Over the past few months we at In Mind Cloud have received many queries on how our CPQ solution is specialized for Discrete Manufacturing industries. Customers want to know how it provides CPQ (Configure, Price, and Quote) functionality in SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer (C4C) and how well our solution is integrated.
In this blog post I will provide you with in-depth development details and the game-changing customer requirements that led to our solution. I will also address the needs and challenges of SAP customers when moving on to a cloud-based CPQ solution.
What use case does the In Mind Cloud solution address?
The Opportunity-to-Order sales process has multiple touch points and data flowing in from various systems. For a non-CPQ-system this is addressed very well by a SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer (C4C) and SAP ERP combination. But if a customer wants to use configurable products with product master, price and knowledge base data pulled from SAP ERP in real time, multiple challenges arise, ranging from process orchestration to data consistency.
How Does In Mind Cloud's solution tackle these challenges?
Our CPQ addresses this problem in the most SAP-centric way: first, by integrating with SAp Hybris Cloud for Customer on an Internal Quote level, so that the customer won’t feel any disruption in the Opportunity-to-Quote process. A Quote created in SAP C4C will be imported into Cloud CPQ Express and can be configured, priced and exported from there. More so, this integration is presented in an embedded view so that sales users don't even realize they are using a solution outside SAP C4C.
SAP C4C and In Mind Cloud CPQ work together on a web-service-based integration. Just by setting up communication arrangements and enabling integration relevant web services, the system is ready for use within a few days. This integration is kept as simple as possible so customers do not have to extend their existing or new SAP C4C installations via SDK (Software Development Kit) coding. The Single Sign On problem is well addressed by usage of SAP Cloud Identity Service which provides simple and secure access to both SAP C4C and In Mind Cloud CPQ.
Before we dive into how we keep data consistent and use product master data from SAP ERP it would be helpful to look into the architecture of In Mind Cloud's CPQ and its various key components:
- Java-based application, hosted on SAP Cloud Platform
- SAP UI5-based front end with SAP FIORI Theme
- In Mind Cloud Engine middleware for Insights
- SAP SSC (Solution Sales Configuration)-based Configuration and Pricing Engine
- SAP HANA capabilities offered by cloud platform
- SAP HANA Cloud Connector for back-end connectivity
Most of SAP's CPQ customers like to use condition type-based SAP pricing on cloud with real-time updates in the pricing engine, based on changes in the configuration engine. This is a hard nut to crack in cloud because of two reasons.
- There is no engine except SAP SSC (Solution Sales Configuration) that does this outside of the SAP Kernel.
- For the SAP SSC to run on cloud it needs to have access to this data in real time as it had in the old IPC scenario, in a scalable and performant manner.
In Mind Cloud´s CPQ: Real Pricing, Real Configuration
One can visualize the challenge in the above scenario and why various partner solutions fulfill one part of it, but none offers a complete solution. Having said that, the development journey for us was also long and indeed an intensive one. With In Mind Cloud CPQ SAP customers would now be able to run SAP Pricing and Configuration using Price Data and Product Knowledgebase from ERP in the cloud respectively. Something, we at In Mind Cloud are proud to offer.
The silent features of our solution are as follows:
- ERP connection is standard SAP RFC (Remote Function Call) Connection running on top of SAP HANA Cloud Connector
- The time frame to load the product KB (Knowledge Base) and price data is kept configurable
- SAP Lo-VC (Variant Configuration) /SAP IPC (Internet Pricing and Configurator) configuration runs in cloud, powered by In Mind Cloud Engine and supported by SAP SSC (Solution Sales Configuration)
- Condition type-based SAP Pricing Engine runs in cloud with changes of configuration characteristics (product attributes) effecting the price engine calculation real time
- Customers can choose to run pricing procedure written in SAP ERP for a particular sales team/channel
- SAP UI5-based generic product configuration UI that renders any product model of any complexity
This is probably 80% of the feature set. The remaining 20% is what matters even more to our customers in Manufacturing and High-Tech industries. They have specific needs and made investments into legacy systems which they want to leverage. Let’s look into some of the most relevant additional features that SAP customers request from a CPQ solution.
The X Feature Set - Requested by Manufacturing & High-Tech Industries
Everyone talks about cross- and up-selling and we at In Mind Cloud are listening. However, what we learnt from working with mature SAP Customers in the D-A-CH market is the following:
- Customers already thought about these cross- and up-selling concepts and have actually built those deeply into their product models.
- There was no standard software to run such concepts.
We seized this opportunity!
Let me explain these special requirements by taking an example:
A sales rep is configuring a product. While doing so, he would like to set certain options that he wants to offer to the customer as an up-selling opportunity. He does not want them to be part of the quote offer yet. Hence, it should also not be part of price calculations but offered additionally. These up-selling options could be additional product features or complimentary products/parts which have a price impact. In this real-life example you can see that the sales rep selects two complimentary parts to include them in the proposal: Secondary Light and Power Wheels. They are excluded from the total price but presented as options in the proposal.
In Mind Cloud's CPQ calls these Additional Options and any price relevant characteristics (product configuration options) can be viewed as additional items to be selected at a click. This works on top of SAP Configuration and Pricing engine and provides a meaningful view to these up-selling options even before they are selected.
Secondly, the ability of In Mind Cloud CPQ to quote products optionally means choosing to exclude a certain line item from your quote - not by deleting. Again this is a feature which customers in EMEA and particularly in D-A-CH region use extensively. They either aim to offer some products that customers can choose additionally, or even quote a product that is yet to be offered.
Another use case is to simply record a customer request that they will fulfill later and do not want to ignore in quotation process. In this example the sales rep excludes the Maintenance Contract to match the pricing requirements but keeps it in the quote to up-sell this option to the customer at a later point.
With our solution they are able to do all of this and more in a standardized SAP-controlled way on SAP Cloud Platform.
More Features For Customers in Discrete Industries:
Our CPQ bundles more important features for customers in Discrete Industries such as:
- Quote Versioning
- Custom Approval/Routing
- PDF Proposal Generation
- Excel Report Generation
All of those together bring completion to a standard quotation process supporting CPQ solution, which is made available inside a SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer driven CRM process.
We continuously enhance our feature pack to increase usability and add value for our customers. You are welcome to learn more about our product here or find it in the SAP App Center. I am happy to answer any process-based, technical or general questions about the product in the comments!
This article was published earlier in SAP Community Network and was edited for this blog
Since 2019 we have updated our product offering with Manufacturing X. To learn all about it, you can book a demo or request a free trial!