The global research publishing and information analytics provider Elsevier has implemented Conga Contracts for Salesforce to manage its quote to cash processes better. Elsevier is a global information analytics company that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance. It has 8,000 employees and publishes 470,000 articles across around 2,700 academic journals. The company has grown through acquisition in recent years, recently acquiring Osmosis.org, an innovative digital health education platform.
The organisation’s quote to cash systems had become disjointed after multiple acquisitions. Its objective was to create a solution that would provide a seamless set of steps from the quote preparation by the sales team through the proposal stage to payments for the services sold. With new acquisitions and global differences, complex and often manual processes had emerged.
Matt Cumberlidge, Head of Quote to Cash programme at Elsevier, explained saying: “The fragmented quote-to-cash process was resulting in version control issues, contract mistakes, long processing times and a lack of insight into contract status. Our sales team would have to step outside the Salesforce CPQ system to complete their work, which was adding turnaround time to the contract lifecycle. This was ultimately impacting customer satisfaction and was being flagged as an issue in our surveys.”
Choosing Conga Contracts for Salesforce
The search for a solution began in 2019. The project team considered five different solutions, including DocuSign, which Elsevier already used for its eSignature solution. After two rounds, Elsevier selected Conga Contracts for Salesforce.
The key reason for the decision was that the solution already looked and felt like Salesforce, as it is built on the Force.com platform. This familiarity with the CRM solution already in place across Elsevier would help with adoption.
A spokesperson noted: “As the global standard, it was important that any CLM (contract lifecycle management) solution seamlessly fits into Elsevier’s existing way of working and felt like an organic expansion of capability, rather than a new technology. In addition, Elsevier found that Conga truly felt like a partner that it could work, grow and build with on a long-term engagement. Conga was a strong cultural fit for Elsevier, and it had confidence and trust in Conga’s ability to deliver. “
The implementation project started in August 2020. The intent was to connect all the independent customer-centric tasks that the sales team had been doing manually. By August 2021, and as part of a larger Salesforce deployment, the QTC process was live for 500 users in three business units and multiple geographies, including EMEA, North America and Asia-Pacific (China).
During the rollout, the biggest challenge was working through the changing roles and responsibilities for the different teams involved in the contracting process. Conga and Elsevier overcame that through a series of process design workshops guided by design principles that put the customer first.
With the Quote to Cash solution in place, the Elsevier sales team can now complete the whole quotation and proposal process without leaving the Salesforce environment. There is better governance over the whole process, with an audit trail and version control for proposals held within Salesforce.
Once installed, the contract creation time has reduced from days to hours. Elsevier has saved on overall turnaround time for the contracting process. It was unable to calculate how many man-hours it saved. That would have been a useful KPI for the project to calculate the return on investment. It appears as though Conga did not benchmark the process time at the start of the engagement.
That decrease in negotiation time is important as Elsevier’s customers appreciate getting the contract in their hands as quickly as possible once they agree to a quote. Its global customer base, universities and independent researchers across the pharmaceutical and life science community, can now sign up and access vital sources far more efficiently, maximising their research and development opportunities.
The Conga solution has also eased the burden on the legal department. With tracking changes down to clause level, the team can quickly approve or suggest alternate pre-approved clauses for insertion. It enables the sales team to focus on the engagement rather than the legal. It is a major factor in reducing time to signature.
Cumberlidge added: “Our customers were at the forefront of our mind when selecting a technology solution. Our aim was to get contracts into the hands of our customers within 24 hours – Conga has enabled us to achieve that goal. In recent months, we’ve also faced the added pressure of the current pandemic forcing our sales team to work remotely. However, the online, seamless workflow of the Conga Contracts for Salesforce solution has enabled our business to continue operating as normal, while maintaining compliance.”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
Elsevier is a significant win for Conga as it seeks to emerge as a leading provider CLM and QTC. That Elsevier chose Conga Contracts for Salesforce primarily because it is built on the Force.com platform is worth noting. That familiarity with the UX and that Elsevier will already have Salesforce Admins in place shows Conga’s strength in the platform play.
Lee Mills, Director of Customer Success EMEA at Conga, commented: “Businesses will often find after a significant period of growth that it will add complexity to their contract lifecycle. With the right technology solutions that help to streamline businesses processes, that complexity can be drastically reduced. We are delighted that we have been able to support Elsevier in its project to transform its contract lifecycle, leveraging both Conga and Salesforce – the results speak for themselves.”
Those results are impressive. Conga will hopefully be able to create a case study around the implementation and subsequent results. There will be other multinational companies with similar challenges using the Salesforce platform. They will be interested in finding out more.