IBM cuts time required to create price quotes for clients by 75 percent

Cross-brand solutions team creates scalable web-based BPM solution with IBM WebSphere software

Published on 26-Apr-2012

"Our previous cross-brand pricing solution just didn’t give us the agility or flexibility we needed. Using WebSphere software, we created an agile and scalable system that has automated workflows and can adapt to policy and price changes within a few days with governance, which is critical to achieving our revenue target plans." - Bobby Atwal, program director, IBM Software Group, cross-brand solution pre-sales

Customer:
IBM cross-brand solutions team

Industry:
Computer Services

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Business Process Management (BPM)

Overview

A global computer products, services and solutions company based in the United States, IBM operates in more than 170 countries and has nearly 427,000 employees. With thousands of business partners and computer products suppliers worldwide, IBM generates more than USD99 billion in annual revenue. The company was founded in 1911 in Endicott, New York.

Business need:
The IBM cross-brand solutions team wanted to improve the efficiency of its processes to help reduce the time required to make policy changes and price updates, and come up with price quotes for clients.

Solution:
The team created a scalable, web-based business process management (BPM) solution using IBM WebSphere® software. The solution is flexible, scalable and improves visibility into KPIs.

Benefits:
The solution has helped automate the end-to-end process and workflow, resulting in a significant improvement in the time required to make price updates and business rule changes.

Case Study

A global computer products, services and solutions company based in the United States, IBM operates in more than 170 countries and has nearly 427,000 employees. With thousands of business partners and computer products suppliers worldwide, IBM generates more than USD99 billion in annual revenue. The company was founded in 1911 in Endicott, New York.

Seeking greater efficiency, flexibility

The IBM cross-brand solutions team wanted to improve the efficiency of its process for creating price quotes for clients. The team had been using spreadsheets to track the prices of the various solution components, but this method made it difficult to quickly give clients the quotes they needed. In fact, it could take between four and 14 days to come up with a quote, depending on the complexity of the configuration of the solution the client requested.

The team recognized that there were several fundamental flaws in its existing process. For example, prices and business rules were hard-coded into the individual systems of the solution components, and therefore, teams were dependent on IT resources to make changes. As a result, it could take weeks to perform price updates and update business rules. Even worse, once these changes were made, it could take up to four weeks to deploy the updates to other countries.

The team sought to improve its:
● Business agility
● Ability to quickly deliver price quotes to customers
● Visibility into key performance indicators (KPIs)
● Visibility into existing business rules
● Ability to update discount rules by business analysts
● Ability to comply with audits
● Process flexibility
● Integration with other related processes

By making these improvements, the team ultimately hoped to make it easier to sell cross-brand solutions, and therefore improve the sales of cross-brand solutions.

Creating a scalable, web-based BPM solution

The IBM cross-brand solutions team created a scalable, web-based business process management (BPM) solution using IBM software to significantly reduce cycle time for the end-to-end price quotation and approval process for cross-brand solutions from IBM.

The solution is based on IBM WebSphere® Application Server, IBM WebSphere Operational Decision Management, and IBM Business Process Manager software, along with the IBM DB2® database. WebSphere Operational Decision Management software enables the team to create and store business rules. Business Process Manager software provides process design and modeling, workflow automation, and process monitoring capabilities.

Reducing reliance on IT to increase flexibility

Using the new BPM solution, business analysts can now manage business rules, make process changes and deploy the pricing system to new countries in days, instead of weeks. The solution allows salespeople to quickly create and secure approvals, so they can deliver price quotes to clients in a timely and efficient manner. “Our previous cross-brand pricing solution just didn’t give us the agility or flexibility we needed,” says Bobby Atwal, program director, IBM Software Group, cross-brand solution pre-sales. “Using WebSphere software, we created an agile and scalable system that has automated workflows and can adapt to policy and price changes within a few days with governance, which is critical to achieving our revenue target plans.”

While the team’s previous price quote process was rigid and inflexible, the new system is flexible and collaborative. Salespeople can now use a single tool to generate a proposal, submit it to other groups, and quickly make changes to pricing and quotes. Plus, these quotes are stored in a security-rich environment with role-based access control, making them more auditable and traceable. And using Business Process Manager software, the team has access to dashboards that provide visibility into transaction volumes, showing where the process is most efficient or inefficient, therefore allowing the team to respond quickly to alleviate backlogs. The scalable solution is currently being used by sellers in 32 countries.

Meeting sales targets more easily

The team anticipates that it will be able to use the solution to more easily meet its sales targets. For example, let’s say it’s the end of the sales quarter and the team needs to make additional sales to meet its revenue targets. Brand executives can use the new solution to analyze previous sales quotes and make more strategic decisions on discounts. This discount can be quickly communicated to sales, marketing and cross-brand pricing teams, as well as to a business analyst who can update the business rules to make the discount available. Sales teams can then create promotional proposals without the need for additional approvals, minimizing the lag between decision and implementation. Salespeople can then use the discounted pricing to boost sales and met their revenue targets.

In summary, benefits of the new solution include:
● Reducing the time required to provide a price quote to clients by 75 percent
● Decreasing the amount of time required to make price updates and business rule changes from weeks to hours
● Adding end-to-end automation of workflow
● Shortening the time required to deploy updates to new countries by 80 percent and improving audit compliance via better versioning of business rules and role-based access control
● Delivering dashboards that give stakeholders greater visibility into key metrics

For more information

To learn more about how IBM WebSphere software can help your organization, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit: ibm.com/websphere

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
IBM Business Process Manager Standard, DB2 for Linux, UNIX and Windows, WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Operational Decision Management

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A Produced in the United States of America April 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and WebSphere are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. Other product, company or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at "Copyright and trademark information" at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates.The performance data discussed herein is presented as derived under specific operating conditions. Actual results may vary. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation. WSC14395-USEN-00