As you and your team start to gear up for a software project, you probably wish someone would just sit down and explain the phases of a pricing software project so that you know exactly how to prepare. Without this preparation, your project will take longer than needed which might result in you spending more on money and man hours than you intended or worse, your project could fail altogether.
At Pricefx, we’ve helped countless organizations like yours to move from the discovery stage (sounds a bit like a Star Trek show) of a pricing project all the way to final delivery with smiles on faces and everyone stood by to welcome the new bouncing pricing software.
By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what to expect so that you can walk into every phase, prepared to make the most of each interaction.
The 7 Stages of a Pricing Software Project
Stage 1: Pre-Planning Phase
The pre-planning phase refers to the prep that you should do before you start working on executing a software project. During this stage, you will identify the big opportunities you have within pricing that will move the needle the fastest.
Using the example of price setting for a dynamic price environment, you can then build a picture of what success looks like. So, you might want to understand how many times you are going to change prices, what your goals are and how quickly you want to make those changes. In an example where quotes are your main driver, you might want to think in terms of response times to a customer, approval times, or your win-loss rate on quotes.
Once you understand what your key drivers for success are and can articulate them to the implementation team, you’ll already be miles ahead. If you haven’t yet determined what your key drivers are, you will want to spend some time on this as this will set the strategy and direction for the rest of the project. It also makes the work in the next stage a lot easier.
Stage 2: The Initiation Phase
During this phase, your requirements are refined and turned into user stories (a rough draft of how you expect the end user to work with the software) so we can then pass it off to our configuration engineers. The configuration engineers are the people that take your user stories to structure the software to suit your needs.
There may be process flows and a few mock-ups to illustrate the points. The goal of this stage is to understand what your definition of “done” is. This is one of the most crucial stages of the implementation project. With this, you can start loading your data and begin to plan the design and configuration based on your requirements, and you’ll have a clearer timeline of what happens next.
You want to walk out of this stage with a clear idea of the scope and timeline of the project.
Stage 3: The Development Phase of a Pricing Software Project
While there are multiple approaches to handling a project, such as a fixed price proposal or a fixed time, an Agile approach to software implementation is one of the best. The reason for this is because your business does not stop just because you have an upcoming pricing project, and your priorities may even change during the course of the project. An Agile approach is one of the easiest ways to support flexibility – and ensure an on-time go live.
In an Agile project, you have time-boxed sprints, which means that for every given number of days, we deliver working software to you. We usually recommend three (3) week sprints so you see the progress and can provide feedback (and correction) on a frequent basis. Once the sprint is demod to you and delivered, then work begins on the next set of user stories that you prioritize.
That way, you see the software and your future pricing process coming together in real time. It sounds counterintuitive but one of the principles of Agile is that you want to “fail fast and fail often.” What is meant by this?
By showing working software at frequent intervals to get your feedback on what will work for your users – and what won’t – so that any necessary course corrections are made in the next sprint.
Stage 4: The Demo Phase of a Pricing Software Project
During this stage of the sprint, you’ll received what’s been developed from your user stories and review it with your team. Once you’ve confirmed this is what you expected then you’ll go to the next sprint.
Each sprint results in a specific increment of working software that is ready for you to test and use. As you can see, the demo phase comes at the end of each user story and as a result is cyclical. You’ll continue to demo the software until all of the user stories are done or you elect to proceed to User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and prepare for a release to production.
Stage 5: The Testing and Training of a Pricing Software Project
Following each sprint, you’ll need to take what we’ve developed to your project core team, and have them begin testing the software. Following the demo, you and your team can get their hands on the keyboard and start to see how things start to work.
During this stage, you might find that you need request changes from what you originally thought you wanted. And, you may even find a bug or two that needs to be corrected. Both of these are normal because once you see how the software really runs, having that flexibility an Agile approach gives you the adaptability and makes it easier to re-shift priorities.
Stage 6: The User Acceptance Testing (UAT) Phase
During UAT, this is when you’d bring in your business users to run a complete end-to-end test of the software. In a QA environment, all inbound and outbound integrations to other systems are turned on and you’re able to run your company’s test scripts that mirror real world use cases. The testing is largely a repeat of the individual sprint testing you’ve already done, but now with other source systems supplying and receiving data in real time.
UAT typically lasts approximately two weeks, where the first week is for user testing and then the second week is for any final bug-fixes and retesting prior to cutting over to production. This is the “final exam” before go live of your new pricing system.
Stage 7: The Production Phase of a Pricing Software Project
This process continues this way through the final development sprint and testing until you reach a point where you’re ready to cut-over to live, production systems and put your business users on the application.
Avoiding Mistakes in a Pricing Project
Now that you know what the stages of a project are, you can walk into each stage comfortably because you know what to expect and won’t run into any avoidable obstacles.
We’re sure that you’re not the only person on a project. If you are, then stop what you’re doing and check out the article link below on the roles and key responsibilities you need to include on your team for a pricing software project.
Implementing pricing software is a herculean task and cannot be done alone.
Ready to learn more about how you can start a project with us?
Chris Keenan has over 2 decades of experience in pricing, software implementation, and operations management. In addition to leading software delivery for the past twelve (12) years, he’s worked for Global 1000 companies improving their pricing practices to be able to achieve greater win rates and implement price increases in fast-changing commodity pricing environments. Chris was the VP of Customer Delivery at Pricefx and now leads the GTM Strategy at Canidium.