So, how exactly do you automate the idea-to-cash process?
There are several tools that can help you with this: CRM, CPQ, and ERP solutions.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A CRM system keeps track of your relationships with your customers. It helps you manage the most up-to-date contact information and past sales information. It also helps you with marketing, sales, and customer service with those clients.
CRM software fits into the process by ensuring you have all the relevant data when it comes to signing contracts, billing, collecting as well as the post-sales analysis and marketing side of the idea-to-cash process.
Configure Price Quote (CPQ)
Your CPQ solution is used to create a custom-designed product. With CPQ software, the customer either contacts a salesperson who enters the specifications of the product into the system or (if you have an online store) they can enter the information into the software themselves from your website.
Then, the software determines if the product can be made according to those specifications and generates a Bill of Materials (BOM). At this point, the CPQ software determines how much the product will cost to make and can be programmed with pre-set profit margins to determine how much you should charge for the product.
The next step in the process is to generate a quote that is sent to the client for approval. When it comes back as approved, the project can move forward on the production line and can even generate a professional contract for the client to sign.
All of this is done much more efficiently than it has been in the past removing lots of back-and-forth between sales, engineering, and production. As a result, all of these departments can work more efficiently in their jobs.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
An ERP system maintains your item inventory in real-time, so your various departments have the best data in making decisions. One way this fits into the idea-to-cash platform is by keeping constant accounting of your internal inventory.
If a customer orders a configured product and the CPQ system creates a bill of material for that product, your ERP tracks your on-hand item inventory, how many need to be manufactured, and how many need to be ordered from an outside vendor. This helps to keep the entire process moving smoothly with little to no interruption.