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CPQ is an Auditor’s Best Friend

By Guest Author

By Andy Pieroux, Founder and Managing Director of Walpole Partnership Ltd.

One of the reasons many companies invest in a Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) system is to provide a robust audit trail for their pricing decisions. Let’s take a look at why, and how CPQ can help.

First, apologies if you are an auditor. I’ve always been on the business side – either in sales, sales management, or as a pricing manager. I can appreciate your view may be different from the other side of the controls. Perhaps by the end of this article our points of view may become closer?

If your business has the potential to get audited, I know that I can speak on your behalf to say we all just love being audited. We love the time taken away from our day jobs. We love the stress of feeling that something may be unearthed that exposes us or gets us in trouble, even if we’ve never knowingly done anything wrong. We love the thought of our practices being exposed as ‘in need of improvement’ and relish the chance to dig through old documents and folders to try and piece together the story of why we did what we did… especially when it was several years ago. Yes sir, bring on the audit.

The reason we love it so much is that in our heart of hearts, we know audits are needed for our organization to prosper in the future. We dread the thought that our company might be caught up in a scandal like the mis-selling of pensions, or PPI (payment protection insurance), or serious accounting frauds like Enron.

It was scandals like Enron in the early 2000s that gave rise to stricter audit requirements and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX). This set a high standard required for internal controls, and much tougher penalties for board members who fail to ensure that financial statements are accurate. The role of pricing decisions (e.g. who authorized what and when), and the accuracy of revenue reporting becomes paramount when evidencing compliance with audit arrangements such as this.

At this point, a CPQ system can be the simple answer to your audit needs. All requests for discount, and the way revenue is allocated across products and services is documented. All approvals can be; attributed to an individual, time stamped, and with reasons captured at the time of approval. More importantly, the ability to show an auditor the entire history of a decision and to follow the breadcrumbs from a signed deal all the way to reported revenue at the click of a button means you have nothing to hide, and a clear understanding of the decisions. This is music to an auditor’s ears. It builds trust and confidence in the process and means any anomalies can be quickly analyzed.

When you have all this information securely stored in the cloud, under controlled access to only those who need it, and a tamper-proof process, that means it is designed with integrity in mind, and makes the process of passing an audit so much easier. All the anxiety and pain mentioned above disappears. Auditors are no longer the enemy. You will find they can help advise on improvements to the rules in your system to make future audits even more enjoyable. Yes – that’s right…. I said it. Enjoyable Audits!

So, CPQ is an auditor’s friend, and an auditee’s friend too. It doesn’t just apply to the big-scale audit requirements like SOX, but any organization that is auditable. Whether you’re a telecommunications company affected by IFRS 15, an organization impacted by GDPR, or any one of a thousand other guidelines, rules or quality policies that get checked – having data and decisions stored in a CPQ system will make you love audits too.

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