What is a Scoping Workshop? (In a Pricing Software Project)
Whether you’re tuning up for your company’s first-ever pricing software project or you have already launched several of them in staged expansions to your existing pricing functionality, you almost always begin with the same question. What is the best approach to cover all the aspects of the pricing software planning and preparation for the project? To align people with your vision, brainstorm new ideas, make sure you have all your pricing ducks in a row and finalize your methodology with a clear plan to start, go for a scoping workshop to get it right.
As native-cloud pricing software provider to hundreds of companies worldwide over the last decade and more, Pricefx are perfectly placed to discuss exactly what a scoping workshop is in the pricing software environment, what it can and cannot do, why it’s important and all the details you’ll need to be fully prepared.
Let’s get started by discussing discovery for your pricing software project before we drill down into ‘What is a Scoping Workshop?’ and what the specific components of that workshop should be.
Begin with Pricing Software Project Discovery
Your pricing software project discovery phase is usually the first step in your new project. On most occasions it should come at the beginning before any project scope unfolds or a single line of code is written.
During this stage, all your pricing project’s stakeholders should work together and collect project requirements, determine project scope, create the specific software requirements and how they fit into your expected outcomes, estimate costs, plus define roles, responsibilities, and deadlines.
It’s great that you have discovered a modern pricing software solution as the missing link to your company’s pricing pain points.
Discovery ahead of your scoping workshop will help fine tune how much of the pricing software’s functionality will be required to help your company achieve your unique set of business objectives.
It is important to check – if you are only seeking to better manage your rebates, there is no point setting yourself up for a full implementation of Price Optimization, Promotions, Sales Compensation and CPQ (Configure Price Quote).
Discovery identifies and balances ‘the art of the possible’ vs ‘the art of probably useful.’ Your pricing software provider should work with you in clarifying your precise pain points that you’re seeking to correct or answer.
Good project discovery will help you avoid costly mistakes in the future like developing unnecessary features, extra costs, etc.
What is a Scoping Workshop?
A Scoping Workshop is full-day or multi-day meeting sessions where all the parties involved (Pricing and Sales SMEs (subject matter experts), IT Architects, and software vendor team in your pricing software (from both your company and your pricing software vendor) discuss the details of the vision and project. It is the best way to clarify what the needs are, uncover areas that have not been considered before, define the risks, and work on defining the scope of the project.
Your pricing software provider will need to understand exactly what your pain points are, understand your current situation, comprehend your vision so a roadmap to implementation can be decided on together. And then the big question that needs to be discussed, is how much is your pricing software solution going to cost you? Your pricing software provider should work with their solution architects to mark up a solution price that at least in the first instance addresses your immediate pricing concerns, and secondly, phase your software project delivery so it addresses and provides a quick time to value. Remember, changes may occur during your implementation process, and any changes in set-up and price can be addressed at that time.
To help you spend less time on talks and avoid pointless discussion, bear in mind what you want from your pricing software.
Do you want to simply automate everything instead of manually inputting price lists in Excel, or is analytics and optimization and becoming more granular in your price setting more your required outcome?
Those two things will involve different work and on an entirely different budget.
Put thought and consideration into the outcomes that your business is looking for.
Coming to a scoping workshop and just to solely say ‘Fix my pricing’ might sound easy for you and liberating for your pricing software vendor, but in reality, that is far from the truth.
Yes, it can be done without advance preparation, but be ready for a day or two of tough questions from your pricing software vendor if you are unprepared.
At the end of scoping workshop, you’ll want to be in a position where a statement of work (frequently shortened to “SOW”) a technical document that outlines the project scope. timeline, costs, tasks, deliverables, methodology and goals for implementing pricing software successfully can be developed.
Sure, you can take a general straight ‘out-the-box’ pricing software solution, but it won’t be customized and optimized to provide exactly what you want out of the project, and you may end up paying for a function you’ll never use.
What is the Aim of a Scoping Workshop & What Are They For?
The aim is to provide your pricing software provider with as much specific information as possible to understand how they can assist your business to achieve your ultimate business outcomes.
Your pricing software provider can better assist you if they can understand your current and ‘as-is’ everyday processes and workloads (your pricing software provider may request to ‘spend a day in your company’s working life’ to see how you do things day-in/day-out). They will also want to be fully aware of your pain points, your functional requirements, and up-front priorities.
At the end of the day the goal of the scoping workshop is to design a roadmap for implementation to address all your needs and give you as a customer a fair and reasonable understanding of the costs involved and the realistic timelines for that implementation of your pricing solution.
So, that is the aim of the scoping workshop.
However, for you as a pricing software customer, at the end of the day what you really want to ensure from your scoping workshop is that you’ll be getting the biggest possible bang for your pricing software buck. If it means coming prepared, do it.
Why is a Scoping Workshop Important?
A Scoping Workshop allows your pricing software vendor to assess your company’s current pricing department’s situation, your pain points and understand the priorities and vision for your organization.
For example, you may feel you have your pricing mostly under control for the time being, but you require assistance in getting your rebates and promotions to bring efficiencies and not leave so much profit at the checkout. It is important to get priorities like that formalized in written into an implementation plan.
Your pricing software provider should be able to assist by putting your customized requirements into small and easy to understand user stories that define the scope of your implementation.
Those user stories based on prior and similar implementations to yours can help to evaluate the cost estimates and timeline for your pricing software’s implementation.
All the groundwork is provided to phase your project and have your new pricing software up-and-running and driving you towards Return-to-Investment (ROI) and additional value as quickly as possible.
What Can Happen if you DO NOT Have a Scoping Workshop?
If you don’t have a scoping workshop, a potential mismatch in expectations between your company and your pricing software vendor could be on the cards.
Without a scoping workshop, your pricing software vendor can supply you with an estimate of costs and timelines on the average requirements of similar organizations, but don’t expect it to be entirely accurate nor customized to your unique set of business objectives.
Remember, an estimate without drilling down into the specifics of what your business requirements are, is exactly that – only an estimate. Most companies require a more accurate understanding of the costs and timelines of their pricing software project to approve funds, staffing requirements and other resources and plan for the implementation and post go-live activities.
What Pricing Dataflows Should Be Included in a Scoping Workshop?
Another aspect of the scoping workshop is understanding the process and data flows and how your new pricing software will fit into your current IT/Systems landscape. With your input and assistance, your pricing software vendor will identify your various integration points and data flows.
Overall, pricing software is incredibly data intensive. Having quality data cleansed as much as possible is important to draw accurate pricing insights and help you drive organizational efficiencies and of course, add to your bottom line. Your pricing data needs to be interfaced with your ERP or CRM to enable price execution on downstream applications, like your finance system for example.
Almost always, your chosen pricing software vendor will have a few standard data elements that are required to support pricing functionality – Product, Sales and Customer master data, invoice transactions, cost and competitor data, sales organizations, and regions etc.
It is a comprehensive list of data that will comprise what is known as your organization’s ‘sole source of data truth.’
The output from the application is usually some form of pricing or analytics related data – price records, pricelists, quotes, rebate and promotional agreements etc. – and that is what will be required to interface with your execution systems like ERP, order entry systems or CRM or finance applications.
Who Needs to Attend a Scoping Workshop?
Naturally, your pricing software is going to have a team of people there to support you, but from your company’s side, you will need the members of your pricing/sales/IT leadership and other subject matter experts (SMEs) to define the functional requirements and pricing vision for the company.
If your pricing project’s driving force in the shape of your ultimate decision maker or executive sponsor can be there, it will also assist in making sure all the personnel in your organization are fully aligned as to the importance of the project.
The participation of your IT and data teams in the scoping workshop to understand the IT landscape and how the pricing software will fit and integrate with the current technology architecture will be critical.
How Much Should I Prepare in Advance of a Scoping Workshop?
Preparing in advance for your scoping workshop will make for a much more successful workshop, better project outcomes, and in theory that should facilitate your ROI period being as short as possible. Whatever you think will assist, no matter how obscure you think it might be, the better.
As far as scoping workshops go, bear in mind that being overprepared is more advantageous than being underprepared.
Have some process flow diagrams on hand. Know your high-level functional requirements for your pricing software. A demonstration model of existing IT environments and data workflows, samples of data and reports/pricelists/rebates agreements/quotes etc. will all come in handy and will not be wasted.
As mentioned above, involve your IT teams, and include high-level systems architecture, and interface diagrams as part of their brief. What’s more, have a plan (or at least a theoretical idea) where you believe that you see your new pricing software resting within that architecture, and what systems it will interact with.
How Long Should a Scoping Workshop Be?
Getting back to preparation, the length of your scoping project might depend on how much work you have put into preparation. However, that may depend on the breadth of pricing functionality that you plan to implement and the complexities of your business processes.
With the onset of the global pandemic, many pricing software vendors have offered the flexibility of online scoping workshops that usually run over 2 to 3 days, with 4-hour sessions each day of the workshop.
However, with the return on international business travel, there has been some level of return to in-person scoping workshops or at least hybrid in-person/online scoping workshops.
While most pricing software vendors provided the flexibility of the fully online workshops throughout CoVID-19, there really is no substitute for an in-person session where all parties can whiteboard data process flows and brainstorm ideas. In general, more topics get covered and more quickly in an in-person scoping workshop. As little as 1-to-2 days full days for a scoping workshop on-site is all that may be required depending on the complexity of your requirements and staff member customer availability.
More Questions to Think About Ahead of Your Scoping Workshop
In combination with the detailed information provided above, please check your responses to the following set of questions to be certain you have considered as much as possible before your scoping workshop kicks off;
- What’s the pricing problem/s we would like to solve the most?
- Who will be the pricing software users in my organization and what are their objectives?
- Who will be helpful in gathering the project’s requirements?
- What’s my scoping workshop team composition and who else can help?
- What’s the pricing software project’s timeline?
- How much can my organization invest in the pricing software project?
- When do we want to get started with the project?
- What are the benefits for the pricing software end users and my organization as a whole?
What’s Next After the Scoping Workshop?
The outcome of your personalized scoping workshop will be a list of user stories that will define your company’s various use cases, business requirements and ‘wish-list’ outcomes. These user stories will be reviewed with your pricing software provider and set into a list for prioritization.
Coming out of that prioritization list, your pricing software vendor’s solution architects will estimate the effort and duration to implement your pricing solution. The implementation will be set up into multiple implementation phases to ensure the quickest possible time to value for your company.
As discussed above, your chosen pricing software vendor will put together a ‘Statement of Work’ document that defines the scope of work, cost, and duration of implementation. It should also specify the methodology and plan to implement the solution.
But how long will those phases of implementation run and what will be involved in each phase?
For your convenience, the implementation experts at Pricefx have put together the handy article below to help guide you through what is involved in the implementation process: