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How to Easily Create Proposals for Large-Scale Networking Projects

Over the past few years, VARs have been experiencing the need to keep up with the rapid growth in the size of and complexity of networking projects.

This continuous growth in demand for large-scale networking projects is great news for VARs. However, larger projects mean higher complexities. 

VARs are forced to assess, design, and deploy on an entirely new level.

The growing adoption rate of digital infrastructure and acceleration of IoT in all industries and sectors are creating a need to adapt quickly and automate some of the most time-consuming operations. 

Creating error-free proposals with a quick turn-around rate is a top priority for VARs who need to meet deadlines on time. 

Automated processing of all quoting and pricing related operations can save many days of tedious and error-prone work that often creates even more work. 

Reviewing, approving, all take up precious time for salespeople, engineers, quoting teams, and operation managers, who all need to come together to get quotes out the door as soon as possible. 

The proper automated tools in place, are invaluable to ICT VARs who want to take part in the golden era of large networking projects. 

How can your business easily simplify the most time-consuming tasks and boost your business forward with ease?  

We’ll get to the answer right away, alongside a few examples of the major challenges that VARs endure during the quoting process. 

For this article, we’re using the example of a Networking Project with Cisco as a perfect example of those complexities.

Let’s talk about these challenges with a quick breakdown with the answers on how to solve them.

 

Challenge #1: Complex Bills of Materials

Large networking projects with Cisco can include thousands of items. Each item incorporates a multi-level hierarchy and structure of those products with all of its variations. 

As networking projects are becoming more complex to deploy, the BoMs are becoming more complex as well. This is because networking products themselves have become much more complex. 

These products typically include multi-level hierarchies of the configuration with a mix of components that vary between hardware, software, cables, subscriptions, services and more. 

From the quoting aspect, it’s critical to maintain the structures of the product hierarchies, while combining single BoMs (often from multiple sources) into one aggregated quote with the precise structure as in the original BoMs.  

Merging BoMs complicates the process substantially, needing to copy and paste, as well as losing easy visibility into the components of the items while quoting. As well as difficulty attributing which data should be grouped together. It can often seem and feel like an endless cycle.

How can you solve these problems that are involved in quoting complex BoMs?

  • Deploying a quoting solution that can consume all of your configuration’s data, at any scale that’s needed, enabling 30,000+ lines, easily
  • By utilizing a quoting tool that can easily combine multiple BoMs into one, aggregated quote, while maintaining the structures of your original configurations, no matter how long or complex 
  • Ensure beautifully organized quotes to promise quicker approvals. Classify your products by category so all stakeholders can easily understand the products and details being quoted. For example; hardware, software, and professional services, subscriptions renewals (CCWR), without losing the hierarchy of your configuration as you categorize
  • Apply filters and actions such as pricing, markups, discounts per category, margins, VIP rebates, and other actions, for quick processing of your choice

Getting quotes out the door is always a top priority for VARs. Working under pressure without a tool to automate these applications means that people are under pressure to complete these functions.

This only exasperates the risk of human error along the way, especially when creating proposals for large networking projects.  

To significantly ease most of that pressure, eliminating all copy & paste operations and adopting a quoting tool that can preserve the configurations’ data’s integrity, is key in reducing the time spent on creating the proposal.

 

Challenge # 2: Integrations

Integrations are extremely important when planning large projects. Without the proper integrations in place, copy & paste operations are almost inevitable. These operations set you up for errors, and inefficient workflows, and delaying the goal of getting your quote out the door, ASAP.  It becomes even more challenging when the customer requests any changes in the BoM, and now you’re facing / the question becomes, do I do the pricing work from scratch, or find the place in the quote that has to be modified, to match the new BoM (error-prone process).

How can you solve these challenges of needing one, solid source of data? 

  • Choose a suitable quoting app designed for VARs of ICT, one that provides end-to-end integration with vendors such as Cisco and Distis
  • Integrate your procurement app with a suitable quoting app, which will enable the automatic synchronization of your BoMs, straight into your quoting workspace 

Integration with your Vendors and Distis solves huge mishaps that are common when VARs lack the proper integrations or when they rely on copy and paste operations.

VARs looking towards the future need to equip their business with the precise tools that will give them that ticket to compete with those who are already ahead of them, and ditch the tools that aren’t truly optimizing their quote processing.

 

Challenge #3:  Pricing Multiple Variations of your Proposal 

Large networking projects most often mean the preparation of more than one version of each quote. Creating different configurations and solutions can be hugely tedious, adding to that last-minute changes, alterations, etc, creating further delays to an already difficult process. 

How can you solve this challenge of providing more than one proposal variation, quickly? 

  • Automate the creation of multiple versions by applying filters on the categories you want to manipulate
  • Create several scenarios and variations of configurations
  • Quick processing of multiple versions

Choosing a quoting tool that will enable you to apply a wide range of flexibilities designed solely for ICT VARs.

Each of these proposal versions can be priced differently, by applying any of many filters of your choice. All within the boundaries of the budget and requirements of their clients.

ICT project management is extremely complex to manage, with a high risk in cost overturn, without even considering the proposal process. Checking the boxes to automate the quoting process, will save your organization days and weeks of manual labor and set you up to taking on bigger projects, with the same manual labor as today. 

Deploying a tool that provides you with a wide range of flexibilities will help you get even the largest proposals, out the door quickly. 

StrataVAR, an all-in-one quoting solution and provider of professional services for ICT VARs, focuses on optimizing technologies related to the VAR project proposal phase. We offer an all-in-one tool, fully integrated with Cisco and other vendors and Distis. We’ve been providing this technology to our many ICT VARs clients for over 7 years, turning quote-creation chaos into a non-issue, including proposals for large-scale networking projects for our clients.