When you’re a company as complex as Motorola Mobility, and you want a more comprehensive view into your financials, what do you do? Chad Pratt, Motorola Mobility’s Senior Business Analyst IT Sales, turned to Salesforce and the AppExchange to help. In the latest AppExchange Connected Leaders interview, Chad shares how Apttus X-Author for Excel — a data management app available on the AppExchange — helped his team better leverage Excel in the Salesforce platform in order to get greater visibility into Motorola’s profit margins.
Salesforce: Tell us about your background.
Chad Pratt: I’ve been with Motorola Mobility for 18 years, working in various capacities from a manufacturing Test Engineer to Go-To-Market Six Sigma Black Belt and most recently as the IT lead for Go-To-Market, supporting the sales, marketing, and legal teams.
SF: What specific business challenges led to your relationship with Apttus?
CP: We wanted to ensure we were achieving our desired margins. In our deal reviews at the time, the financial components were primarily the price, discount, and average product cost. This gave us the expected revenue, but the profit margins were inaccurate. Key cost elements — such as free product (for retail swap stock or sales reps), extended warranty, extended payment terms, order lead time, and variations in product configurations — were not sufficiently accounted for in the financials. We knew that using spreadsheets to calculate those elements would be complicated, because the business logic that worked well in a spreadsheet would be difficult to replicate in Salesforce. In addition, spreadsheets alone were not practical due to the amount of data entry. We wanted a solution that automated and integrated the existing deal solution we already had in Salesforce.
SF: What was your aha moment?
CP: Why not just leverage the capabilities of both Salesforce and Excel? The majority of the necessary inputs was already included in the deal in Salesforce, and could be exported to Excel. Once the data was in Excel, a hidden worksheet and macros performed the calculations and then displayed the results on a visible worksheet. The user could then save the results back to Salesforce, and continue with the deal process. X-Author leveraged the Salesforce and Excel environments that our users were already familiar with, and merged their individual strengths. Once we saw what Apttus’ X-Author Excel was capable of, we knew it was a perfect fit for us, and now we use Excel as a calculation engine for Salesforce.
SF: Tell us about the results you’ve achieved so far using Apttus X-Author.
CP: We wanted a quick-win solution in six to eight weeks. X-Author enabled two of our IT resources (one admin and one developer) to deliver a prototype in two weeks, and then deploy the solution to production just a few weeks later.
Now deals include a quantified financial impact of several cost components that were previously unaccounted for financially. The initial results show, on average, 2% of eroded margin that we did not previously have visibility to in deals. This will help in making better data-driven decisions in the deal review, and ultimately will lead to increased margins.
SF: What three pieces of advice would you give to peers facing similar growth challenges?
1 - If you can’t write it down, you can’t build it. Our challenge was all in theory, but talking about it and walking through real life scenarios helped us vet the requirements before we went off and started solutioning. Before you can digitize or build anything, you should be able to write it on a sheet of paper, hand it off to someone, and walk them through the process.
2 - Work with your business partners to establish and understand the long-term strategy. This will help make sure that all activity is focused on providing incremental improvements, while keeping with the big picture and long-term strategy.
3 - Use a documented business process landscape or framework. This ties everything together and helps organize your functional areas and related processes. A picture is worth a thousand words and this will help everyone understand the key processes for their areas within the company.
Chad's Favorite AppExchange Apps
2 - GridBuddy
3 - Groove
The AppExchange Connected Leaders Series features conversations with forward-thinking Salesforce customers and leaders in their fields who solved a complex business challenge with an AppExchange app.