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April 5th, 2022 (Updated 04/08/2022) | 13 min. read

Maggie Buckland
Managing Director at Big Data Pricing

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Migrating from Excel to Pricing Software 

You have made the decision to buy enterprise pricing software to support your large-scale business. Congratulations on joining the latest pricing industry trends and business solutions. You could invest $100,000 to millions only to have a tool that your team can’t or won’t use. In this article, we will describe the 5 mistakes to avoid when moving from Excel to enterprise pricing software. 

Working closely together, Pricefx and Big Data Pricing are focused on guiding their clients on strategic pricing as the most rapid and effective way to improve profits. As a member of our partner ecosystem, Big Data Pricing has completed the most successful Pricefx implementations in North America, efficiently and effectively and helped customers to move from Excel and other on-premises pricing solutions to flexible cloud solutions. 

So, let’s jump in and review the mistakes to avoid when migrating from Excel or other in-house legacy systems to an enterprise pricing software solution.  We will analyze why they happen, how to avoid them and what can happen if you slip up. 

The Top 5 Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Excel to Pricing Software Migration 

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Mistake 1 – Not Implementing a Strategy to Match the Capability of the Software 

It’s wonderful to finally have the best tools with all the bells and whistles implemented in your organization, including Price Optimization, Price Management, Price Analytics, Rebate Management, Channel Management, readily available at your fingertips. If you are not thinking strategically about how to use those tools in achieving your organization’s business goals, the tools may be worthless.  

Focusing on value you can achieve by using pricing software is critical. Remember, it’s not just a replacement for your Excel or Tableau spreadsheets, it can support a new way of pricing. 

Why Do Business Fail to Implement a Pricing Strategy? 

In many cases, businesses are so wrapped up in manually administering prices in Excel that they can’t see the forest from the trees.  

The legacy systems and associated ways that some companies have done business in the past has left them behind strategically. 

 

Manual updating of prices in Excel or Tableau too, took so much time to perform that many organizations simply didn’t have the time to make strategic price changes beyond a quarterly price increase across the entire product portfolio.

It takes an investment in people, process and tools to achieve the value and transformation that modern native cloud pricing software can bring.  

What Happens if You Don’t Implement a Pricing Strategy? 

When using modern pricing software to price rather than Excel, companies have a compelling opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors by learning how to create, quantify, communicate, and capture customer value by implementing new pricing strategies. 

The process of translating list prices into more profitable prices is achieved by putting those strategies into place. Fail to do it and you run the risk of leaving profit on the table, responding too slowly to win the business or pricing too high to compete. 

How To Avoid the Mistake of Not Implementing a Pricing Strategy 

Many businesses have been so focused on getting things done in Excel that they don’t have time to strategize on how to get optimal prices and value for their products.  

The renewed focus on pricing strategy should begin when the decision is made to upgrade to pricing software, not after.

 

It is pertinent to remember that pricing software is flexible and can adapt as your price strategy and journey evolves.

Focus on what you want to achieve from your pricing software before you begin the implementation project. Given the flexibility of the solution, it can evolve with strategy changes, business requirements changes, or market factors. 

Mistake 2 – Not Using Price Analytics to Drive Better business decisions 

Closely related to mistake number one, companies don’t always leverage the full power of the data and price analytics to help users make better decisions that align with the business strategy and market conditions.  

Companies that succeed at driving better decisions with analytics, build a strong foundation by including their sales team in the implementation with a focus on change management. 

Why Do Businesses Fail to Use Pricing Analytics to Its Full Capacity? 

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At the beginning, some businesses do not implement the full capability of pricing analytics as it’s too complex for them to adopt. For sales, spending extra time and effort to understand the practical use of analytics and the feeling that the new process takes longer than the current process in Excel or other in-house system, then adoption may suffer. 

Depending on the alignment of leaders in your organization, it may be difficult to mandate the use of pricing analytics, and your organization may end up with a pricing tool that no one onf your team wants to use. 

What Happens if You Don’t Use Pricing Analytics to Its Full Capacity? 

Failure to use pricing software will deny business organizations the ability to considerably improve profitability and market share by defining optimal prices and pricing strategies. 

If you’re not using the power of pricing analytics you may fail to identify revenue and margin opportunities, close pricing gaps and limit your ability to better align prices or resolve margin leakages. 

By failing to use pricing analytics capabilities, you will limit the operational efficiencies the technology provides in addition to missing the opportunity key stakeholders aligned with your overall pricing strategy.  

How To Avoid the Mistake of Not Using Pricing Analytics to Its Full Capacity 

Having a strong project sponsor and decision maker in your organization to lead your pricing analytics project is critical to drive adoption in your business. 

If your pricing team believes that pricing analytics is critical to improve pricing and the sales team does not, a strong leader can help to drive the transformation in the organization.  

Clear examples provided to your salespeople on how pricing analytics can support strategic price changes and support customer negotiations will help in the adoption of the pricing software.  To drive better pricing and margin decisions, Sales need one to two key metrics that are easy to consume and imbedded in their quoting and negotiation process.  

Working together with a strategic implementation partner that can share ideas and best practices on how other businesses have solved a similar issue will also help with adoption, process effectiveness and process efficiency. 

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Mistake 3 – Salespeople’s Expectations About Price Analytics 

Pricing Analytics can be powerful and insightful stuff, however, it’s not a magic wand. Occasionally, salespeople hear the words ‘pricing analytics’ or ‘data analytics’ and expect too much. The expectation is that because its Next-Generation science, it will know your competitor’s prices and be able to recommend the right price. Salespeople will have guidance but will still need to use their tribal knowledge and market insights to make the best decisions for the company and the customer. 

Why Do Salespeople Think Pricing Analytics Can Do Everything? 

Pricing analytics can do a lot. Driving better business outcomes are at the core of modern pricing, margin maximization and trade spend effectiveness. Pricing analytics software can handle massive data sets, churning through a large set of variables and transactions. These applications can analyze unstructured data and process real-time updates to that information. They can also perform exploratory analysis—without having an outcome in mind—to find relevant patterns, trends, and anomalies in the data. 

Having the outcome in mind is the critical piece to the puzzle. Salespeople must understand how the guidance was derived, have compensation aligned with the guidance and be able to use the pricing analytics to follow the overall pricing strategy.  

While knowing how many Red Toyota RAV4 SUVs were sold in Harris County in Texas to blue-eyed blonde women over the age of 40 for the first 6 months of 2021 might be interesting information to know, it may or may not be important if you are developing a U.S. or global pricing strategy. 

What Will Happen If Your Salespeople Have The Wrong Expectations About Pricing Analytics? 

It is great that your team is excited by pricing analytics and interested in what it can do, price analytics will supplement – not replace – sales experience, customer experience and market dynamics. 

Salespeople should participate in the implementation project and should see real-world examples of what the technology will enable so that they can provide feedback along of the way and have a better understanding of what will be provided. For example, if you are a beverage manufacturing company, explain to your salespeople that pricing analytics: 

  • Can provide a rearview looking into what has happened, providing analytics to support questions such as: “How are my drink prices trending over the last 12 months?” including Descriptive Analytics 
  • Can provide insights based on modeling with forecasting techniques to understand the future.  An examples is: “What should my drinks prices be in the next 3 months given supply chain constraints and inflations to maintain margin neutrality?” supported by Predictive Analytics.  
  • Use the Prescriptive Analytics of price optimization algorithms to advise on outcomes and answer: “What should we do to optimize drink prices?”

Mistake 4 – Focusing on Exceptions 

Focusing on business strategy and expected outcomes will be key to the pricing software project’s success. It is easy to lose focus of the critical business scenarios and instead focus on exceptions.  Focusing on exceptions will extend the length of your project and threaten the success of your transition from Excel to a more efficient and effective process in your pricing software. 

Why Do Businesses Sometimes Focus on Exceptions & What Can Happen? 

Most businesses are switching over from Excel or their previous legacy system to pricing software to gain capabilities, insights and efficiencies they haven’t had in the past. Pricing professionals understand the capabilities of pricing software and are excited to leverage its power where they can. 

However, if organizations try to accommodate every exception into their pricing software, it may potentially do more harm than good.  Exceptions often take more time to configure and a business process change or negotiation with the customer can simplify or resolve the exception.  

How To Avoid the Mistake of Focusing on Exceptions

Maintaining focus on the business case and the objectives you defined for the project are key to delivering a successful pricing software project. 

Exceptions are painful to administer and people remember the pain, which can affect their ability to simplify and standardize business processes.  It is critical to have an ‘Ultimate Decision Maker’ – who can say ‘no’ when the team gets off track. That person should refocus the team, review the objectives and focus the team on what they will gain with the new tool. The goals and value will drive the project success. If exceptions are the focus, projects will take significantly longer than they need to.  Building ‘exceptions functionality’ into the system will extend the project and will only be used in a limited capacity.  By creating standard templates for customer offers, negotiations and rebate agreements, the exceptions can be limited before needing to solve for them in the tool. 

Mistake 5 – Underestimating the Change Management Component 

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The final mistake to avoid when migrating from Excel to pricing software is underestimating the level of change management involved in the process. Depending on the nature of your business, the transformation may be easy if your business is used to change and is comfortable with it. On the other hand, if your organization has a more difficult time with change and has been using the current process for an extended period of time; the transition can prove to be a challenging hurdle for your company. 

Why Do Business Sometimes Underestimate the Change Management Involved & What Can Happen? 

Primarily, the major reason that many businesses underestimate the level of change to manage is that many groups within the organization are impacted or play a role in pricing. The transformation will require different tools and approaches for different team members, require time and effective communication and will be effective only if key team members are part of the process from the beginning 

Change considerations include; 

  • Does your team have the skills to maximize the use of the pricing software? 
  • Is the go-forward strategy clearly defined and communicated to the entire organization? 
  • Are key resources part of the project team and providing feedback on what they need and how easy the tool is to understand?  
  • Do they understand the objectives of the project and business strategy and feel that they are part of the change process?  
  • Do users believe in the data and does it need to be cleaned as part of the pricing software implementation? 

The list is endless and depends on your organization. 

How To Avoid the Mistake of Underestimating the Level of Change Management Involved

Taking specific steps to focus on supporting the change in your organization is critical. Depending on your company structure and the pricing maturity of your business, understanding the functional groups objectives, compensation and concerns is key to aligning the team and to driving a successful transformation. Pricing can be the responsibility of marketing, sales and finance – wherever it touches in your business – involve and allow them to be part of the ownership of the migration from Excel. 

At the end of the day, the more support you have across your organization, the higher change of success. Thinking strategically about who is involved in the migration and those who will benefit from the change the most will ease the transition. For example, if you can get your Excel spreadsheet pricing ‘historian’ onboard with the change to modern pricing software, that person can bring other employees (who may be resistant to change) along with them. 

The ‘Ultimate Decision Maker’ and key business leaders must be supportive, consistent about objectives and have the ability to guide the team through the transition. 

Now I Know the Mistakes to Avoid – What’s Next? 

Now that we have shared the mistakes to watch out for when migrating from Excel to pricing software, you should be able to focus on the next step in the process. 

Prior to starting your project, you should focus on the availability of data to support your processes and the cleanliness of that data.  Do you have a clean set of data? Is it supplied from what you know to be the single source of truth? At Pricefx and Big Data Pricing, we’ve learned from experience that understanding your data, knowing where your data resides and ability quickly upload into your pricing software is a key factor to securing a fast time to value. 

Check out our recent article on the data you’ll need to make the transition to pricing software now: 

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