When PROS engages with potential customers, we are frequently asked about our capability to support their unique business requirements. The question typically takes the form of “Is your solution configurable?” Companies want a solution that will evolve as their customers and markets evolve – they want configurability.
Sometimes these companies really even want to know the answer; sometimes they are just “checking the box” on a decision that’s already made. Those that take the time to do the due diligence are rewarded with a solution that grows and evolves with them at a low TCO. Those that don’t may find themselves years later with an unsustainable solution or a seven-figure upgrade path. They’re often surprised to find – after contract signing – that their “configurable” solution cannot be upgraded to take advantage of their vendor’s latest and greatest features, at least not without a lot of pain and effort.
So why do many ‘configurable’ systems still have upgrade problems? First, let’s understand that configurability is important for two reasons:
1) It allows business users to change the application to meet their needs, without the requirement for a development and release cycle; and
2) It allows IT to upgrade the application to the latest technology without the need for services to rewrite custom code.
Undoubtedly, many of the pricing solution providers offer a positive response – and in fact do deliver – on the first item above.
The second point is often the Trojan horse of pricing implementations. So how should you go about doing due diligence on the second? Don’t take my word for it; I am obviously biased. Ask your potential vendor for references that can provide satisfactory answers to these four questions:
- Can you provide 3 customers that have upgraded a release – start to finish – in less than a month? PROS invites you to speak with our customers about just how painless our upgrade process is. In fact, many accomplish the task in hours, not months.
- How many of your current customers are on a release you’ve launched in the last 12 months? Companies take frequent upgrades when the effort and cost is minimal. If you find a large percentage of your vendor’s customers are on a release that is more than a year old, you know that upgrades are problematic. Almost 100% of PROS customers are on a release launched in the last 12 months. Speak with them and you’ll hear their experiences firsthand.
- Can I configure any module of my pricing application or just the “core” without the need for custom code? The entire PROS solution is configurable without the need for custom code – there is no need to ask what is and what isn’t out of bounds. Ask our customers.
- What is the headcount and budget required to keep the solution sustainable past go live? If your pricing vendor has customers on releases more than two years old – an indication that upgrades are hard – it’s probably due to custom code that prevents the upgrade. That custom code typically requires multiple, full-time IT FTEs or external consultants just to maintain changing business requirements to the system since upgrades aren’t an option. When a system requires this amount of overhead to maintain, you might have a budgetary problem on your hands, once you’ve moved past implementation. PROS customers have minimal IT maintenance budgets because upgrading to the latest technology is easy. Ask them.
Don’t be fooled by the promises of “configurability.” Find out what it really means to your organization.
If you find yourself with a pricing solution that you can’t upgrade, and you want to explore a transition to a platform that delivers on your needs today and in the future – at minimal cost to your organization – please e-mail me at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.