Business Analysts (or simply “BA”) are big picture problem solvers. In the world of hyper-specialization, where individual stakeholders usually hold only a few pieces of the puzzle, the BA focuses on seeing how everything works together. In order to get that big picture, the BA should be involved in every phase of the program.
And when it comes to Salesforce CPQ & Billing, a BA with expertise in the tool is going to accelerate quote-to-cash success. Unless the BA has prior knowledge of the tool, as well as hands-on configuration experience, they’ll be facing a steep learning curve. That can lead to a lot of headaches that could have been avoided. And it’s going to slow down implementation.
That’s why Original Shift has invested in hiring Salesforce Savvy Business Analysts. A BA with expertise in the Salesforce tool is going to improve the accuracy and speed of implementation.
Let’s talk more about the 5 benefits of working with a Salesforce Savvy BA:
1. Bridging the Gap Between Current & Future State
The BA is the Functional Architect leading discovery. This role’s responsibilities break down into three broad areas:
- Paint a clear picture of the company’s existing process,
- Establish the parameters of the proposed new tool, and
- Build out a plan to bridge the gap between old and new.
Following the old adage that you can’t get where you want to go until you know where you’re coming from, the BA kicks off the project by gaining an intimate understanding of the current business process and the pain points associated with it. (Pain points are a critical part of this analysis because you’re going to want to neutralize the most acute ones as early as possible.)
The second area is where technical knowledge pays big dividends early: to build the most value into the proposed tool, the BA needs to not only understand a customer’s existing quoting and billing systems, but the capabilities of Salesforce CPQ & Billing. Whatever goes into the final process – Sales Cloud, CPQ, Billing – the BA will need more than a passing familiarity with every aspect to make informed decisions regarding the transition.
This kind of dual-clarity in terms of understanding both the current model as well as the product that is going to replace it, further empowers the BA to make realistic promises and recommendations to stakeholders. They know the capabilities of Salesforce: what it can and can’t do, from what is available out of the box to what will require custom development. This knowledge equips the BA to steer the stakeholders with confidence: saving them time, money, and future maintenance costs.
2. Accurately Capture User Stories
Anyone who has been involved in a software implementation project knows that good user stories don’t just happen. To write a good user story, you have to understand Salesforce: when you need to give the developer guidance on permissions, page layouts, record types, etc. Add in CPQ & Billing, and you need even more specific knowledge to create a complete user story. For example, you need the expertise to instruct the developers on how to set up and test the invoice schedulers, how to implement usage products using consumption schedules, or whether or not a validation should be a product rule or a validation rule.
It gets complicated fast.
Original Shift’s BAs hold more upfront technical knowledge. That reduces both the back and forth between the developer and the BA, and the chance that the BA will have to go back to stakeholders to ask “just one more question” for each user story.
Less back and forth means more efficiency. More efficiency means stories get built faster, while also increasing the likelihood of doing the job right the first time. All of this helps ensure that you deliver CPQ & Billing successfully – and even better – on time and with confidence.
Armed with all the necessary information, the Solution Architect (“SA”) can finalize the technical design and build in tentative sprints for each of these stories. Before every sprint, the BA will work with the SA to make sure that every user story has sufficient detail and clear acceptance criteria for the SA to design it, as well as sufficient functional detail for a developer to build it.
All of this helps ensure that you deliver CPQ & Billing successfully – and even better – on time and with confidence.
3. Test Stories, Demo Functionality
Once you’ve built your stories, the BA tests each one to make sure they meet the acceptance criteria. Obviously, a BA unfamiliar with Salesforce could learn to test, but that’s going to take time. The process is much less painful if the BA already knows exactly how to use Salesforce and is familiar with what “gotchas” to look for when testing. The more technical the BA, the more likely they will catch a small error before it becomes a defect, reducing pain in the long run.
After a successful test, the BA can demo stories to stakeholders to solicit feedback. Demoing functionality to stakeholders with confidence and competence will encourage stakeholder confidence in the new tool. It will also save the developers time during the feedback phase, as the BA will be able to field questions and educate stakeholders on their own, leaving the developers out of the conversation until there is a need to build something new.
4. Review Test Scripts
BAs are often responsible for reviewing test scripts for system integration testing (“SIT”), end-to-end testing (“e2e”), and user acceptance testing (“UAT”). If they don’t know how to use Salesforce at a click-by-click level, they will not be able to effectively approve or reject test scripts. If they are learning how to use the tool on the go, while also reviewing test scripts, there is a higher likelihood that they will make an error and cause unnecessary defects, wasting valuable development and testing time. Additionally, a BA on the project will have the big picture knowledge from user story to test script. That’s why Original Shift’s Salesforce Savvy BAs have the expertise to effectively review a test script at the functional level while understanding the big picture business reason behind it.
5. Support User Training
The Salesforce Savvy BA possesses all of the business context and a mastery of how the new tool works, providing them with the most intimate knowledge of what is delivered in any CPQ & Billing program. That means they are equipped for a broad support role.
Not every CPQ & Billing program contains a training workstream, though we highly recommend that all programs, regardless of size, implement one. The BA shouldn’t be in charge of this effort because it will take them away from focusing on testing and defect management – which ensures the quality of build. Still, they can help enable the training and change management team. They teach the training team what has changed and what potential challenges users may face with trickier pieces of functionality.
With CPQ & Billing, training and enablement are absolutely critical to the success of deploying the tool because these functions are at the core of the business’ day-to-day operations. BAs need to be able to review training content and clearly explain to trainers (often with little to no familiarity with Salesforce) how to train end users. This process goes much more smoothly when the BA has expertise in Salesforce.
The BA role remains important throughout mock cutovers, go-live, and post go-live support. They continue to support the program by classifying defects, smoke testing deployments to help the developers, and providing input to help define the roadmap for future releases.
How Should This Shift Your Thinking?
A Business Analyst with CPQ certification, Billing Superbadge, or prior hands-on configuration experience brings a lot of value to the implementation. They serve as a critical liaison between the business and the implementation team: understanding the breadth of the needs and goals of the business they represent as well as the capabilities of the tool.
In general, we recommend that an Enterprise customer moving forward with a CPQ & Billing implementation have BAs to achieve the highest level of success. Even the smallest implementations or tune-up projects should include a half-time BA.
Having a key player like this involved smooths out the process, increases efficiency, and boosts stakeholder confidence. And that gets the value of the technology and the collective teams’ hard work out faster, so the business can get to doing what it wanted to do when it decided to invest in Salesforce: selling more.