Pitney Bowes aims to continue its rapid global growth—but over half of its orders required time-consuming manual reviews, limiting its ability to process and fulfill additional orders in a timely way.
The company replaced paper-based order configuration, pricing and quoting with a standardized, digital approach—enhancing accuracy and cutting the need for manual reviews on complex configurations.
93%of orders configured, priced and quoted without the need for a manual review
<1-dayorder fulfillment achieved with accurate, timely quote data
Helpsfulfill incremental orders more effectively and drive growth
Business challenge story
Preparing for growth
Pitney Bowes delivers technology services and solutions that help the enterprise run smoothly. To drive its global growth, the company is expanding its offering, which ranges from mailing and shipping solutions to software-as-a-service products for e-commerce and customer engagement.
Jenine Johnson, Director of Sales Operations at Pitney Bowes, explains: “We typically receive hundreds of orders every day. Because we deliver so many different products across a large number of geographies, most of these orders are customized for the specific local requirements of the client. An organization based in North America needs a different type of solution than a client in Europe, for example, and larger clients may require more software licenses than smaller clients.”
Michael Cinguina, Director of IT Sales Originations at Pitney Bowes, continues: “Because we offer so many possible product configurations, our pricing process is complex. In the past, our sales personnel relied on printed price books and spreadsheet-based systems to prepare quotes on paper—but this way of working presented challenges.
“In addition to increasing the time required to create quotes, manual processes introduced the risk of product pricing and configuration errors. As a result, we had to review most quotes and agree on any changes with the client—a time-consuming process on both sides that could take as long as three working days. And to place the order, our back-office team had to manually re-key the data from the quote into one of many separate billing and order entry systems, depending on the business unit where the sale originated.”
To offer more responsive client services and support its global growth, Pitney Bowes embarked on a company-wide initiative to standardize its processes and systems across the order lifecycle. To drive its digital transformation, the company looked for strategic partners.
“From the client perspective, we want to deliver a consistent experience on any channel, anywhere in the world,” adds Cinguina. “From the internal perspective, the aim is to increase our back-office efficiency and scalability, which is especially important as we continue to expand our product portfolio and increase our volume of daily orders. To achieve our goals, we looked for a way to automate our quote-to-order processes.”
Automating the quoting process
As part of a wider transformation project, Pitney Bowes selected IBM Sterling Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ)—an automated, rules-driven platform that empowers sales teams to select the right products at the correct price for each customer.
“We wanted a strategic solution to help us standardize our products and pricing structures globally—and IBM Sterling CPQ delivered exactly what we needed,” recalls Johnson. “As well as supporting region- and client- specific pricing and discounts, the solution is scalable—enabling us to support hundreds of thousands of quotes every year across our worldwide business.”
Cinguina comments: “Another important reason for choosing IBM Sterling CPQ was the ease of integration with our websphere commerce solution, order management, employee compensation and leasing platforms. We knew that avoiding the need to swivel between systems to re-key data would enable us to increase our efficiency dramatically.
Working together with its system integration partner Accenture, and a team from IBM, Pitney Bowes mapped out standardized processes for quoting, fulfillment and billing, and determined the optimal way to integrate IBM Sterling CPQ into the workflow.
“As a first step, we standardized our product naming conventions and data definitions, and then designed the necessary data models in IBM Sterling CPQ to support the new way of working,” says Cinguina. “Today, we have more than 100 models across our hardware, software and cloud business units, which determine the correct pricing for each offering based on each client’s region and contract. The migration process has been a great success. The solution is already live across North America, and we are now preparing to extend the platform to users in Europe and Asia.”
In parallel to its migration process, Pitney Bowes is planning to integrate its IBM Sterling CPQ solution with its e-commerce website, based on websphere commerce.
“We offer pre-packaged solution bundles on our website in some geographies—but in the past, building the necessary pricing models and back-end integrations to launch a new product to the web was a complex process,” explains Johnson. “We are now building pricing models for our web team in CPQ, which will help us bring pre-packaged offerings to market faster. Ultimately, our goal is to use IBM Sterling CPQ as a configuration engine for our e-commerce site: offering advanced self-service capabilities across our entire product portfolio.”
Improving accuracy, delivering faster
Over the last year, people across Pitney Bowes’ North America business team have used IBM Sterling CPQ to generate hundreds of thousands of highly accurate quotes, including inside sales, field sales and business partners.
“Checking quotes manually is now a thing of the past,” says Johnson. “Because practically every seller in our North America business is now generating quotes based on a single, standardized set of business rules, the configurations and pricing structures in the vast majority of our quotes are now dependably accurate.”
Cinguina continues: “We are now measuring dramatic improvements in efficiency across all our business units. For example, one business unit has seen their number of right-first-time orders shoot up by 15 percent. Although some quotes are more complex than others and therefore require special attention, today 93 percent of all our quotes require no downstream changes.”
By replacing paper-based processes with digital workflows, Pitney Bowes can close deals and ship orders faster than ever.
“Once we generate a contract in CPQ, we can send it to the client for approval via an automatic integration with our Sertifi eSignature system,” Johnson explains. “When the client has signed the quote, CPQ releases the order instantly—which enables us to ship out orders very quickly.
“In one case, our inside sales team successfully quoted, secured approval and shipped an order within just two hours. We’ve even seen six-figure orders going out in the last four hours of a financial quarter, which has a big impact on our bottom line—and that kind of responsiveness simply wouldn’t have been possible with our previous way of working.”
By embracing global standards for product configuration and pricing, Pitney Bowes is slashing its time-to-market for campaigns.
“Previously, it could take our North America marketers as long as eight weeks to build and launch a pricing promotion,” says Cinguina. “Today, we can help our marketers build the logic for a campaign in CPQ in a matter of hours, and then test and launch the new pricing rules in as little as one week. Our sales personnel can see the campaigns that each client is eligible for instantly, and our marketing team can measure the campaign’s conversion rate in real time.”
Johnson adds: “Our solution makes it easier for our sellers to identify the best bundles and pricing options for individual clients, which helps them create compelling up- and cross-selling opportunities. We predict we will see further benefits as we continue our worldwide rollout.”
With IBM Sterling CPQ driving global standards across its organization, Pitney Bowes is in a strong position to drive its growth.
“The back-office efficiencies we’re gaining with IBM Sterling CPQ are helping us to process more orders with less effort—enabling us to grow the business,” concludes Cinguina. “We see that the more accurately and intelligently we can automate our processes, the better the service we can offer to our clients. By continuing our close collaboration with IBM, we’re on the right path to achieve just that.”
Pitney Bowes (NYSE:PBI) is a global technology company powering billions of transactions—physical and digital—in the connected and borderless world of commerce. Clients around the world, including 90 percent of the Fortune 500, rely on products, solutions, services and data from Pitney Bowes in the areas of customer information management, location intelligence, customer engagement, shipping, mailing, and global e-commerce. And with the innovative Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, clients can access the broad range of Pitney Bowes solutions, analytics, and APIs to drive commerce.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Sterling CPQ, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website:
Accenture is an IBM Premier Business Partner and the world's largest systems integrator for IBM technology. To learn more, visit: accenture.com/gb-en/ibm-technologies