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Living tech debt-free with Salesforce CPQ

June 12, 2020By
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Addressing technical debt today will enable you to grow and innovate with Salesforce CPQ tomorrow

When you’re responsible for managing a complex Salesforce instance, new requests and requirements come frequently from all corners of the business. Over time, these ad hoc changes can accumulate as technical debt. You may be forced to divide your attention between putting out today’s fires and strategically planning for tomorrow’s goals.

When you’re implementing a configure, price, quote product like Salesforce CPQ, technical debt can present serious challenges.

Below, we’ve outlined some strategies that will enable you to remediate existing debt while sustainably scaling your instance and leveraging new functionality.

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Time to let go of redundancy

So, what is technical debt (tech debt)? The term refers to technical obstacles that prevent organizations from achieving business goals. They’re the result of past technology decisions, such as the decision to build functionality through hard code rather than declarative development.

Going into a Salesforce CPQ implementation, three key strategies can help you proactively detect and address tech debt.

1. Evaluate business process

Your core business processes constitute all the steps needed to achieve a particular goal. Business process is the foundation for any system, but especially CPQ. It’s imperative to evaluate today’s processes while accounting for the goals of tomorrow, to ensure Salesforce CPQ can grow alongside your business.

Here are a few key considerations to detect and manage tech debt in business process:

  • Ensure processes are well-defined and fully documented.
  • If your processes have grown or changed over time, ensure they still align with your business needs.
  • It should be possible (and easy) to track life-cycle stages and interactions with your customers.

2. Product rationalization

For most industries, product rationalization will yield positive benefits, and should be a core pillar of your CPQ implementation. Evaluating all supported SKUs in order to determine whether to support or discontinue products will ensure your system is free of redundancies. Here are a few key questions to consider:

  • How many SKUs do you currently support?
  • How do you capture the information needed to select, configure, price, discount, approve and output for every new product?
  • Do you have duplicates? How did they get there?
  • What (if any) is the hierarchy of your product structure?

3. Pricing rationalization

Similar to product rationalization, it’s important to evaluate all supported pricing models and pricing variations by SKU, then decide whether to discontinue or continue supporting each model or variation. Pricing rationalization can uncover redundancies and save hours of time. Get started with the following questions:

  • Are your pricing models documented? Are they up to date?
  • Are pricing models being created out of convenience or careful planning?
  • Are the right people in charge of adjusting or changing pricing?
  • How many pricing models do you support?
  • Do you have new or future models to incorporate?
  • Have you acquired any companies?

Sustaining your salesforce CPQ investment

Preventing the accumulation of tech debt will protect your investment in CPQ over the long-term, enabling you to scale the product alongside your business. Salesforce recommends building a strategy for both technical configuration and the processes affected by the configurations.

We see both sides of this coin every day in the ecosystem, and have seen a lot of effective strategies over the years. The two components we see as critical success factors are:

1) Governance model

2) Center of excellence (COE)

A governance model is a framework that regulates how your Salesforce instance will be configured and how changes to configuration will be managed. Governance helps prevent tech debt and redundancies by enforcing best practices, leading to better long-term decisions and system viability.

Your COE includes stakeholders representing relevant business units, and this group of people is tasked with understanding and supporting the needs of end-users. Ultimately, they are responsible for delivering complex initiatives and managing your governance model.

With both a defined governance model and an appointed representative business group for your center of excellence, you’ll have the blueprint needed to scale with CPQ and Salesforce in general. This one-two punch is vital to maintaining a healthy CPQ product that is free of costly tech debt.

Finding balance with the tick-tock model

Managing technical debt comes down to a balancing act between seeking efficiency and innovation through system changes, and optimizing existing processes through governance.

Intel had a similar way of thinking when they developed their Tick-Tock model for chip design.

The ‘Tick’ described their efforts to reduce the size of the chip and increase efficiency. This was always followed by a ‘Tock’, where Intel would refresh and optimize the new design. Cycling through ‘Ticks’ and ‘Tocks’ like the pendulum of a clock enabled Intel to maintain the long-term integrity of their product without stifling innovation.

Working with CPQ isn’t quite the same as designing computer chips, but the principle of balance still applies. Salesforce CPQ is a powerful product that will grow and innovate alongside your business, but that only comes when you’re able to maintain the health of your systems. It’s important to think about the requirements of every change, who it is intended to help, how it may affect others and what impact it may have on existing processes and parallel projects.

Tech debt resources

Looking for more information about tech debt prevention and remediation? You've come to the right place!

Upcoming virtual event: Salesforce Platform Planning & Optimizing

Join Traction on Demand, Salesforce, and other special guests for Salesforce Planning & Optimization on October 28, to learn how to future-proof your Salesforce investment. Over seven interactive sessions, you’ll hear from industry experts and peers about proactively managing tech debt, effective data governance and stewardship frameworks, and lead-to-cash best practices—ultimately, how to get the most value from your Salesforce investment.

Register now: Salesforce Planning & Optimization

Past webinar: Optimizing Salesforce to Drive Growth

Join Salesforce, Intercom and Traction on Demand for an informative workshop that will show you how to optimize your Salesforce instance, so you can leverage the latest innovations on the platform.

Watch the session here: Optimizing Salesforce to Drive Growth

Don't waste another tick

Let’s chat about your tech debt free future with Salesforce CPQ

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