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Professional Services Automation

Quote-to-Cash vs CPQ: Explained

When and why is it valuable for your services organization

Published By Greg Davidson

A services company’s quote-to-cash process represents its ability to convert sales opportunities into paying and profitable customers. In order to implement the right quote-to-cash solution, services organizations must compare quote-to-cash vs cpq to determine the best tool that fits their needs.

A reliable services quote-to-cash process is vital to a company’s successful bottom line. However, current software tools that aim to aid in the quote-to-cash process do not provide an automated stakeholder communication and approval process; instead, companies must take onerous extra steps to fully integrate these tools.

Services organizations require a structured and optimized quote-to-cash process to determine whether an engagement is profitable

New tools, known as CPQ (Configuration, Pricing and Quoting), aim to improve quoting effectiveness and accuracy by combining the processes of quoting and estimating, which helps bond the sales cycle and the delivery cycle. 

CPQ tools help move estimating from “art” to “science,” dramatically affecting service businesses’ ability to provide accurate estimates, improving customer satisfaction and long-term revenue.  

To take advantage of the benefits CPQ offers, it is important to understand what it is and when it should be used. In this post, we answer four vital questions to explain how CPQ can be valuable for your quote-to-cash solution: 

  • What is quote to cash?  
  • What is CPQ?   
  • What are the main differences between quote-to-cash and CPQ?  
  • How can you find the right quote-to-cash solution for your business?  

What is Quote to Cash?  

Quote-to-cash is the end-to-end sales process, starting with a customer intending to buy and ending with the customer paying for the product. It includes several integrated activities, including pricing, quoting, negotiating, contracting, and billing.  

An effective quote-to-cash process allows service-based organizations to plan accurately and efficiently, project, schedule and execute against billable contracts. It also ensures that each sale is accurately priced, quoted and executed to ensure financial success. 

When that happens, stakeholders across the sales and services organizations can perform their jobs better, achieving, tracking, and improving services delivery efficiency and financial outcomes.  

Services organizations that lack a structured and optimized quote-to-cash process are forced to guess rather than clearly know if an engagement is profitable, and whether expected margins are realized. No service leader wants to be surprised by finding out that what was believed to be a lucrative engagement turned out to be unprofitable. 

What Is CPQ? 

CPQ is a sales-oriented tool that is focused on product-specific configuration, pricing and quoting to provide a faster, more controlled way to supply sales quotes with fewer errors and greater accuracy. It is designed to ensure accuracy in forecasting and eliminate confusion in the process of selecting products to prepare a customer quote.  

Service-based organizations that have sophisticated, complex and robust product (tied to Services, or Services themselves) segmentation can benefit from CPQ tools. These tools  help define and control the product or service offering based on customer needs.

With artificial intelligence, CPQ tools understand an organization’s capabilities and costs, and can eliminate back-and-forth conversations between sales, engineering, and production to provide a quick and accurate customized quote. 

However, service-based organizations that do not provide complex or customized products or services may not need to use CPQ tools to improve their quote-to-cash process.  

What Are the Differences Between Quote-to-Cash vs CPQ? 

Quote to cash and CPQ may be connected, but they are not the same thing. The quote-to-cash process is always an important part of a service organization’s business, and for some organizations, CPQ can be a valuable addition to that process. However, CPQ is not necessary for all quotes in all service organizations.  

A quote-to-cash solution usually integrates sales software with a customer relationship management software, helping to manage sales opportunities. CPQ, on the other hand, focuses on the sales process and is designed to help salespeople provide customers with more accurate quotes.

It works like an effective add-on to the customer relationship management solution, providing salespeople with a more thorough toolset that lets them better configure, price, and quote customized products and services to their customers.  

When comparing quote-to-cash vs cpq, it is important to consider the central challenges within your organization

A CPQ solution connects salespeople and service delivery stakeholders during the sales process. Through that connection, the organization can provide more accurate pricing and quoting on services-based work. As a result, the team enjoys better transparency and accuracy in service estimates and in resourcing requirements, allowing them to optimize margins and maintain and improve delivery timelines, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.  

How Can You Find the Right Quote-to-Cash Solution for Your Business?  

The right quote-to-cash solution will depend on your organization’s specific needs. In most service organizations, a centralized platform that will unify workers and their job responsibilities to streamline the quote-to-cash process and optimize revenue generation can be game changing.  

When comparing quote-to-cash vs cpq, it is important to consider the central challenges within your organization and (based on the information above) make a decision based on the needs and whether one or the other is better suited for your business.

Professional service automation (PSA) software can help organizations manage the quote-to-cash process by centralizing key people and processes and establishing full visibility to drive decision making. The right software will include the features your organization needs, whether that includes a CPQ tool or more general quote-to-cash capabilities.  

Conclusion  

An effective quote-to-cash solution is a powerful tool for any service-based organization, and an additional CPQ tool can make it even more valuable for those offering more customized products and services. Implementing the quote-to-cash solution that works for your organization can help improve the entire sales and service delivery process, boosting productivity and the bottom line. 

Looking for more insights on services automation and professional service automation solutions? 

Contact us to discuss how Planview can help make your organization’s engagements more predictable and profitable. 

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Greg Davidson Written by Greg Davidson Sr Product Professional

Greg has been managing the Changepoint Product Management roadmap and strategy for the last 18 years, working as both a SME and Consultant for Planview's Professional Services Automation Solution, partnering with GTM teams and customers in pursuing their desired business outcomes for critical success. Greg's professional career includes management capacity roles in IT, Digital Location Mapping, and Digital Print technologies industries