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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What is Apttus?

If you google "What is Apttus"?
The first result you get says:-

Apttus is one of the fastest growing Silicon Valley technology companies. Apttus provides Cloud Computing solutions that encompass Quote-to-Cash and Procure-to-Pay solutions to the Global 500 and mid-market marketplace. Apttus is's leading native Salesforce1 application partner.

Though its good to know about background of Apttus , we the developers are more interested in the solutions/products provided by Apttus.
The major solution catered by Apttus is the comprehensive solution for :-
  Quote - to- Cash

Going by the online documentation provided by Apttus  its - The only choice to intelligently configure, price and quote new deals, add-on sales and renewals – all inside Salesforce.

So far so good, but you as a developer are inquisitive to know more about this product . What are challenges which one will encounter while suggesting it as a solution? What are the user cases which are deemed fit to adopt Apttus (QTC) as a solution?
What is the Quote -to-Cash journey?
It is essentially all the activities right from:-
a. cold calling / hot calling
b. lead management / opportunity management
c. suggesting products and services to the prospective customers
d. getting all approvals for the solution/ product combination suggested
e. generating contracts, doing the redlining of the contract, maintaining version of different contracts
f. renewals / amendments / termination , etc.

For clarity please refer to the diagram below:-

Apttus provides a suite of solutions which is 100% native to salesforce for automating the full quote to cash journey.
If most of the "Pre-Sales processes" and "Sales Processes" are carried out in salesforce you can consider using Apttus for CPQ and Contract management.
One needs to install the requisite "Managed Packages" provided by Apttus to have the solution up and running in your salesforce orgs.
The main packages which you might need to install are shown in the diagram below:-

I will talk about the basic features provided by them in a follow-up blog.
Functionally Apttus solution can be compartmentalized into the following divisions:-

We will cover each of these segments in days to come, keep watching this space for more.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Why is Apttus stealing the march over Zuora?

Salesforce is a vibrant platform which caters to most of the housekeeping activities of any standard business.
Those activities/ processes may be :-
  • Pre Sales / Marketing
  •  Sales
  •  After Sales Service / Support
  •  Knowledge Base Management
  •  Website for popularizing products or taking information about product & services to potential clients

Having said that one realizes that there is no OOB (Out of Box) CPQ module or Configure - Price - Quote Module in salesforce.

What is CPQ?
CPQ, or Configure Price Quote Software is a sales tool or a set of tools designed to help companies produce accurate and highly configured quotes making all of the complex product, pricing, and business rules centralized, automatic and available in real-time, so that sales has all the information they need while making sales handy.
Since Salesforce doesn’t provide a module / tools dedicated for CPQ, what are the options. Some of the options are:-
1.  One can build a CPQ solution using some custom objects and other customization ( which no wonder is a cumbersome process)
2.   The other option is to leverage the existing CPQ solutions.
       i.  Some are on premise systems hence perhaps not the best choice
       ii.  Others are on the cloud but integration between the different cloud ecosystems is sometimes not that easy. Remember why salesforce is such a hit because of the ease with which one can learn the platform nitty-gritties and develop solution. Unfortunately many of the earlier cloud based CPQ solution have very cumbersome API based integrations, which at times might not be so easy to grasp.
In the IInd category let’s take the example of Zuora which is a cloud based CPQ solution (among other solutions like billing engine) and an ideal candidate for adoption in the cloud eco-system.
So what is Zuora?
Zuora for Salesforce lets one sell and nurture subscriptions without breaking one’s sales and customer care processes.
Zuora for Salesforce provides two native applications:
·         Quotes to enable direct assisted sales of your subscription offerings
·          360 Sync to provide full visibility in Salesforce into key Subscriber activity and into opportunities that exist to foster deeper subscriber relationships
Despite being fully on cloud one gets a sense that implementing Zuora at times poses some challenges.
i.                     The API at times is not very well documented for a new developer to implement, also unlike salesforce the training resources are not freely available.
ii.                   Also one should be a partner to get a Zuora org/ instance; hence one cannot easily play around with it.
iii.                  The fact that Accounts and some other associated data reside both in salesforce and Zuora give a semblance of data duplication though the 360 sync ensures that both the copies always reflect the same information.
iv.                 The fact that despite both environments being on cloud the fact that the cloud are different and need some kind of hand-shake for the information to flow also brings in some complexity thus impeding adoption.

As per online Apttus resources- Apttus Configure Price Quote (CPQ) is the choice for Salesforce to intelligently configure price and quote new deals, add-on sales and renewals — all inside Salesforce.
The following screenshot further clarifies what Apttus stands for.

In simple words Apttus is a product built on platform or one can say that its native to salesforce.  Now what does it imply , it means objects like Accounts, contacts , quote won’t be duplicated or in other words in Salesforce and Apttus CPQ there will be only one instance of such objects unlike Zuora.

The Native VS Composite App debate

 Hence despite sharing some of the similar difficulties with Zuora ( from a developer/ implementer point of view) like:-
1. Documentation / Resources not freely available like salesforce.
2. The product cannot be tried by developers in general unless one is a partner 
APTTUS is having fairly good adoption rate in the Salesforce –CPQ space due to being native to salesforce.