Robust software, highly configure-able but not without challenges
Updated February 25, 2015
Robust software, highly configure-able but not without challenges
Score 7 out of 10
- Sales Engine
- Admin Platform
- Proposal generation
Overall Satisfaction with BigMachines
At our company, BigMachines is used as the primary Sales quoting and contracting software. It is primarily used by the Sales organization (both internal Sales and District Sales Managers) to build out quotes and generate contracts and addendums for new and existing business. Sales Operations is the owner and is the admin of the software, along with IT, who facilitate the use of user licenses. The software is also used by the Product organization and is a key component in the Go-To-Market process by making new pricing generally available for sale. Business analysts work directly with IT developers to design user requirements when building out new quote products. The software helps to automate the contracting and approval process, making sure that specific quote products go through the correct discount approval channels. There is tie in with Salesforce as well, which has allowed us to generate Opportunities with Products reports and report on sales activities and KPIs for specific products.
- Automation of discount approvals and protection of margin- This is probably one of the most widely-discussed features. Our ability to set maximum allowable discount thresholds is imperative, especially when there are hard costs like vendor or partner royalties associated with each quote product. You can really lock product discounts down at the line item level (though presents slight frustrations as well).
- Configurable and customize-able - The code base is configurable and has allowed our in-house developer to develop some fully custom discount approval workflows. It can also be customized to program in maximum and minimum allowable values and graphical control elements like pop up menus, help text, list boxes, text fields, and other software components.
- Ability to implement business rules based on business requirements (i.e. publicly traded company, Sarbanes Oxley) is a plus.
- The software is great for implementing simple if/then logic (if X product is selected then Y product should also print on the agreement). Specific trigger rules can be written and implemented based on if/then criteria in order to meet business rules and scenarios. You can write as many quote requirements as you need.
- Integration with Salesforce
- One of the biggest challenges we've experience with the software is the lack of flexibility in deploying snippets of code changes to production. Unlike making changes in our Salesforce test environment, when deploying BM to a production environment our IT developer has to migrate a fully tested code-complete snapshot of sandbox to our production environment all at once. This presents challenges for IT when managing multiple projects from different areas of the business, specifically general sales availability expectations. In order to meet business deadlines, sprint cycles are managed against a floating deployment schedule to ensure that code for all projects are deployed at once.
- While the software is customize-able, deploying more complex changes takes much time and effort. Dedicated programmers and business systems analysts are needed to define the business rules, document the programmed changes, and deploy the software to production. It takes time to learn and and train on the logic behind the scenes. User training is definitely required for more complex configurations. There is no automated wizard to walk-through test configurations (this would be a nice-to-have).
- In a fast paced agile environment, the software is a little slow in how it integrates into business process, approvals, and Go-To-Market strategy.... at least in our business.
- Navigation between configuration pages is a little cumbersome.
- The software UI has been modified A LOT to make the user experience easier for the Sales teams. A lot of credit goes to the programmer but overall the software UI is still static and at times inflexible when compared to other new drag and drop/cloud-based wizard models.
- Would be nice if there were integration with our billing system (this is a nice to have!) Product Catalog (SKU) management becomes very manual and all the more important when there is lack of integration with the billing system. We have to coordinate efforts with Billing, Sales, and IT to make sure that the product catalog stays clean and up-to-date.
- While the ability to lock down discount allowables is a plus, this can also stall deals if allowables HAVE to be exceeded to win business (more of a process/culture change I know). Ad-hoc Emergency fixes can be deployed but you have to weigh the benefits against these "whirl-wind" resource costs.
- Sales Operations or IT would have a better understanding of the license user costs and ROI. I do know that Sales has experienced frustrations in the the lead gen-to-close process and have experienced delays with some deals. In other instances, the software has worked fine. I would love to see an analysis on how our lead-conversion rate, sales cycles, and proposal volume stacks up.
If you're looking for a robust solution that is highly customize-able and configurable, BigMachines is definitely worth exploring. I wouldn't say that the software itself is slick, but rather, its configurable nature allows a talented programmer to implement some pretty slick solutions. The things our developer has been able to do with soft and hard floor discount approval rules is pretty cool. However, dedicated analysts are needed to help with documentation and user training because the software doesn't have a wizard interface. Also be sure to understand how internal business processes (like sales approvals, IT sprint cycles, and SarBox requirements) are impacted due to the strict bulk code sandbox-to-production migration requirements. A complete snapshot of the test environment has to be deployed all at once; this is a limiting factor in our fast pace agile environment (though we've adapted) where speed to market is imperative. Just make sure you can re-write processes if needed, dedicate time and resources to train users and document business rules. Also, make sure the business has a clear operational strategy when it comes to Product Catalog (SKU) management. This process may become very manual due to lack of billing system integration capabilities (based on what I've seen). End-of Sales efforts may have to be coordinated with Billing, Sales, and IT departments to during the SKU removal or clean-up process.
Overall, it is a robust software that we have made work through dedicated time, resource training, and process work-arounds. I think the speed to train and the strict production deployment requirements are playing a large factor in the business's decision to explore other potential vendors and alternatives.
The software UI can be as complex or as simple as you need it to be (depending on the business). It does require training others on quote configuration and the order in which to build out order positions prior to configuring a quote. Once users are trained;however, it is fairly straight-forward. The UI is still more static than other new wizard/drag-and-drop models, but it get's the job done.
Feel confident using
Requires technical support
Lots to learn
- Selection of products through graphical user components like dropdowns, list views and use of help text.
- Automation of trigger rules and implementation of if/then logic (i.e. If Product A is selected, then Product B should also print on the proposal)
- Adding products to quotes is straight-forward
- Entering product quantities and building order positions is straight-forward
- Lack of a wizard. A lot of credit goes out the the programmer in making the UI more accessible and more "wizard-like" to improve the user experience.
- Page to page navigation is cumbersome at times, especially during quote reconfiguration
- The quote page can be quite complex to navigate and configure before printing a proposal or contract