Here at QSTRAT, we’ve learned over time what application features are important to our manufacturing customers in making their customer quoting process more efficient. Leveraging a state-of-the-art quoting platform can increase productivity and response quality by streamlining and automating the quoting process.
When used as part of a larger system topology including CRM, PLM, ERP, and others, a quotation platform works to improve the efficiency of the sales process and can provide tremendous time savings.
Let’s take a look at some of the quoting software features our customers have found critical in their quoting process measured against key metrics such as quote processing time from receipt to submission.
Integration with CRM, ERP and Other Enterprise Systems
The quoting process for many companies can be a complicated function, requiring the coordinated collection of dependent information gleaned from many areas of an organization to ensure delivery of a complete and accurate response. Financial forecasting systems require accurate pricing and cost data to forecast margin calculations, while supply chain management and inventory systems regularly update the quoting system to account for available inventory.
Meanwhile, finding sources for new materials or increased volumes of material becomes a key element of completing the cost estimate for a new product. Automation of the order-entry process triggered by business award in the quote system can greatly enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the connected system.
Detailed Cost Estimation
Too often, based on the short timelines and pressure of completing quotes in a disconnected process, product costs are based on incomplete models that expose the company to unnecessary risk. An effective and accurate quote includes a detailed cost estimate that covers all cost elements with updated materials and recognizing rates for labor, overhead, and tooling that will be in place when the production will actually take place.
From a system perspective, this process should be tightly controlled yet visible to others involved to ensure the detail is validated across the organization. Integrating this step into the quoting process provides a key checkpoint in the approval flow that reduces the risk of a poorly estimated and then quoted part making it to the end customer.
Integrated e-RFQ Processing
Unfortunately, most ERP systems used by manufacturers don’t have ideal functionality for e-RFQ processing with suppliers. The result is often a manual process using spreadsheets and emails. Additionally, since e-RFQs often request information about products and potential suppliers that both may not yet be in the ERP, automated sourcing solutions become a critical complement to most manufacturer’s ERP systems.
Many estimates fall short of market price when, in the interest of expediency, existing pricing from suppliers is used as the basis for a quote rather than swiftly executing an e-RFQ to get the latest updated and market-based pricing.
Manage the Internal Workflow of Quote Development
Manufacturers manage complex quoting processes that require inputs from multiple sources, many of which have dependencies between each other. Quoting software allows companies to manage all quoting activity in one central repository which allows them to:
- Track quote activity, approvals, comments and key process milestones
- Attach documentation of all types to support transparency including all document types and even view 3D drawings
- Forecast future sales for new business based on customer volumes and factored by “win probability”
All 3D drawings, estimations and supporting documentation can then be integrated into the quote package to provide to the end customer as required
Automated Proposal Generation
The typical quotation submission process for manufacturers involves building a response document based on the customer’s unique requirements, e.g. completing a pre-defined spreadsheet, or filling information into a supplier response portal. A Quotation platform can produce a professional-quality, detailed proposal that includes details on how the price was determined and outlines the performance expectations for the project.
An effective solution also allows for customization of the response to meet the customer’s requirements, typically based on a defined template that can be reused. This type of automation of the quoting process allows your sales staff to spend more time selling instead of gathering the necessary information to create quotes and format those quotes per the customer’s needs.
Quoting Software from QSTRAT
QSTRAT’s quoting software for manufacturers offers the only industry solution that gathers all of the critical quoting processes into one integrated system. The QLM Quoting suite:
- Automates order entry to your ERP post business award
- Creates customized material libraries
- Provides real-time collaboration and sharing capacities
- Incorporates advanced text search functionality for easy navigation
- Builds customer pricing based on detailed cost model including selected supplier responses and definable margin rates throughout the Bill of Material
- Sets approvals and checkpoints with built-in and configurable workflow management for the quoting process
- Previews and sends formal customer quote documents and systematically recognizes customer acceptance and PO to initiate customer order processing
Quoting software is crucial to accelerating your quote turnaround time and reducing tedious labor requirements. For more information about our automated quoting solution for manufacturers, please don’t hesitate to contact the QSTRAT team today.