A conversation with medical device company Nevro about their CPQ project

Listen as Joe Parlett, VP of Sales at Veloce, interviews Bryan Hix, VP of Commercial Operations at Nevro about the success of their recent CPQ project with Veloce. Bryan gives the results of the project as well as helpful tips for implementing a CPQ project of your own.

A Conversation with Veloce and Nevro webinar transcript

Joe Parlett

Hi, I'm Joe Parlett with Veloce CPQ and I'm joined today by Bryan Hix with Nevro. And today we're gonna spend about the next 30 minutes or so, discussing Nevro's CPQ project. I run sales for Veloce CPQ and Bryan Hix is the VP of Commercial Operations for Nevro. And here's what we plan to cover.

In a minute, I'll tell you a little bit about Veloce. Bryan will do the same, give you a quick introduction to Nevro, and then we'll jump into their CPQ project. He'll tell us about the CPQ initiative itself. The project is now live, so Bryan will share some of the results, they've seen, and then talk to us about how to prepare for a project, and key takeaways. Bryan's done this before, before this project with Veloce. He's done this more than once, and he's got some nuggets of information that I think are valuable. Little bit about Veloce and I think to understand Veloce it's important to understand the pedigree of our co-founders.

About Veloce

So our co-founders for 20 plus years, even before Veloce, which was founded in 2016, they had significant experience for 20 years prior to Veloce in CPQ and quote to cash and our CEO and, and co-founder, was actually the lead developer on two famously powerful, configurators, both Sibel and Trilogy.

Our co-founders with this two decades of experience of not only product development, but CPQ and quote-to-cash, project delivery, super important, as they decided: what does the modern CPQ need to be capable of? So, they looked at all of the needs and requirements of enterprise CPQ and Veloce is really the pinnacle of all of their experience over the last 20 plus years.

And Veloce was designed to handle not only the simpler CPQ use cases, but those other more challenging problems that have gone unsolved for a number of years. Challenging CPQ comes in a lot of shapes and forms, certainly though complex CPQ involves complex products, which involve complex configuration rules, complex pricing rules, having to deal with large data sets, and then processing these large transactions with great performance.

So it's through that lens or those lenses that they designed Veloce CPQ. And these challenges, they span multiple, industries. So you'll learn more about Nevro in just a moment, medical device manufacturer, but whether you're manufacturing medical devices, you manufacture industrial equipment, you're in telecommunications or communications, financial services, or even complex software as a service.

Veloce is a general purpose platform that was designed to solve these challenges. These CPQ challenges across multiple industries, and we've got companies using Veloce in all of these industries. Also important to know is Veloce was designed to work with Salesforce. So we are a Salesforce partner we're an ISV and Veloce is available on the Salesforce Appexchange.

Bryan, why don't you share a bit about Nevro and then we'll jump into the project that you just led.

About Nevro

Bryan Hix

Sure, thanks for inviting me, Joe. Nevro, as you said, is a medical device company. We're a global medical device company based in the San Francisco bay area.

And our category of product is, spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain. We have a unique therapy from our competitors, that is used to treat patients with chronic pain as well as patients that have painful diabetic neuropathy. We've got a large field force globally, what a typical medical device company would look like.

My role is the VP of commercial operations. And so I've got, the pricing and strategy team under me, the sales operations group, contract administration, and an analytics group and I am also the point person or the lead for all the commercial IT projects and requests that come through and I'm working very closely with IT on that.

Joe Parlett

Thank you for that. As I mentioned, this wasn't your first CPQ or quote-to-cash project that you've worked on, but why don't you tell us a bit about Nevro's initiative and what you guys were trying to accomplish?

About Nevro's CPQ initiative

Bryan Hix

Yeah. So I've been a Nevro for a couple years now. And when I first came in, we had grown very rapidly and, if folks have been in a rapidly growing company, obviously you have some foundational things that, that you've wanted to improve on.

Our price while we don't have a lot of products, there are some complexities to the pricing itself. One of the things that we noticed there are a lot of errors getting made in the field from sales folks trying to put together a pricing configuration. There's tax considerations, depending on the states, you're in things like that.

As well as just some errors that were getting made in the internal team. So all of that kind of put together and trying to figure out what you wanted to configure, with a pricing proposal. my goal was wanted to correct the errors. So we didn't have as many errors, increase efficiency, just the process of getting pricing approved through the system and back out to the field so they could get to their customers quickly and just increase the productivity on the internal side too.

There was a lot of things that we were having to do, and interject ourselves into that process, which just takes away from other things that our teams were doing. We also wanted to be seamlessly integrated into the Salesforce environment. So that was a consideration for sure that we were looking at.

And one of the things that we had, some customized objects within Salesforce, the quote being one of them that we wanted to get back to, more of an out of box solution. And so that was a, another requirement. And then at the end of the day, it's really being able to scale this solution as we grow.

Joe Parlett

Yeah, a lot of parallels to what you guys were trying to accomplish and others in your space. And as I mentioned earlier, across different industries. Now, as I mentioned earlier, you guys are now live. You went live, I think a couple of months ago, maybe. And and you're seeing some early results from the project. Can you share a little bit about what you guys are seeing?

Bryan Hix: Yeah. I mean, after the launch, I would say, we were prepared for some immediate efficiency gains and things like that, but I think until it happens, you're just not really sure. So, once we kind of got this off the ground, and the sales team was trained in using it, the first thing that we noticed that made me very happy was, we had immediately some quotes coming through in pricing, getting configured without any help from the pricing team.

So, there were a few high fives going around the room at that time. Like, Hey look, they actually did it and didn't need our help. So that was great. The other thing was, is internally, there were some things that we were having to do on a regular basis with every single quote or configuration that came in that was eliminated, completely by automating it with the Veloce CPQ tool. So, you know, pretty quickly the first week, we found our contracting team and our pricing team, all of a sudden was freed up with some things. So they weren't having to stop call a rep and say, did you mean to do this? Or, you know, I'm looking at this pricing or you forgot this thing.

And so that gave us back a lot of time immediately, which was great. I'm sure a lot of folks have teams that are stretched and it's just as ours were too. And so, any kind of time you can get back is, fantastic. So we noticed that right away, and the errors started going away immediately.

We have a ticketing system that we use internally, when there's, you know, pricing errors or things that are needed from the field. Those tickets went down dramatically after the first I'd say month. You know, there's some learning curves on some folks that came in, but for the most part, the things that we saw originally, having struggles around configuration discounting rebates, those kind of things that people were trying to set up went away pretty quickly. So that was a nice win right off the bat.

Joe Parlett

That's great. We love hearing that and yeah. But CPQ it's it's complex and the projects are complicated. Great results — we're super happy that the project was successful, that you're seeing these early results, but these projects, including yours are not trivial. Can you share with the audience a little bit about, and you having gone through this more than once, your suggestions and guidance on how folks can prepare and then execute a successful project.

How to prepare for a successful CPQ project

Bryan Hix

Sure. like you said, I've gone through this a couple times now and, so have other people on the team, so we've had some folks in IT and others, so people were familiar, whether it was a good taste or bad taste in their mouth with implementing some kind of CPQ solution before. When you're preparing for this, the number one thing to start off with is making sure you've got a good cross-functional team that you've assembled. And that everybody's one educated on what is a CPQ solution. Some people don't know what that is. So you've gotta kind of explain that and set the table for it.

The other thing too is just explaining what the business needs. Why do we need this tool? What's not working now ...So what does the business need and why are we all sitting here in this room talking about this potential solution? So that's kinda the first part, I'd say even before you get to that, is something that I've done at a few different companies is, mapping out, documenting your business process, you know, and in this case, a quote to cash process that is not just a commercial operations process, but it involves finance that involves invoicing services.

It involves, you know, potentially legal other things that are, that are other departments that are in this. So I think it's really important to make sure you have this documented. That folks understand what that process looks like currently and where there are gaps or where there's issues that you want to fix systematically or from a process perspective.

So that's kind of your foundation, right. Is make sure that everybody's on the same page of how do we do things now and what is the solution gonna do for us in the future? So that's probably step number one. If you haven't documented your business process, I would say stop for a second, go back and do that.

It might take you a little bit of time, but the project will go smoother if you know what your current state of your business process is. Making sure you have internal alignment, you know, do you have the resourcing that you're gonna need? Is everybody on the same page that, you know, you're gonna need help from other folks in the organization?

That's important, getting a sponsorship, obviously from the executive leadership, that this is something that we're, you know, we're all in, we're gonna work toward this, cuz you're gonna need that, that kind of cooperation and collaboration when it's started. Things like integration requirements, you know, if it's gonna involve your Salesforce team, obviously if it's something like this, you're gonna involve your it team.

Making sure that, you know, they've got a technical team that can support this from developers and other folks. Really also that you have, cross functionally when you start to build this out, you're gonna have subject matter experts, whether they're on your pricing team, your customer service, invoicing, team, finance, whatever, you need to involve them because they're not only gonna provide you insights into what requirements need to be had, but they're also gonna write help you write test scripts.

They're gonna be some of the testers. You need everybody kind of involved with that. So get that lined up ahead of time as well. Sort of along the same lines as business process, is getting your data, in order. And so what I mean by that is, if you don't have a CPQ solution now, and maybe you have some logic built into Salesforce or whatever you're using, it could be outside of the system completely.

Make sure that you understand what your logic is that you have built in. Why do you configure products a certain way? Why do you price them a certain way?. What we found was kind of interesting. And I can talk about this kind of as a learning, but, if you've got humans doing the configuration and sort of implementing rules, humans aren't perfect.

When you import data, what we found later on was the Veloce CPQ solution, and the logic behind that was doing what it's supposed to. But if you bring in bad data or maybe a pricing configuration, that was legacy, I'll say, and you're trying to work with that, the system gets confused, right? Cuz it's saying, well, you told me this logic and now this logic doesn't work.

And so you'll have some issues like that. So just keep it in mind. It's nothing I'd say is, is super important from the beginning, unless you're really messy, then that could be something that you wanna take a look at. But that is a consideration with the data when you import that in.

Team structure, you know, make sure again that you've got everybody lined up and part of the project and then really the big thing too is make sure you've got a project manager, make sure you've got a business analyst, a BA involved, and set up a good scope of this project. Give yourself a timeline that's realistic. You know, don't really create self inflicted problems for yourself, meaning that, you know, if you have a tight timeline, it is like any other project you've gotta give yourself some wiggle room and just be prepared that you're probably gonna have some unforeseen issues.

So don't make it such a tight timeline that you don't have breathing room for that. So that's, that's another thing I'd say as you're preparing for this.

Key takeaways

Joe Parlett

Great. So get the family in order, get everything in order invite as many people as you feel are needed. And because they're all gonna be touching this project, like you said, whether it's ERP. Finance. IT, compliance team, get them involved.

I've seen it so many times where somebody mid project or at some point in the project where it. Where it's later than it should have been says, Hey, what are you doing? How come you didn't include me? I need this. And I need that. And then it introduces challenges with the project. So very, very sound advice.

And then finally, what learnings can you share or key takeaways that, that you think would be beneficial for the audience?

Bryan Hix

Yeah, sure. So, You know, again, there's folks on our cross functional team that haven't been involved in these projects before. Lean on anybody that's got experience with it, right, good or bad, because you can make sure that you set up your project appropriately with that. I'll just tell you, some of these key takeaways are also learning things that I underestimated. We're a public company, so we have Sarbanes Oxley. We have SOX managers, we have outside auditors that we need to involve.

So if you're a public company, it's one thing to consider. Make sure if you've got an internal SOX team, that you work with, or you've got external auditors, you know, narratives that you need to update, just make sure you involve them early, cuz they're gonna want to know, Hey, what are we changing about this?

We are regulated. So they need to make sure that everything's good on that side. I think in my case I probably underestimated how much we needed to involve folks from that side. So, we had to do a little catch up at the end, which was fine, but my advice to folks that are part of a public company is make sure you, you involve those guys.

Again, we mentioned this before, but you're better off inviting more people to the table at the beginning, just to orient them to what this project is, because you might tease out some people that say exactly what you said before was, Hey, did you think about this? Or how are we gonna handle if this happens?

And that happened. There was things when the light bulb clicked on, I thought, oh shoot, I missed that. So, we had to kind of go back and make sure that was captured in the scope and in the requirements. So again, you can always drop people off later or they can just be informed as part of this project, but you're better off having more people at the beginning, involved and can weigh in on some of the things than not having them there.

Cross-functional review of the quote to cash process. Again, once you get your documentation, if you don't have it, for that business process, sit down and invite everybody again, that same group, that larger group to review and just say, Hey guys, here's what we have documented for this quote to cash process.

Are we missing anything? Does this sound right? Just make sure everybody can weigh in on that as well. It will make sense, cuz you're gonna go back to that process and say, okay, what did we change? Have we documented that and updated the business process? It's important to just level set with everybody with that.

Another thing, and obviously we're just coming out of, the whole COVID time period. You have to consider as part of this project or any other project, to be honest with you, people going on vacation, people getting sick and people leaving. So if you've got a tight team or you've got tight resources, make sure you have a backup plan for that.

Right? So, if you've got especially key people, whether it's a subject matter expert or it's a developer or somebody like that, make sure that you've got a backup plan. If something happens with that position. The other thing too is I would just say, make sure that folks are available even from time zones.

Right? We have global companies, you've got folks that might have to work on stuff that live in Europe or they. Elsewhere. They live in different parts of the United States. You know, when you're trying to get a team together and you're trying to work on something or test something, just coordinating those time zone differences too is important.

So just remember that as you're assembling your team, Again, a project manager is essential for something like this. It is cross functional. It can be smooth, but it also can be fairly complex. You've got multiple departments involved and other folks, so it's good to have a project manager, as well as a business analyst, like I mentioned earlier.

I keep saying this, I'll keep saying it again. It's with every single project, it's not unique to cPQ build in extra time and just make assumptions that something unforeseen will probably happen or come up. And if it is something that's simple as, Hey, somebody's on vacation.

At least you've got some cushion in there and you wanna make sure that you're not, stressing the team out by it being unrealistic on your time. And then, the last thing really, is just making sure that you've got very good alignment, not only with your vendor partner and implementation partner, your internal teams on the launch itself, the training around that.

And don't underestimate the training with internal teams. You know, everybody kind of thinks about this as a Salesforce thing. Like, Hey, our, our sales team needs to understand how to do a quote and configure things, which is true, but you also need to consider other folks within the organization, whether, the invoicing team, you know, what if they have to go back and credit and rebuild something for a customer, how does that look? How do you do that within CPQ? So things like that you have to consider, and build that into your testing. The last thing too is just making sure that you circle back.

Make sure that what you had originally thought you wanted to do for the scope and the focus of the project is being met. If you meet all those things and you have a successful launch, just make sure to celebrate at the end. You know, I mean, that's one of, that's important to, to make sure that folks that you've developed this for not only internally and externally. Give some feedback and, we want to check and make sure that it's not only immediately fulfilled something, but down the line six months, a year out, Hey, is everybody still happy with this tool? Anything that we need to know about? So, you know, make sure that there's sort of sort of a post project follow up as well.

Joe Parlett

Yeah, continually measure the results and celebration certainly important, especially within an achievement like this. As I said, these projects are not trivial, but this guidance is helpful. Be prepared and expect the unexpected because surprises are gonna happen. And I love the suggestion to give yourself enough time and don't have the timeline so tight that you can't afford any misstep. Because surprises will occur.

So thank you. This has been super helpful. I think for anybody that listens to this, that is contemplating a project like this, I think they'll get a lot from your experience. I appreciate that. If you want to reach Bryan, here's his contact information. Mine is there as well, and we appreciate your time.

Thank you.

Bryan Hix

Thank you.

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