Friday, 26 June 2015

Cloud Control – When More than One could be a Crowd!

Too many cloud applications can quickly lead us to the same level of complexity as managing multiple On-Premise applications.  Adding more cloud apps to your enterprise IT ecosystem may be too much of a good thing.

The CRM cloud application (It could be Salesforce, Oracle Sales Cloud, or MS Dynamics, etc) is normally at the centre of your solution. Typical challenges we see in maintaining these alongside multiple ‘edge’ cloud apps:

1.     Integrations and Data Migrations:  Many ‘edge’ cloud apps use a custom object for the same CRM entity (for example, a custom object to hold Account or Customer Information, Product Data, etc.. which are also present in the base CRM application.) 

There is a common need to “integrate” between the CRM object definition and the cloud app’s customer object definitions.  This approach increases integration and data migration costs and results in unnecessary replication of data.

2.     Upgrades:  Many cloud app vendors tout their frequent release cycles as a testament to their pace of innovation.  As a result,  there is the rising cost of incessant cycles of testing, releases, and user training.

3.     Environment cloning and migrations:  Each cloud app comes with its unique installation and migration procedures.  A strong system admin team is required to clone environments for Development, QA, UAT and Production.  Each application could have a different set of code and processes to be installed.

4.     Technology Stack to build the Cloud App:  Is it native, java, .Net, or another custom language?  Does the Cloud app include components (such as configurator or pricing engines) that are built using different languages or residing in a separate cloud?

5.     Process-related Data Migration: ‘Lead-to-Contract’ is one of the processes where data mapping needs to occur between many objects such as Lead to Opportunity, Opportunity to Quote, Quote to Order, Order to Contract, Asset to Quote, etc.  Custom workflows to enable the mappings and flows result in high implementation and maintenance costs.

Many of the cloud vendors have ignored these challenges, whilst a few are addressing these issues (and rightly so!).  So when you’re looking for a cloud solution ask the vendor if they have done the following:

1. Pre-built end-to-end, industry-specific CRM apps reducing the need to manage and maintain multiple cloud apps.

2. Focused at the outset on the integrations and data migrations, building adapters for most common on-premise applications.

3. Offer a ‘CRM’ object-first guarantee.  As a result, they would not replicate any objects released by the CRM vendor, either pre-existing or in the future.  In addition, their apps guarantee compatibility with the CRM native objects.

4. Provide tools to facilitate Process-centric data migration through declarative mapping between any objects in the CRM instance.


1. The marginal benefit of installing a new cloud app vis-à-vis the existing on-premise app requires careful consideration.  Keeping the on-premise application may not be a bad decision after all!.

2. Just because the edge app is built natively on the same platform as the CRM application doesn't mean there is no integration and data migration effort. 

3. Detailed understanding of the integrations involved.  The existence of some APIs is just table stakes; use of those APIs to integrate and load data is where heavy lifting is necessary.  Check for existence of tools and solutions to address these.

4. Check on the excessive use of custom objects to store data that is already stored in the CRM native object.

If you’d like to know more about which cloud vendors we think are taking the right approach then please get in touch

Visit us at:

Read More :

Thursday, 23 April 2015

From despair to delight - how improved UX can re-energise your users

Building physical networks is no easy task – Giving your customer an 100% accurate quote can be just as hard.

Designing networks or configuring data centres is complex, but for many companies the time it takes from designing the solution to getting the order completed can take weeks. 
That’s the ‘sales drag’ and it has a direct impact on your companies bottom line.

With Visual Configurator from CRMantra we can provide a simple and visual way for your sales reps to quickly build and quote for complex networks and services.

Key features:
  • Designed for advanced visual configurations
  • Works in conjunction with your existing CRM or CPQ system
  • Can be used with CRMantra’s sales and service process packs,
  • Can be embedded within your own customer, partner or internal portals
  • Web-based, responsive design – build network solutions in a drag and drop fashion on desktop or tablets.
  • Can provide CAD Drawings as the basis for installation
Take a look at our youtube video -

Visual Configurator can be used within our own guided selling solution (InterActCPQ) 
Built using Responsive Design principles, InterActCPQ provides a consistent experience across desktop and mobile devices.  
Reps won’t miss their spreadsheet once they start using InterActCPQ.  They’ll love closing their deals!

Key features

  • Process Templates to facilitate the navigation of the steps to close deals faster.
  • Scenario Builder to enable trade-offs between solution offerings, budgets, margins, sales commissions, etc.
  • Visual Configurator Designing your solution offering visually is as easy as building Lego!
Take a look at our youtube video -

Key Benefits
  • close deals faster
  • increase deal size with recommendations
  • radically reduce quotation time
  • give your customers a better buying experience
  • Accurate pricing every time

For more information please contact or visit

CPQ - It's never as easy as 1-2-3

I’ve see an increasing number of customers coming to us asking for a ‘CPQ’ solution and preferably in the ‘cloud’.
‘Can you recommend one?’, ‘Can you implement Apttus?,’, ‘What do you think of Big Machines?’, ‘Will Vlocity meet our needs?’
Typically it takes a short call to discover that what they really need is a solution to (take a deep breath)… take opportunities in their CRM system and convert them to Quotes, run a configurator to build a quote, run some pricing, add some discounts, email a quote, generate a proposal, get a signature, send an order to fulfillment and billing and update CRM… oh and don’t forget all those quotes against existing contracts, new contracts, order changes, updates to exiting assets and complex promotions, bundling and special pricing terms –and it’s got to work for internal sales, via a partner portal and for a consumers self service web site and all this for B2B and B2C customers and products..
That is a lot more than ‘CPQ’, that is a complex, multi-channel, end-to-end sales journey with a multitude of complex processes winding through it.
And this is where it fundamentally differs from SFA (Sales Force Automation) implementations. With a few tweaks SFA apps from Salesforce, Microsoft and Oracle can be implemented in a few weeks.
But a Sales Process – from Opportunities to Quotes, Orders to Assets and Contracts back to Quotes – is a very subjective process – every company has their own take on how that process should happen, what the steps are, who carries them out and what makes a step complete. It is the effectiveness and efficiency of these processes that make the difference between getting an order, or loosing it to a competitor.
The sheer number of possibilities means that some real hard graft has to be put into defining and designing those processes. There are no short cuts.
‘Go Buy Some Stuff’
For example, I was in a meeting recently and a person representing ‘The Business’ told the IT architects and designers that they just wanted a website with the same catalog/pricing/delivery functionality as their main competitor.   “Go and buy some stuff from them, try it out and build something the same”.   That is just lazy and a surefire way of starting a project doomed to fail.
After the initial stunned silence that person was quickly educated as to how a design process works and what the responsibilities of ‘The Business’ are! There are no shortcuts and there is always room to improve on a seemingly ‘perfect’ process – it may just give you that edge over the competition.
The Dash to the Cloud
What I have also seen is that the dash to the cloud has meant more apps in the mix. What was once provided as a large, megalithic system from Siebel, Oracle or SAP that had all the capability you might need is now provided by a multitude of niche software vendors, apps and add-ons.
Yes, that move to the cloud has improved the Operational side of the IT department, but it hasn’t done anything to help define, design and implement long running Quoting/CPQ processes that can span these numerous applications and departments.
Process mapping and process integration is key to providing the end user with a sales tool they can quickly understand, easily navigate and see the benefit of using.
 Just looking at a recent implementation of a Contract Management solution. We utilized a raft of applications (CRM, CPQ, Document Generation, eSignatures, Campaign Management, Outbound eMail and eMail response, Billing and Fulfillment) as well as an integration platform to hook it all together and orchestrate the process.
Come on, lets learn from our mistakes!
With so many pieces of the jigsaw needed just to provide a quoting/contract solution it is now critical to properly plan and map these process journeys – it’s no longer all in one application, so the “it’s in there somewhere – just need to find it” approach just does not work any longer.
And cloud projects can no longer be just about implementing application features and functions. It has to be about great process design, utilizing deep industry knowledge and best practices and finding the relevant domain expertise.   It took a while to get there for CRM on-premise projects with a few disasters along the way – we must learn these lessons and not repeat the same in the cloud – it gives the IT industry a bad name!

So to wrap up, CPQ isn’t about the cloud vs on-premise and it’s not like an SFA project. These can be complex projects and they will take time (and money) to implement properly…regardless of the platform.
So if you’re embarking on a ‘CPQ’ project, please feel free to add a comment below or get in touch if you think we may be able help.