5 crucial tips for a successful quote-to-cash process using Salesforce

Creating a platform for sustainable, long-term growth

Jun 12, 2024

Key takeaways

Salesforce quote-to-cash transformations are complex but can yield significant benefits.

With processes aligned, companies can streamline operations and strengthen financial performance. 

Addressing critical strategy and process challenges can provide short- and long-term results.

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Implementing an effective Salesforce quote-to-cash (QTC) system is a complex endeavour that spans multiple business silos, including front-office, middle-office and back-office operations. The success rate of QTC transformations is significantly higher when the business strategy and processes are thoroughly evaluated and aligned with the design before any system build begins. These five tips have helped many organizations develop a strong plan to drive QTC success while decreasing rework and technical debt.

1. Avoid the siloed approach

Jumping in and rearchitecting each division or system one by one may seem like the fastest approach to getting started. However, a siloed approach to QTC can lead to a host of issues, including downstream inefficiencies, incorrect data, non-compliance, technical risks and the need for eventual rework. To mitigate these risks, it is imperative to have co-ordinated best practices and experience across all QTC processes. This includes best practices and experiences in sales, operations, finance, billing and ASC 606 compliance. While it’s difficult to see through the complexity, you need to evaluate the big picture first to increase your chance of success.

2. Undertake an honest readiness assessment

A readiness assessment, even informal, is essential before embarking on a QTC digital transformation effort. This assessment should cover all aspects of your organization, including people, processes, technology and data. Do you have the right employees with skills to design across silos, and are they available to own and drive the initiative? Do you have a clear road map to guide the transformation journey and help avoid common pitfalls and rework? Where are the most important gaps, and how can you address them?

3. Streamline the business to improve technology

Before diving into a QTC implementation, ensuring the inputs to the process are optimized can provide many benefits downstream. A simple process improvement can greatly simplify the technology solution—conversely, an unwise process requirement can result in significant technical complexity and risks that require attention. Where possible, address business issues first to save time and complexity in the long run. For example:

Sales process optimization: Establishing a target operating model and a streamlined sales process will be crucial. These foundational steps ensure that the technology implementation supports the business in the easiest way possible rather than a complex solution with technical debt that will hamper future growth.

Catalogue rationalization: Similarly, rationalizing the product catalogue is often a necessary pre-cursor to implementing the configure, price, quote (CPQ) process. A well-organized and accurate product catalogue is the backbone of any CPQ system, enabling accurate quotes and efficient sales processes.

Chart of accounts redesign: The chart of accounts may also need to be redesigned in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This step is vital for maintaining accurate financial records and ensuring compliance with various accounting standards.

4. Design the whole before starting the build

A robust QTC architecture encompasses a wide array of connected systems, including customer relationship management, partner relationship management, CPQ, contract life cycle management, ERP, billing, payments, revenue recognition, customer support, field service management, middleware and business intelligence. A proper QTC design approach requires a cross-application, multidisciplinary skill set to make each workstream as successful as possible in addressing the siloed needs and the interdependencies of systems and data across other systems. 

5. Establishing a single source of truth

Data management is one of the most critical aspects of a QTC project. Establishing a source of truth for essential data points like customers and contracts across all systems is paramount. Without this, organizations risk significant data integrity issues that can halt operations. A well-structured and accurate master data management process is the cornerstone of this effort, providing an accurate, trustworthy, 360-degree view of the customer. This transparency and insight can then scale as applications and features are added as the business grows.

The short- and long-term benefits of a well-designed and executed QTC process

For most organizations, aligning the opportunity-to-quote-to-order-to-invoice-to-revenue recognition schedules is a game changer. It unlocks a plethora of benefits that streamline operations and enhance financial performance, including: 

  • Automation across systems: By automating processes across systems, you can eliminate the need for manual data entry or "swivel chairing," which is time-consuming and prone to errors.
  • Faster and more accurate quoting: With everything in alignment—pricing, discounting, terms and conditions, approval chains—quoting becomes a swift and precise process that enables you to respond to prospects faster and close more deals.
  • Efficient term changes: By successfully aligning key processes, amendments, co-terminations, upgrades, swaps, add-ons, downgrades, cancellations, renewals and extensions can be managed with less manual effort, leading to faster and more accurate modifications.
  • Accelerated payment cycles: Clearer invoices that align with the quote, order/contract, and correct information lead to faster payments.
  • Easier compliance: Considering compliance earlier in the customer life cycle significantly simplifies adherence to regulatory standards such as ASC 606. 

Harmonizing strategy, process, application flows and data are essential to creating the minimum conditions for a successful QTC initiative. While every organization’s situation is different, many common patterns occur in growing companies. By addressing these critical areas, your organization can ensure that your Salesforce QTC projects are not only successful in the short term but also serve as a platform for sustainable and efficient growth in the long run.

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