My Favorite News in CPQ Updates: SAP CPQ 2105, 2108, and beyond
You may have noticed that I did not publish a blog for the 2105 release. That was intentional after I read the release notes and concluded that trying to summarize the highlights for an entire release is no longer practical. It isn’t that new releases don’t contain a wealth of valuable new features and fixes; in fact, it is the opposite.
There are so many disparate new developments that it is difficult to explain general themes or use cases. I assume that this is a function of the Customer Influence Program that SAP introduced with the 2105 release. This program provides a forum for customers to propose and vote on those topics that provide the most business benefit. As a result, much of the release news is now very context specific, and readers would need a lot more background if I were to explain what this news means to them.
Therefore this will be the last blog in this series. I plan to continue blogging on the major developments in CPQ, but those blogs will be more theme-based as opposed to release-based. In fact, I will use this blog to give you a flavor for those theme-based blogs to come.
SAP Billing and Revenue Innovation Management (a.k.a. BRIM) is a key enabler to the ever-expanding service and software-based economy. BRIM is brimming (pun intended) with functionality to design, sell, deliver, and bill these recurring revenue solutions. Nearly all our customers is looking at ways to monetize and manage the value-added services and software they can offer to complement their products.
It is very difficult to quote recurring revenue solutions in CPQ applications that are designed for the one-time sale of products. In fact, this has been a growing challenge in SAP system landscapes over the last few years. With the integration of BRIM and CPQ, SAP has provided a very robust and competitive solution to this challenge. You may have noticed that BRIM related features have been part of every CPQ release since 2102. I expect that to continue. Watch for a separate blog on BRIM with CPQ that I plan to publish in 2022.
Quote 2.0 is the improved quote engine that has been available since June 2018. This new quote engine was developed to transform SAP CPQ into state-of-the-art software that allows users to create large quotes more quickly and easily than in Quote 1.0. Quote 2.0 provides some game changing functionality that includes solution design, quote teams and permissions, rolled up and reverse calculations, and better filtering options. Quote 2.0 is the future of SAP CPQ and will continue to evolve with each CPQ release.
Many of the best features listed in quarterly release notes are available exclusively with Quote 2.0. The differences in the two engines are described in Quote 1.0 vs Quote 2.0 - Feature Differences in the online help. Note that migration from Quote 1.0 to 2.0 is a one-way process that entails various impacts on existing data, scripts, and more that requires proper planning and execution. eLogic has been using Quote 2.0 since the 2105 release and is currently delivering a customer proof of concept project. I am planning to publish a blog on our findings in 2022.
Variant Configuration and Pricing
The native integration of SAP CPQ with Variant Configuration and Pricing microservices on the Business Technology Platform truly sets SAP’s solution apart from its competitors. See my blog series on this topic for a detailed explanation of this game changing integration. As stated in that blog series, variant configuration and pricing are such nuanced topics that the integration to CPQ will necessarily need to evolve as more and more deployments identify key gaps shared by numerous customers.
Each new CPQ release has introduced new integration features and resolved various support issues. In addition, powerful new settings are being introduced on a regular basis that improve the efficiency and flexibility of setting up the integration. For example, Pricing Procedure mapping was introduced in the 2105 release that enables mapping of quote fields to pricing conditions without scripting. I will continue to review quarterly releases and periodically add new blogs to native integration series.
By now, we all know that new CPQ releases come quarterly. We know that we need to watch for breaking changes and test our deployments to ensure that no unforeseen issues arise after the new release. Well, issues do arise. And they are not always caught before releases are deployed in production. As a result, we all need to watch for hot fix deployments also.
The 2105 release had the highest number of hot fixes (8) that I have seen so far. I can understand this since 2105 contained a significant amount of new functionality across a wide range of topics. How can you know when a hot fix has been applied? First, you can subscribe to the blogs on the CPQ Forum in the Callidus Community. You then get email messages like this one.
Second, you can simply keep an eye on the bottom of your CPQ login screen as shown below.
One important difference between releases and hot fixes is that releases are always deployed in sandbox environments first and then in production environments two weeks later. Hot fixes may be deployed in all environments at once or there may be a smaller period between sandbox and production environments. The best advice is to keep an eye out for hot fix announcements.
Why do you need to pay attention? First, a new hot fix may have corrected an issue that you reported to SAP. Second, unfortunately hot fixes can sometimes inadvertently introduce other new issues. We have seen situations where a feature was working fine and then suddenly stopped working even though we made no changes. We noticed that the issue appeared right after a recent hot fix, so we reported the new issue to SAP. SAP promptly created another hot fix to correct it.
The world of cloud application releases and hot fixes can be unnerving for those who are accustomed to on premises applications. They may feel a loss of control over when and how updates are deployed. To them I say, this is the price of rapid innovation. The reality is that innovation in cloud applications far outpaces that of on premises applications for the very reason that it is a continual and concerted effort between application vendors, their customers, and their partners. There are never more than the latest two versions of the application to consider for design and testing purposes.