Wonder what its like to implement Oracle CPQ with Pierce Washington?


Here’s one company’s firsthand account of the lead up, implementation, and results experienced so far—in their own words.

The company is Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global life sciences tech and solutions company that’s on a mission to make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer. They manufacture, sell, and service numerous highly sophisticated research, medical, analytical, and diagnostic instruments, software, and services, including chromatography and mass spectroscopy instrumentation, all with mindboggling configuration possibilities.

Recently, we spoke with Laura Steward. She’s been with Thermo Fisher Scientific for 26 years and is the global process owner for the company’s Oracle CPQ/quote-to-cash transformation. Laura has an invaluable perspective because she was right in the middle of the entire project. Read on to see exactly how Laura and team tackled ThermoFisher Scientific’s Oracle CPQ implementations across the globe with us, Pierce Washington. “There were some really interesting things that happened,” says Laura.

If you’re considering CPQ revenue transformation in the future, this is a must-read, real-world case study with invaluable insights that can directly inform and benefit your own project.


I describe our starting point for this project as the “wild west.” There was no standardization in our quoting and pricing across divisions and among our reps.”


Everything was happening all at once. At the same time nothing was happening. There was little to no control, no standardized processes, no standard format for quote presentation, and no ability to include marketing collateral. Each product line had its own quote methodsWord files, Excel files, SAP quoting, Vantiv quoting. And sales reps may have had old versions of quote files on their hard drives. We had multiple quoting tools stored in different places and even homegrown tools that could only be maintained by the people that created them. Approvals were often done via verbal discussions or email. No actual rules or processes meant that each rep would do quotes their own way.

As a result, we had quote errors with things like obsolete configurations or parts being offered, inaccurate pricing, and expired promotions. We had contract compliance issues and no systemic method of tracking discounts or terms related to specific customer contracts. Also, not all our quotes had the proper approvals recorded. It was impossible for our support team to provide adequate support to the sales team. And without a standard quote presentation document across product lines, customers didn’t always realize that their quotes had come from one vendor, us.

All of this led to internal user frustration. It was hard for sales reps to even know if the version of the tool they had was current. We also experienced customer frustration due to products quoted sometimes not being available and delays in order processing from incorrect pricing. So, we needed a cleaner way.


“First, we did our homework. We researched three CPQ tools and chose the best one for us.”


We did a compare-and-contrast review of different CPQ vendors. The top three contenders were Apttus (now Conga), Big Machines (now Oracle CPQ), and SFDC Salesforce. Above all we looked at what the three had to offer and what we wanted most out of our implementation. We wanted a cohesive system that could flow from the opportunity to our products to configuration, pricing, and to the order. We wanted to be able to go end to end with whatever system we chose. We also wanted a harmonized and standardized quoting solution across all product lines and regions for improved and consistent sales configuration management, price management, discount management, and approvals. We wanted to give reps up-sell and cross-sell capabilities. And for our order management team, we wanted to have orders pushed directly from the tool into SAP for automated order creation.

And the winner was…Oracle CPQ. All three CPQ tools were good options, but our choice of Oracle was based on the completeness of the program. It really did go from quote to cash rather than focus on any one aspect. For us, Oracle hit that sweet spot. It has great advances in both the commercial side and configuration.


“Next, we focused on assembling and aligning our team to make sure all the right people were at the table and in sync.”


We had members of our core IT team involved, plus commercial and sales operations, as well as the wonderful folks at PW who held our hand every step of the way. We had both internal and external Oracle developers working on our implementation which really helped. So, we had every piece of the pie covered.

In terms of change management, we went right to the top. It’s always easier to push change management through a company if your leadership supports that change. Get your leadership involved because they can help communicate the need for change down and also across to other divisions or business units. The unified approach and executive buy-in makes life easier.

We set up a steering committee that included members from Sales, Commercial Ops, Legal and Finance, Product Management, and Service. We also had executive leadership positions on the steering committee, including sales VPs for North America, EMEA, Asia-Pacific and Japan, and China. We even got our divisional president involved. This meant we were able to communicate the change and socialize it out very quickly.


“With the help of our Oracle and PW partners, we began the crucial step of data readiness which is essential before you can begin implementation.”


We did our data clean up in-house, but we had a lot of help on how to clean up the data from Oracle and PW. They pointed us in the right direction because we didn’t know what we didn’t know until we started really getting into the Oracle tool.

What we discovered first is that implementing a new system is like shining a giant spotlight onto everything you do. You quickly realize that with everything you thought you were doing well there’s room for improvement. We discovered that even with some of our master data records, we had factories that weren’t maintaining their data in the same way. To put everything into a single tool, we had to not only adjust our quoting processes but our pre-quoting processes, and our inventory processes, and how we managed parts in our different systems. We had to address all of this before we could move ahead.


“After we got our data under control, we next defined what we wanted our new CPQ process to look like end to end.”


As we took this journey, we first needed to identify key users and stakeholders. We asked ourselves who will be using the tool and why? From the frontline we had Sales—account managers, sales reps, and the technical support teams that help to create the quotes. Order Management was another key stakeholder. These folks do the account and contact management, opportunity management, and preorder checks. Then there were the backline teams we had to look at—Legal for contract review, Finance for payment terms and credit, and Product Management for making sure configuration files were set up consistently between multiple systems. Additionally, we factored in the needs of our Master Data and Service teams so everyone would know what was available and being sold.

The new quote-to-cash flow would work basically like this. The sales user would use Salesforce to create an opportunity and start the quote process, do any needed revisions, and route the quote for general review. Once quotes were approved, we wanted to generate a presentment document. Then Order Management kicks in to validate that PO against the quote, do any updates, trigger approvals, then submit that quote to our ERP system. SAP would receive the quote, convert it to an order, and send that information back to our tools. We then broke these steps out by what was going to be manual and what was going to be automated.

Then we collected feedback from our steering committee, which is key when it comes to these enhancements. Our goal was to help them be more accurate and efficient. Finance hoped to control price leak and margin and know they weren’t leaving money on the table. Product Lines needed increased visibility of all new products to drive sales higher. And Service wanted to help our reps quote configurations more precisely to ensure flawless installations.

Ultimately, the key improvements we decided on for our implementation were to evolve our quoting, standardize our output documents, attach marketing collateral to our quotes, and have local language capabilities inside the tool. Systemic approval routing and a discount authority matrix to mitigate things like price leakage were also essential to us. And upselling capabilities, so our reps would have greater visibility into compatible accessories, service plans, and available training courses for the instruments they sell.


“We started the actual Oracle CPQ implementation with a North America pilot as phase one of our go-live, then steadily rolled out other divisions until we had gone global.”


We started in 2015 with our formal project launch, getting requirements approved, design completed and approved, and development finished. It took about 12 months to start our pilot in North America. We completed the pilot in February 2016 and had our go-live in April of that year. Germany/Austria were next to go live in June. Nordics/Benelux go-live happened in July. UK/Ireland went live in August. Czech Republic and Switzerland go-live was in September. Then France, Italy, and Spain went live in late 2016. In 2017, Singapore went live, Japan in 2018, China and Korea in 2019 and 2020, then India in 2022. At that point our implementation had gone worldwide, and all of our regions and all of our products had similar standard processes and quote documents.

Since 2022, we’ve been working on more of an enhancement timeline. For example, we did price impact calculations. When the economy was down, we worked on surcharge (which a lot of our industry did at the time). We created some guided selling and application-based packages. In 2023, our focus shifted to giving our customers Chrome consumables with their instrument purchases. We also did some automation between our ERP system and our quote system, so freight charges could flow back and forth freely. Additionally, we implemented an auto-publish function, so as soon as a quote reached the final approval stage it would automatically publish and go to a sales rep. We also did an auto approval based on profit margin for some items. And we just implemented a customer-specific pricing plan so our SAP tool speaks to our CPQ and based on certain calculations and data points we can give customers specific pricing on their quotes. 2024 is the age of AI, so we’re now working on something we call smart-quoting.


“We did all this work, so what did we gain? What benefits did we see because of going to Oracle CPQ with PW?”


We now have standardized quotations, workflow approvals, and product configuration. None of that existed before. As a result, we’ve seen a great improvement in our sales enablement. We’ve given our reps the ability to upsell, cross sell, and inform configurations and promotions with guided selling. This means our tool can suggest things like recommended accessories, software, and services. So, brand new reps are nudged in the right direction. They can ask the tool questions and it will give them answers based on what we set up in our guided selling tool. Prior to Oracle CPQ, under 20% of our quotes included service contracts because reps might not know the right part numbers or which service contracts were available for different instruments. Now, 68% of all quotes include service contracts because of the way we configured our CPQ tool. That’s a direct increase in revenue.

Another benefit is a lot more speed in quote development, approvals, and back-office hand off to create the actual orders. With our new CPQ we’re now able to combine service and products on the same order, which wasn’t possible before. Previously, our instrument and service teams would quote separately. Now these are combined into a single quote for our customers.

We’ve also added a lot of new automation. We’ve automated things like approvals, promotions, configuration, and pre-order integration. For example, now that we have a standardized order-approval workflow, we always know where a quote is in the process. You always know who’s next to approve the quote. And if they don’t approve it, they receive reminders. Also, promotions are now visible within our tool, so users don’t have to hunt for them or go to another website to look for special offers. And our preorder cycle time, meaning the time from PO receipt to actual order processing, has improved up to 20%.

Mitigation of price leakage is another benefit we’ve recognized. This gives sales managers visibility into how discounts are impacting price. They can see which of their team members are using high discounts and which are using lower discounts. This creates valuable points of discussion during performance reviews or just in weekly team meetings. We can see which reps are quoting based on price versus quoting based on value. And that really helps our reps get the proper coaching from their management team.

And Finance loves that we’re able to know how well we’re adhering to lower prices and how good we are at staying above that line. Now, everybody has the same lowest price we offer things at. And now, 95% of applicable quotes are processed through our CPQ. That means we’re speeding up the quote-to-cash flow. Also, we now have end-to-end visibility of incoming business because to have an Oracle quote you must have a Salesforce opportunity. So, we can see that deal from birth to finality.

And again, I can’t stress how much having standardized quote documents for our customers has really helped our teams. Our customers now know they’re talking to the same company for four different products, for example.


Well, that’s the highlights of Thermo Fisher’s Oracle CPQ transformation with PW. You can see and hear the whole story in our on-demand webinar, “Unlocking Revenue Transformation.”

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At Pierce Washington, we partner with Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, Logik.io and other e-comm tools to deliver transformative CPQ to large enterprises with complex product and service configurations in the life sciences, high-tech, and manufacturing industries.