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Partner-Led Pricing Software Project Failure: Who’s to Blame?

May 22nd, 2023 | 12 min. read

By Krishna Sudhakar

It all looked so good on paper and the numbers added up, but what went wrong? Implementing your organization’s pricing software project through a partner rather than through the pricing software vendor themselves seemed all set to put the wheels in motion faster than you could have anticipated and have you reaching return-on-investment (ROI) in no time. It might be cold comfort, but we can assure you that you’re not the first business that had a software project failure. On the other hand, if you are a business looking out to implement your pricing software through a partner, the great thing is we have a range of tips and methods learnt from prior mistakes.  

Rather than focusing on the negatives of ‘who is to blame?, in this article, we will avoid ‘the blame game’ and focus on the positives and articulate ways to ensure that your implementation-partner-led pricing software project can be a success.

For more than a decade now, Pricefx has been empowering hundreds of businesses just like yours to find their own unique pricing niches with the use of innovative pricing software technology. On many occasions, we’ve matched them with our pricing industry partners that can assist them in implementing their pricing software solution on route to achieving their unique set of business goals and getting their software integrated and driving its way towards ROI ASAP.  

In this article, we will examine some of the common concerns that businesses have when considering taking on a partner-led pricing software implementation project and mitigating the risks to ensure the project will be a success story. We will finish up by outlining some of the key factors that contribute to a successful implementation project and how to choose the right implementation partner that will supply ongoing support post-implementation. 

Common Concerns Faced by Businesses Considering Working with a Partner 

One of the most common concerns businesses have when considering working with a pricing software partner is the fear of being abandoned by the vendor if something goes wrong with the project. This fear is not unfounded, as some large software vendors simply sell the software and leave the implementation up to the customer or their selected third-party partner. 

The REMEDY – Pricing software integration partners often offer a more involved and personalized service, which can give customers peace of mind that they will not be left in the lurch.

 

Often, larger pricing software partners have more experience in implementation projects than do pricing vendors themselves. We are not saying that pricing vendors do not know how to implement their own software, they do. Please note, make sure you have engaged with a partner that specializes in implementations. Some pricing software partners only assist in pricing strategy assistance.

 

However, there are some partners that specialize in implementing pricing software 24/7/365 and often know the specialized implementation ‘quirks’ and ‘translating’ business requirements to solve implementation problems better than pricing vendors.

 

Vendors specialize in their own software, where as a partner with a broader view or technical expertise might understand that moving some functionality from one system to another might suit the business process better than using just the software they know.

 

Learn more about the different perspectives between pricing vendors and pricing partners here: 

CTA-4-Reasons-Pricing-Software-Companies-Are-Not-Consultants

 

Another concern businesses have is the “one throat to choke” concept, which means they want one person or entity to be responsible for the success of the project.  They do not want to have to deal with multiple people or entities, which can lead to confusion and finger-pointing if something goes wrong. This is especially important for complex projects that involve multiple systems, such as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) transformation, as it can be difficult to know where the problem lies when you are not as directly involved in the project. Most businesses want a ‘one-stop pricing shop.’ 

A third concern is the desire to have the best solution possible. Businesses want their pricing software partner to understand what they are trying to accomplish and to offer the best options for achieving their goals. This does not necessarily mean the most expensive or flashy solution, but rather the one that will best help them manage their business. 

Overall, businesses considering working with a pricing software partner should carefully evaluate their options and choose a partner that can offer personalized service, take responsibility for the success of the project, and provide the best possible solution for their needs. By doing so, they can mitigate the risks and concerns associated with pricing software implementation and ensure a successful outcome. 

Simply coming to either a pricing software vendor or a pricing software partner and announcing ‘my pricing is broken, please fix it’ is rarely going to work.

 

Have a business plan and be willing, able, and ready to communicate it. 

 

Even if it is something as straightforward as for example, ‘I want to increase my margins and make my rebate processes more efficient,’ knowing that will give your pricing software partner an end goal to work with. 

 

Over time, your business goals may change, but knowing what they are at the time of implementation will be critical to your pricing software’s adoption and ultimate success. 

Unfortunately, it is common for businesses to approach pricing software development from a technical IT perspective rather than a business perspective. Companies may have a general idea of what they want, such as changing an ERP or building a pricing system, but without a clear business goal, the project may lack direction, leading to confusion and wasted resources. As a result, it is essential to have a clear understanding of what you want to fix, change, or adapt and to communicate this to your implementation partner. 

A lot of folks assume that using the Agile methodology means that you don’t need to have clear goals in a software project. Agile methodology is great and is all about being adaptable and making small adjustments, but having a clear vision of the end goal is still critical.  

Agile allows for adjustments in the course, but if the primary focus keeps changing from day to day, it will be difficult to achieve the desired results. 

The Roles & Responsibilities of Implementation Partner & Client 

Implementing a software solution involves a lot of moving parts, with both the client and the implementation partner playing key roles. The process begins with a requirement gathering stage, sometimes called a scoping workshop, where the client and implementation partner work together to define the scope of the project and identify what needs to be accomplished. This output is turned into a Statement of Work (SOW), which outlines the project details at a high level. 

The next stage is what we call at Pricefx, ‘the foundation sprint,’ (sometimes also known generically as the ‘requirements refinement phase’), where the SOW is refined into actionable items, including technical implementation details like what information is visible on the screens and what calculations need to be executed. The agile methodology employed during this stage encourages prototyping, allowing for a fast feedback loop, and adjustments can be made quickly to ensure that real development can begin. 

Pricefx-Spring-Cycle-Timeline

The implementation partner plays a key role in owning the relationship and uses the vendor’s software to complete the pricing solution for the client. They work closely with the client to ensure that their needs are met and implement the solution, while also ensuring that the project stays within budget and on schedule. The partner’s responsibility includes keeping the project moving forward, facilitating communication, and providing guidance throughout the process. 

While methodology is an essential part of implementing a software solution, it is important to remain flexible and adjust to the client’s needs. Some clients may have their own methodology, and the implementation partner needs to be able to work within it. Ultimately, the client’s satisfaction with the product is the primary goal, and the implementation partner’s role is to help them achieve that. 

When it comes to implementing solutions for customers, it’s important to work with a partner who can build and customize the solution within the platform. The partner who builds the extension to the basic pricing vendor platform is responsible for solving the customer’s problems. This means that the solution needs to be tailored to meet the specific needs of the client. 

 

Having the Right People Involved for the Right Solution 

 

Core-Software-Implementation-team-project-owner-IT-lead

It’s also important to involve the right people in the implementation process. No software can be implemented in isolation, and there are always connections with ERP and other systems. The customer’s IT resources need to be involved in the process to ensure that the solution is sustainable and that best practices are followed. In addition, business users should be actively involved in the process to ensure that the solution meets their needs and addresses their problems. 

However, some customers may be hesitant to involve their business users in the implementation process, as they have day-to-day work that needs to be done. This can lead to problems down the line when the solution doesn’t meet the users’ needs or expectations.  

To avoid this, it is important to involve business users early on and get their feedback throughout the process. This is essential for ensuring that the solution is agile and meets the needs of the customer, which in turn kickstarts user adoption of the solution, and users already understand the solution and have a sense of ownership in the final product.  

 

How to Choose the Right Pricing Software Partner for You 

Choosing the right pricing software partner can be a daunting task, but it is essential to achieve the desired outcome. Technical implementation is critical and should be your ‘table stakes’ when selecting a partner to work with. Although there are different degrees of experience and capability among partners, what differentiates them is what else they can do for the organization. When it comes to pricing software, operational efficiency is essential, and it delivers that efficiently. However, people often overlook how it would affect the day-to-day operations and the change management required. 

There are many potential pricing software partners available that can help you find the right solution or service that you require to suit your business needs.

   

Those needs can vary from being able to hyper-drive your pricing software with enhanced functionality, streamline integrations or employ strategy consulting expertise.

  

Whatever your specific requirement, a good partner can enhance your overall price optimization, price management and sales guidance solutions.

    

It is accepted industry-wide that pricing software industry partners are broken down into four main types that can assist you across a wide range of tasks, not only implementations – (please click on the links below to learn more about each):

 

 

What’s more, pre-existing relationships formed on other projects such as ERP transformations etc. are important too.  By working with an SI that is already familiar with your company’s data stores and has participated previously in data cleanup and governance, the process will be smoother and quicker.  

 

Companies that already know the integrator’s methodology and implementation methodology are more comfortable with the process and can better understand the velocity of the project and where they are in the project timeline. 

To choose the right pricing software partner, one should trust their vendor’s recommendation. It is also important for your organization to have an idea of the level of your pricing processes and co-existing pricing maturity and process maturity. Focus on what you need from a transformation perspective or a pricing perspective that you cannot accomplish yourself. Having that honest conversation with yourself can assist in making the right choice of pricing software partner for your needs. 

 

What Support Do Partners Provide Post-Implementation? 

When implementing new software, the initial phase of the project is just the beginning. Ongoing development and support are crucial for long-term success. This is where partners come in. They can provide support for any adaptations or adjustments that need to be made after the project is complete. Even if it’s just technical adjustments, partners can be there to help. They understand the initial implementation and can work with you to make necessary changes as your process or strategy evolves. 

Partners can also provide consulting services to help with market changes or cost basis changes. Ongoing support is often overlooked, but it can make all the difference. For example, as a vendor, Pricefx makes Level 3 support – low level technical support at the partition level. Partners on the other hand, can provide more advanced process-level support by documenting, helping with change management, and educating people on what needs to be done. This can lead to faster resolution of issues.  

Ultimately, the goal is to maximize the chances of success for the project. It is important for customers to take responsibility for their own success by following through on these things. Blaming your partner for failure is never a positive thing.  

As a customer, it’s important to think about what you can do to ensure the success of your project. By working with partners for ongoing development and support, you can set yourself up for success in the long term. 

If you would like to learn more in depth on how to choose the best pricing software partner for your business, check out this handy article: 

CTA-How-to-choose-the-right-pricing-partner-for-you

Happy Pricing! 

Krishna Sudhakar

Principal, Customer Innovation , Pricefx

Krishna Sudhakar is the Director of Partner Advisory Services at Pricefx, based in Chicago. He has over 20 years of experienced in software development and delivery with a focus on designing technology solutions to solve complex business problems. Before pricing, Krishna spent time working with systems in the software, healthcare, defense and financial industries. When not helping businesses solve pricing problems, Krishna spends time traveling, trying new restaurants and getting intentionally electrically shocked running obstacle course races.