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2015-05-07 03:03:48

Operationalizing Risk Management in Pre-Sales

Since more than 11 years I have been involved in risk management in the area of pre-sales for a high tech company. Process design and process management have been my passion for 20 years. Consequently I engaged in operationalizing risk management in my area of responsibility - Deal Lifecycle Management (project management during pre-sales taking care of complex, non-standard sales opportunities) in EMEA.

Let me start this thread by sharing - on an initially high level - with you what we have accomplished in this area as of today.

In the competitive situation we find ourselves it is no option to reject any non-standard requirements from customers. Rather the smart way how we deal with non-standard requests has become an essential success factor - you could also say competitive advantage - for NetApp. This is already the problem statement.

As a consequence handling non-standard requests is a critical part of the offering process. Required at the same time are speed and smart resolutions - still warranting compliance while offering the customer a fair and acceptable solution.

Hence from a goal perspective operationalizing meant to me making risk management in the pre-sales area predictive, efficient, manageable and valuable (in both directions: internally supporting compliance, speed, strategy and externally helping to provide quick and competitive offerings to partners and customers).

Therefore we implemented 3 processes and supporting tools. Lets look at the highlights of the solution:

On the process side we implemented a) Deal Lifecycle Management (DLM) b) Deal Review Process (DRP) and c) Sales Content Management (SCM).

DLM is the foundation providing end-to-end management of and guidance for sales opportunities from early stages (no request for proposal yet received, eventually preparing for it) to the final stages (negotiations, execution and hand-off to fulfillment). Besides other responsibilities DLM is facilitating the identification of potential non-standard requests and subsequently driving the DRP in order to obtain guidance and approvals. Triggers for DLM engagement are certain value thresholds, non-standard requirements or management request.

DRP is triggered by defined criteria and thresholds and facilitates a smooth, fast and reliable escalation process flowing bottom (Area) up the management hierarchy. The processes provide toll gates which help to secure quality and compliance.

SCM is delivering pre-approved ready to use content (in several important kanguages!) and collateral services providing customized proposal documents. Triggers are coming from go-to-market activities as well as requests for content or customized proposals from the sales teams

On the tool side we have implemented a combined Project- and Risk Management tool (MDCC/SRC) and a tool for proposal content management (ProposalCenter).

MDCC/SRC is connected to our CRM platform Salesforce and supports the Deal Lifecycle Managers with managing timelines, non-standard requests (Deviations) and approvals. It provides guidance about how to handle a particular Deviation and help to capture approvals. As a side effect the application delivers highly valuable data regarding precedences which on the one hand continuously build a powerful knowledge base as well delivers business intelligence which helps to improve policies and strategy.

ProposalCenter enables self service for sales teams and the capacity to assemble customized proposal documents based on answers to a checklist. As the content has been pre-approved and quality controlled the use of this tool allows to scale without having to add headcount in sales support (scale smart).

Today we are looking at a system of processes and tools which are perceived as indispensable with regard to sales and trade compliance, time to market and competitive advantage. With a small team we are managing several hundred non-standard opportunities a year with full transparency down to the Deviation level and can proudly say that we have significantly improved risk management and sales efficiency without having had to add headcount therefore. We are permanently measuring traction and process compliance which allows a proactive and individual approach to areas of weakness and continuous improvement. Without additional effort a growing pool of highly valuable and relevant data became available which we haven't even fully embraced yet.

Just now projects regarding analytics and further methods helping to better understand the data (recommendation technologies) are on the way.

If there is interest I will continue shortly and dive deeper into specific topics of this solution. I'm looking forward for comments and questions.

Thank you!
 •   2015-05-08 05:54:57
Michael - You raise some very interesting points. Could you summarize the key question that other members might be able to address?
 •  NetApp UK Ltd  •   2015-05-22 09:29:20
Further to my colleague's post above, has anybody got any experience they can share, please, about the consolidating of process-oriented applications designed in-house into commercially developed products such as Salesforce? What thoughts did you give to the balancing of complexity, effort and costs of the consolidation versus the continued development of the in-house app?
 •   2016-06-13 01:45:52
Thank you for you sharing, its well thought strategies.
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