Did you know that a staggering 92% of pricing projects fail? Truth is, without the right implementation roadmap in place, businesses will have a difficult time setting their pricing solution up for sustainable long-term success. Luckily, there are a few rules we live by at Pricefx that can guide you on how to implement software effectively, building a strong foundation to serve your evolving pricing needs for years to come.
Here at Pricefx, as a cloud-native pricing company with flexibility built into our DNA, we understand better than anyone that no pricing solution is meant to be stagnant. Because your pricing solution is a living and breathing entity, much like your strategic goals, it is crucial to have the right mechanisms in place at go-live to support change and extract maximum value.
In this article, you will learn how to implement your pricing solution to support long-term pricing success by walking through the tried-and-true best practices of each implementation phase, step by step.
How to Implement a Successful Pricing Software Solution: A Roadmap for Success
While we might have a good idea of what a sustainable pricing software solution should look like in our mind’s eye, more important still is understanding how to achieve this. To do this, let’s walk through how each stage of the implementation project should be approached.
1. Contract Preparation Phase
Define Requirements and Assess Feasibility Accordingly
At this stage, it’s common for requirements to be approached at a high level, and as we know, everything is simpler in the abstract. For this reason, it’s essential for pricing experts to bring in as many details as possible to the requirements early on, as this supports a more accurate project estimation from a cost and timeline perspective.
To do this, we recommend organizing initial requirement engineering workshops with your pricing software vendor, which involve a joint gathering and assessment of software requirements, to ensure that what your business needs to get from the solution is both feasible to achieve and worthwhile to undertake in the long term.
The roles brought into these initial conversations should include your IT department, solution architects from your side and the vendor’s, and any key business stakeholders that will be directly involved in implementation efforts, to ensure the requirements are clearly understood and aligned across the entire organization.
2. Foundation Phase
Clarify Roles and Responsibilities
In the foundation phase of the project, your business should already have identified the key roles and responsibilities involved, not only to support a more efficient implementation period but also to appropriately assign the right roles to the right tasks. In our experience, those key roles should include:
A product owner should be added to the project to make the right calls during the change management process and represent the needs of your company from a product perspective.
IT Department Leads
As mentioned, IT involvement at the onset is critical; this should involve an IT project lead who can facilitate data integration efforts and an IT architect to determine how the pricing solution fits into your existing IT landscape and identify any security standards that will need to be adhered to. In addition, the project will require IT leads who can step in to configure the connectors to your third-party systems, such as SAP, where required.
Subject matter experts in pricing will also need to be brought in for unit testing and UAT efforts, especially to prepare test scripts, and to facilitate final end user trainings using concepts from our “train the trainer” self-sufficiency training programs.
Establish Ways of Working
To ensure a smooth collaborative period with your software vendor, you should agree upfront on your shared project management tools and principles; this includes selecting the test management tool, such as Jira, the central repository for documentation, and agreeing on the cadence and manner of sharing project updates, such as holding daily standups.
In addition, the whole team should come together to compile a joint project timeline that considers public and personal holidays, conflicting IT initiatives, such as SAP migration, and any other aspects that limit the team’s availability to work on the implementation.
Align on Project Scope and Identify Risk
Identifying the functionalities that should be included in the application, and making sure all stakeholders are on the same page, is essential here, as the ones discussed in the sales cycle are typically vastly different from those brought up in the first project phase. For instance, rebate management may be requested in the sales cycle, but may not come up in the first phase. In addition, we recommend identifying potential risks early, even if those risks do not materialize.
Finally, your IT infrastructure should be set up to seamlessly integrate your pricing software solution and ensure a smooth workflow. This includes establishing local environments for testing and development and implementing automated deployments, among others.
3. Realization Phase
Touch Base on Requirements
As it happens, the agreed requirements from previous phases may turn out to be less relevant or urgent to your business, so re-aligning at this stage with your software vendor on the project scope and calling out the features that should be prioritized over others is worthwhile, especially if your strategic goals change significantly over the project lifecycle.
Uphold Documentation Best Practices
Aligning on the “how” and the “what” of your documentation practice is a helpful way to approach it effectively. First, take a collaborative approach to documentation by involving key users and the implementation partner to ensure there is comprehensive coverage.
Next, ensure that your documentation clearly maps the requirements of the modules and functionalities and covers technical interfaces and data flows. Also, we recommend having a shared operational handbook for system roles and responsibilities to promote alignment on project best practices.
Don’t Compromise on Quality
When it comes to ensuring a sustainable pricing software solution, quality is never up for negotiation; this applies even when minimal customization is required. When creating quality, we are primarily referring to proper source code management and data governance.
Ensuring quality code involves regularly tracking changes over time and serving automated deployments, limiting manual effort that breeds costly errors and cutting down on total cost of ownership (TCO) in the long term. To help accelerate the quality assurance (QA) process, we recommend writing user tests in tandem with the code itself and carrying out shorter testing cycles.
Having good data is supported by testing the quality of the data you set in the system (e.g, checking for duplicates, identifying a single source of truth, etc.) and taking inventory of and testing any future data volumes to avoid performance issues later.
4. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) Phase
We like to say that while unit testing is like testing the individual wagons of a train, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is checking to make sure the whole train works. Because your team will be testing the application end to end, it is critical to dedicate sufficient time and resources to getting it right.
In addition, as the roles carrying out unit testing will likely differ from those carrying out UAT, your company’s business users, who may not have been involved in the project from the start, should receive UAT training in advance.
Go-live consists of four main points that should be addressed: technical cutover, initial data loads, user training, and stabilization. Let’s briefly go over how each should be approached to support the solution’s success long after it takes off:
Technical Cutover: This should involve bringing the source code to the production system, preferably supported by automated development. However, there may be some manual tasks required for configuration.
Initial Data Loads: When it comes to data loading, company-specific parameters can be done manually, while transaction data should ideally be automated. This alone will take several days to complete.
User Training:As mentioned, as the UAT period will involve different roles than those carrying out unit testing, it is useful to apply the “train the trainer” concept to build user skills internally and expand the user group in the future.
Stabilization: While this phase of go-Llve is typically covered in the commercial agreement, having a maintenance contract in place is recommended, as this ensures quick reactivity to requested changes throughout the production stage.
By following this structured approach to go-live, your company can quickly address post-go-live changes and any issues that arise during the stabilization phase.
When Implementing Your Software Project, Are You Also Aware of What Not to Do?
Now that you have a structured plan in place to support a sustainable pricing project that can adapt quickly to your company’s evolving strategic pricing goals, you should also be aware of common missteps that can quickly derail a successful implementation, undermining the benefits you expect from the solution and skyrocketing total cost of ownership.
To learn more about what not to do in a pricing software implementation, consider checking out our article below:
Or head over to our video on the most decisive factors that enable software projects to succeed or lead to failure:
Boris Dingeouts has over 25 years’ experience in the software implementation and consulting space. He has been with Pricefx for more than 5 years after already having implemented pricing software for about 10 years. Prior to this Boris was implementing SAP software, including pricing and price setting tools, for more than 13 years. In his current role as Project Management Competency Lead he is responsible for Pricefx' Project Implementation Methodology.