-Cash helps transform your business for tomorrow
Apttus Quote-to-Cash can dramatically improve communications and collaboration among staff and partners. Notifications and workflows keep all stakeholders informed across the company and even externally in partner networks. Immediate access to all needed data, records, and documents helps stakeholders do their jobs. Thanks to Quote-to-Cash, many data entry tasks and manual steps are eliminated with automation and integration, raising personal productivity.
Organizations that focus on quote-to-cash processes report a 28% improvement in quote quality and a 31% increase in contract accuracy. Apttus Quote-to-Cash enables you to connect the dots from quote to invoice and manage the entire revenue process in one place.
Try it out
Use Apttus Quote-to-Cash to sell more intelligently, get ahead of competitors, and raise your performance in the marketplace. Apttus is recognized as an industry leader by multiple analyst reports, including earning the top score in current offering and market presence in a recent Forrester Wave report. Try the Quote-to-Cash for Manufacturing solution for yourself on Microsoft AppSource today.
Learn how Apttus Quote-to-Cash can help you to grow your business at a Microsoft Digital Transformation webinar. Register for the Quote-to-Cash Solutions with Apttus & Dynamics 365 webinar now.
 Satmetrix Quote to Cash Impact Study, 2016
 John Bruno, Stephen Powers, and Chad Rafferty, "The Forrester Wave™:Configure-Price-Quote Solutions, Q1 2017", Forrester, February 7, 2017.