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September 1st, 2022 | 12 min. read

Chris Keenan
VP Customer Enablement at Pricefx

Why SaaS Pricing Software Takes a “Long” Time to Implement

Once you’ve decided to use pricing software, it might come as a surprise to learn that pricing software takes weeks to months to implement. You might even think to yourself, “why should I change when the Excel spreadsheets and databases that I use now already work (even if my price increases do take weeks to calculate)?

We hear your pain. After all, other software like CRMs or ERPs can take a shorter time to implement. Purchasing new pricing software is a time of big investment and commitment. Choose incorrectly, and you could be throwing a lot of money and time down the drain and wasting precious time and resources. So, it’s no wonder that you feel a little hot under the collar when implementation length is longer expected. 

But while we understand the feeling, we challenge the thinking.  

At Pricefx we’ve worked with customers to implement more than 150 projects for our clients in the last five years, so we know a thing or two about pricing software implementations and how long projects take. 

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “Why does it take so long to implement SaaS pricing software?” and we will explore the benefits that this extra lead time brings you.  

I Should Have Stuck with My Existing Home-Grown Tool! 

If sticking with what you do today was working for you, then the best choice would have been to cling to the Excel spreadsheets that are comfortable—and emailing them around your organization to get approvals. But if you are anything like most of the customers we talk to, that process is not efficient and often takes weeks or even months (!) to implement a price change, far too long in today’s inflationary environment. And let’s not forget that the Excel tool that your company uses may have been built by one person—and only he or she really understands how it works.  

Let’s hope that they don’t win the lottery or decide to retire anytime soon, otherwise the knowledge of how your company makes price changes will leave with them. It will come as little surprise that we believe when it comes to pricing software, it’s best to have a configurable solution that you take your time getting right from the outset so it can serve you all the better in the long run. 

CTA-Build-vs-Buy-Pricing-Software

You see, comparing a home-gown tool to professional pricing software, is like comparing an extra in a movie to the leading actor. While the extra fits the costume and can get himself from A to B without too much trouble; you’re simply not going to get a performance out of him. Whereas your star brings experience and skill, he can adapt to whatever you throw at him, he can think on his feet, make suggestions, and will collaborate with you to enhance the overall movie. This doesn’t make either of them worse than the other at doing their job. They are just doing different jobs.  

It’s the same for SaaS software.  

4 Reasons Why SaaS Software Takes Time to Implement  

So, let’s explore how SaaS pricing software differs from your run-of-the-mill pricing solution, why this impacts implementation length, and the benefits to be gained by waiting a little longer for what you want. 

1. Pricing Software Works Around You 

As we’ve learned, there are two types of pricing solutions.  

Some solutions have been designed to work right out of the gate and do exactly what they say on the tin. And, if you’re willing to adapt your business practices in order to work the way they have been preconfigured, then they could well be the best choice of software for you.  

We usually find, however, that due to the considerable number of stakeholders involved in pricing and the typical complexity of pricing processes, organizations often want their pricing software to be configured around them. And that’s where pricing software like Pricefx comes in, as it has been designed with the flexibility to mold itself around an organization’s specific requirements.  

Identifying how your organization works and how to translate your exact requirements into your pricing solution build is where a lot of that implementation time is spent. 

2. Pricing Software Is Part of Your Pricing Team 

Many warehouse companies use software to help organize their logistics distribution. In this case, they could very well benefit from a preconfigured, out of the box solution because fulfilling an order always happens in consecutive logical steps and all warehouses have typical needs that a logistics software vendor would be able to predict and meet. The customer orders products, that information is relayed to the warehouse so the products can be picked and then loaded onto the truck for delivery. That is about as straightforward as it gets. 

With pricing software, by comparison, not only does each organization have its own unique requirements, but there is an element of human decision support required in strategic pricing. We like to call pricing “the 3rd rail of business processes.”  Pricing of an organization’s goods or services affect people who are in Sales, Product Marketing, Finance and Accounting and probably others in your organization. 

You see, professional SaaS pricing software delivers much more analytical power than simply moving things from A to B. It’s not just delivering a price to your ERP; it’s also considering what the best price for that customer is. It’s working out how you can navigate the maximum desired price while still being able to win the deal.  

So, part of the configuration time will be spent designing a solution that provides your decision maker with the information around what the right price should be at the time they have to make that decision. A home-grown tool simply cannot “think” this way. It’s like asking your extra to recite Hamlet or deliver an Oscar-worthy performance. It’s just not gonna happen.  

3. Pricing Software Prepares You for Change 

Back at the warehouse, if you load a pallet onto a truck, there is a certain logic and consistency every time. Like when you call “action” and your extra makes his way from A to B as planned. If circumstances change and you need him to adjust his path and go from B to A, chaos ensues.  

It won’t have passed you by that we are living in a time of change. Inflation is back in a big way. Prices are changing, not only month to month, but oftentimes week to week and day to day. Yesterday’s right price may not be right (or even acceptable) tomorrow. Just as your leading actor brings his skill to adapt to every given circumstance, reanalysing and reshaping the scene based on new criteria, your pricing software should allow you to respond to changes in the market with insight, speed, and appropriate action.  

Professional SaaS pricing software brings all the data, analytics, simulations, and recommendations to help you stay on top of your pricing in a constantly changing world, and to remain agile in your pricing strategies and approach to the market. 

4. Pricing Software Can Power Complex Pricing Processes 

Pricing is very much a data intensive activity, with most companies dealing with myriad products and customers for which they have an abundance of data. To make any use of it, however, you must make sure the inflows and outflows are set up and working correctly. Pricing software runs on key elements of your data: customer master and product master data. You need both brought into pricing software so you can evaluate and set the right price to be sent to your ERP system. 

Companies in the chemical industry, for example, often have an extraordinarily complex set of contracts with their customers, a lot of which are based on different indices that change based on the underlying prices of raw materials. On top of this, each customer could have specific indices that are required exclusively for their contracts, to which unique logic should be applied. For instance, some customers might use the index price at the end of the month, others a 90-day weighted average, others over the last six months.  

When you are dealing with many diverse types of contracts all of which have pricing logic unique to the individual customer, you either must have someone calculate these manually or you need professional pricing software to automate and keep prices accurate. And yes, it’s going to take longer to implement, because your software vendor must understand all the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of the way you do business in order to build the right formula into your pricing logic to ensure it generates the right price in all given circumstances. (Even Leonardo DiCaprio has to study his character and learn his lines.) 

6 Ways to Help Reduce Implementation Length 

Having explored all the reasons that choosing professional pricing software can increase implementation length, perhaps it’s prudent for me to point out that it doesn’t actually have to take a long time. It does, however, require an investment.  

At Pricefx, we are keen to keep implementation length to a minimum—no more than around five months—because we want our customers to start seeing an uplift in their pricing and a return on investment as soon as possible.  

Time-Hourglass-and-Coins

Here are six key tips for helping you see success from your pricing software implementations as quickly as possible: 

  1. Understand what your most important objectives areThis is key, because once you have selected a vendor and start seeing all the capabilities they have to offer, it’s extremely easy to go down the rabbit hole and want it all, now. Prioritize the ones that are most important and most impactful to your organization.By focusing on your organization’s top priorities and pain points, you can ensure a quick time to go-live.  
  2. Know what your pricing strategy isOne of our missions at Pricefx is to help enable customers to execute their pricing strategy. And while we love sharing our experience and providing guidance on what we have seen in the past, you’ll be able to move faster with your implementation if you already know what you want to achieve. 
  3. Make sure you are fully preparedImplementing pricing software is a full digital transformation project that is going to touch a lot of corners of the organization. Being prepared with the right people, executive support, and core project team will enable you to run fast once you’ve made the decision to buy and implement. 
  4. Start with biggest pain pointsBy knowing your top priorities, the implementation team can stay laser focused on going live with the set of capabilities that solve the biggest and most important cases first.
  5. Invest in change managementGoing live quickly helps with adoption. But it is difficult to implement a lot of pricing processes at once because of how many stakeholders are involved. By starting with a core set of the most important capabilities and building out from there, you’re able to make those changes in an organized logical and sustainable way. It’s a full digital transformation, so don’t skimp on change management. 
  6.  Choose an agile vendor – At Pricefx, we choose to follow an agile approach to software implementation, breaking the project down into manageable chunks so we can get our customers live with the most important features as quickly as possible. This approach ensures a quick time to value and return on investment. Compared to a waterfall approach, where all requirements are defined up front, agile methodology is organized around flexibility and the belief that change is inevitable. Weather, war, pandemics, inflation, mergers & acquisitions, global trends – so many things, largely out of your control, could impact your project. The ability not only to change its course but to react and adapt quickly is essential to fit your current and future business needs. 

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait 

Implementing pricing software can be a scary time. Having invested not an insignificant amount of money in it, that last thing you want is to be waiting around for months while the solution is then built to meet your requirements…. Or is it? 

It is essential your pricing solution does what you need it to, the way you need it to. If you truly do only require data moved from A to B to enable simple calculations for a rigid product portfolio and uncomplicated customer base, then a simple, manual, home-grown tool is probably fine for you.  

If you need a tool that brings more analytical capabilities, decision support, and can help you with uniquely complex pricing processes, then professional pricing solutions (and their longer implementation time) are your best bet. That lead time can be beneficial in so many ways and the results will make the wait more than worthwhile.  

If you would like to learn more about the distinct phases of implementing pricing software, click on the image below to check out the article; 

CTA-Phases-of-a-Pricing-Software-Project

 About the Author

Chris Keenan has over 3 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.  Before Pricefx Chris led pricing and operations for a multi-store retail chain in the architectural paints industry.