5W – Quote-to-Cash (QTC)

Thank you for reading! Please see “Why 5W?”  for context, methodology and disclaimers.

Quote to Cash Overview

The Quote-to-Cash process (also known as Q2C or QTC, the latter I am using as the acronym in this article) is a set of business processes that includes product / offering selecting, quoting, pricing, up-sell, contracting, invoicing, integration with payment systems, contract renewal and more. We should all recognize that reducing friction after the sale is a critical component to engaging delivery, achieving revenue targets and getting paid. In an ideal world, QTC would be automated and heavily integrated with all component systems and dependent systems.

Given the importance of streamlining revenue-associated business processes, it is surprising to note that many companies have not effectively automated or standardized their QTC processes. While some businesses have standardized some of them .. others have selected or inherited multiple SaaS-based systems over time, and still others rely on separate processes. However, there is a significant lack of end-to-end integration for QTC in most businesses.

You might also have heard of Order to Cash (OTC). While the terms may be used interchangeably, OTC and QTC are different:

  • OTC likely does not include configuration capabilities for the product / offering, like setting the price, creating a quote, or any bits associated with Contracts and Contract Renewal. OTC tends to be at the order level, where these items are simple (quantity, color, etc.), or already identified.
  • QTC encompasses a much larger set of business processes and as noted above, may well include OTC bits for scoping, pricing, logistics and delivery.

An effective QTC implementation will be tightly bound with company Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Configure Price Quote (CPQ), inventory and Point of Sale (POS) Systems for brick-and-mortar establishments. If the organization transacts business online, an E-Commerce System acts as POS, and a Customer Experience Management (CXM) System can provide significant Business Intelligence (BI) value by tracking customer interactions on the site, capturing buying patterns and interest in other products for future cross-sell / up-sell outreach.

If the organization lacks native (or effective) integration across systems, it can consider deploying Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as an effective stopgap to connect other systems to a QTC system while integrations are built.

QTC Business Benefits

QTC falls on the right-hand side of a Supply Chain Management (SCM) diagram, where an end customer has selected / described a finished product / offering and is entering purchase / contract / services negotiations. Note that in a retail E-Commerce transaction, there is typically little complexity on this: select the item, customize, click the quantity, enter payment and shipping information and the product shows up. For more complex offerings, scoping, customization, integration with external systems, current-customer discounts and much more will require much more detail when finalizing an purchase.

Consider QTC enabling / automating a complex set of transactional steps, including:

ActionActorNotes / Opportunities
Product / Offering SelectionBuyerGuided by Seller / Automation
Configuration / ScopingBuyer / SellerGuided by Seller / Automation
Configure Product / Offering / Services Price Quote (CPQ)SellerSeller Document Workflow
Approve / Reject CPQSeller ManagementIterative; should be automated
Create ContractSellerSeller Document Workflow
Provide Approved Quote and Contract to CustomerSellerSeller Document Workflow
Negotiate ContractBuyer / SellerIterative; requires multiple entities.
Sign ContractBuyer / SellerLogistics: ‘wet’ versus digital.
Check Customer CreditSellerExternal System
Place OrderSellerSeller Internal System
Create InvoiceSellerSeller Internal System
Send InvoiceSellerSeller Internal System
Pay InvoiceBuyerBuyer Internal System
Revenue RecognitionSellerSeller Internal System
Contract RenewalBuyer / SellerTypically outside the QTC scope.

This list is not complete and will vary widely across companies.

ED: As Article Publish dates are frozen in time, it is quite possible reviewed vendors and their capabilities may have advanced beyond those presented herein. Please accept my apologies for my shortcomings. A note to vendors: please reach out to advise your current offering capabilities and I will update.

QTC Capabilities

Many E-Commerce transactions automate the early stages of this (Product / Offering / Configuration / Scoping, some quoting), but as the bulk of these processes involve disparate systems (including internal systems like Contracting, Financial and Warehouse Management), E-Commerce can (and should) only go so far in the overall QTC scope.

QTC transactional steps touch multiple systems in the Seller environment:

  • Order Management
  • Configuration Management
  • Quoting (CPQ) Management
  • Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
  • Credit Management
  • Warehouse Management (WM)
  • Accounts Receivable (AR)
  • Payment Management.

.. and so on. Automation is the first step, but integration is the real key to accelerating the entire scope of QTC to business benefit.

The QTC process is comprised of discrete steps, a subset of which are described above. A QTC system that integrates, automates and governs transactions, including policy-based logic, approval routing, notifications, and providing an all-up process view is a major benefit to an end customer. A quote from the Aberdeen Group (provided by BlackCurve) cites QTC ROI is significant, resulting in:

  • 105% larger deal sizes.
  • 49% higher proposal volume
  • 28% shorter sales cycle
  • 26% more sales representatives meeting their targets
  • 17% higher conversation rate

These benefits are largely due to streamlined, interconnected and error-free automated processes. Please note the numbers above were extracted from QTC systems across multiple sales organizations and across all industries. End customers should take a serious look at QTC to achieve this kind of reporting alone .. most organizations can search across systems to validate these findings in their present environment.

Addressing the automation and interconnectivity use cases in the ‘Business Challenges’ section above will aid in the selection of a QTC offering, as each represents a checklist item to be confirmed in an end-customer environment during discovery.

Organizations with robust Supply Chain Management systems will recognize the opportunity to improve in-chain payment processes by expanding the scope of the QTC process to include Trading Partners for whom they are a Provider or a Seller.

QTC Use Cases

QTC is effectively its own use case, speeding the process between initiating, configuring, pricing and closing on a sale to receive revenue. Granted, you’ll note a lot of complexity across a large number of systems that describe a complete solution.

QTC Providers

The major ERP, CRM and SCM players have a QTC offering or integration / implementation:

CompanyFeatures / Notes
AcceLIMPrimarily visibility and integration tools.
AccumaticaERP with CPQ and QTC integration.
ApttusCPQ, contract management, E-Commerce and revenue management. AI- / ML-enabled.
Callidus SoftwareCloud-based sales, marketing and customer experience. SaaS-based, with flexible (subscription, services and licensing) pricing options. Owned by SAP.
CapgeminiCPQ and Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) with QTC integration.
Cincom SystemsCPQ with QTC integration.
CloudSenseCPQ, OM, CLM and E-Commerce built atop Salesforce.
ConnectWiseCPQ, RPA and QTC integration.
DataServPrimarily FPA with QTC integration.
DocusignThe DocuSign Agreement Cloud is a significant expansion to their online document management capabilities, which now include CLM.
experlogixCPQ and OM for Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
FPXExperience Management solutions for Enterprises, providing CPQ for Sellers and Buyers.
KBMaxCPQ with Salesforce integration (Epicor).
OracleThe Oracle CPQ Cloud is tightly integrated with its CXM suite.
SalesforceCRM provider. Acquired SteelBrick in 2015. SB built QTC as an SFDC application.

ED: As Article Publish dates are frozen in time, it is quite possible that reviewed vendors and their capabilities may have advanced beyond those presented herein. Please accept my apologies for my shortcomings. A note to vendors: please reach out to update your current offering capabilities and I will update.

QTC Audiences

A QTC engagement is unlikely to be greenfield, as some automation, on-premises or SaaS silos will likely exist. It will also cross multiple audiences within an organization, including:

  • IT
  • Contracting
  • Quoting
  • Finance (AR / AP)
  • E-Commerce Platform Owners
  • Logistics and Fulfillment Roles

.. and all the way to the executive suite.

A modern QTC offering should have no issues connecting with modern SaaS silos via API or RPA. This is a solid benefit to call out as end customers will be rip-and-replace averse when engaging with critical legal and financial systems. Initial engagement will include:

  • Discovery of the current order, fulfillment, payment systems, plus business workflows.
  • Capture integration points (by name and integration method).
  • Document the present workflow as part of solution planning.

Some reluctance will surface as many will cite some of their processing components are working well enough to suit their needs. This posture will manifest itself early in a conversation, especially among operators of ‘in the chain’ components. While a company-wide QTC effort will be driven from the top, there is still value in engaging with operational entities within an organization to ascertain process, performance and contract intelligence.

Common Customer Objections include:

  • QTC is expensive: Cost is relative, and like any investment in business technology, a customer must examine the ROI of the purchase against the potential value the technology and disciplined business processes will bring to the company. There are many SaaS-based QTC offerings with robust integration points offering process improvement without a rip-and-replace requirement.
  • QTC is complicated: The short version: it is. As QTC requires discipline both in process management and integration, suggesting a dedicated resource or a partner to assess and execute. QTC is connecting, configuring and NOT coding in over 75% of the use cases, and creates huge time savings when deployed. It is not all sunshine and roses .. if systems that cannot be integrated (siloed, lacking APIs or are paper-based) are in the process, you may not be able to eliminate some manual steps in the first iteration.
  • QTC is overkill: Many organizations may feel they’re too small or not complex enough for QTC. Tease this out in Discovery .. if the customer has a quoting and approval process, they will benefit from QTC capabilities.
  • We lack the bandwidth to deploy QTC: See ‘complicated’, above. There are companies who can assist with this.
  • We already have QTC: I appreciate it when an organization has an existing implementation as it results in a shorter education cycle and lets us engage more directly. Through Discovery, unpack the extent of their implementation, any components are getting old / need updating, or don’t play well (integration or reporting) with others. You may also be able to expose opportunities for QTC within their SCM implementation, as noted in ‘capabilities’, above.

Not an objection, but a QTC implementation isn’t typically do-it-yourself. Most organizations will recognize this, so it is important to have engaged Partner Sellers to provide Services in these engagements.


You may surmise QTC is a less common implementation in companies and not likely a greenfield solution. Companies will have manual or semi-automated processes, each with a process discipline. QTC is an enabling technology within E-Commerce, Logistics and Fulfillment platforms, so industry / vertical is less important than how the customer transacts business.

Some offerings are more end-to-end than others .. but note: as flexible Integration is a requirement for a QTC offering, an end customer can select and right-size a solution that has just the features they seek at a price point they can afford. Most of these are SaaS-based, allowing for a low barrier to customer entry and flexible entry / escape paths.

5W – Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Thank you for reading! Please see “Why 5W?”  for context, methodology and disclaimers.

Supply Chain Management Overview

The term Supply Chain describes the planning, sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, order management and fulfillment of products / services from points of origin to delivery.

The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals defines Supply Chain Management (SCM) thusly:

Supply Chain Management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities. Importantly, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers. In essence, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. Supply Chain Management is an integrating function with primary responsibility for linking major business functions and business processes within and across companies into a cohesive and high-performing business model. It includes all of the logistics management activities noted above, as well as manufacturing operations, and it drives coordination of processes and activities with and across marketing, sales, product design, finance and information technology.

SCM software captures information flow about products, from raw materials through delivery in a digital format. SCM is a very common, yet very complex set of business processes that relies heavily on digital, physical system and human integration .. more so than most other organizational processes. SCM:

  • Requires complex digital and physical implementation, with myriad endpoints as it must manage aspects of the physical world in the form of raw materials, sources, inbound shipment logistics, manufacturing plants, assembly sites, warehouses, distribution centers, commerce / Commerce, fulfillment and so on.
  • Manages the people engaged with the Supply Chain, including source facility operators, distribution center operators, drivers, warehouse operators, forklift operators, manufacturing operators, assembly, kitting, pick-pack, fulfillment and shipping.
  • Provides alerting and reporting at all stages as materials are acquired, flow through the pipeline and finished products are shipped.

SCM connects multiple business processes enabled by modern technology. Managing the Supply Chain is essential to ensure the availability of materials, manufacturing, assembly, management and fulfillment of products to consumers. Modern Supply Chains are evolving to be more dynamic and data-driven, seen as a key competitive advantage for companies. This evolution impacts how efficiently and profitably companies can plan, source, make and deliver products to their customers. It’s not just inputs and outputs in motion .. SCM also manages and tracks inventory, costs and assets that contribute to overall efficiencies and profitability.

SCM Business Benefits

SCM has become increasingly important for businesses as it offers a range of benefits that can help companies to improve their operations, reduce costs and stay competitive in a rapidly changing market.

SCM provides businesses with real-time visibility into their supply chain operations. This allows companies to monitor everything from inventory levels and shipments, further helping to identify potential bottlenecks or delays. With this information, businesses can make informed decisions about their operations, quickly responding to changes in demand or supply chain disruptions. This visibility helps companies to optimize their inventory levels, reducing the need for excess stock and minimizing the risk of stockouts.

Process automation in SCM provides increased efficiency and productivity. SCM helps businesses to streamline their operations and reduce manual workloads, thus reducing errors and delays.

SCM enhances collaboration and communication between different stakeholders in the supply chain, such as suppliers, distributors and retailers. Sharing these data in real-time enables businesses to work together more effectively, identifying potential issues earlier and responding to changes more quickly. This leads to better relationships between suppliers and customers, and ultimately, better business outcomes.

Companies with robust SCM implementations enjoy a competitive advantage over those with manual processes. SCM allows faster response to changes in the market. The increased visibility and control over supply chain operations enables companies to be more agile and adaptable .. better positioned to capitalize on new opportunities. This is especially important in industries where competition is keen, and margins are thin.

SCM Capabilities

SCM can drive both direct business impact by reducing costs and improving the bottom line through operational efficiencies. It can also drive indirect business impacts in a variety of ways:

  • Improved access to information across the entire Supply Chain through integration and collaboration.
  • Simplified alerting and reporting through silo aggregation and automation.
  • Insights from AI and reporting using data that is available as close to real time as possible.
  • Increased agility in supplier interaction.
  • Data-driven forecasting.

To restate the obvious: a successful Supply Chain relies on high levels of system integration and appropriate levels of knowledge dissemination.

Note there’s a lot of interaction between Supply Chains and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, as many of the processes that serve the Supply Chain fall under the ERP bailiwick. Again, integration is key, versus adapting non-compatible ERP processes into SCM components. This is an ongoing discussion (and process improvement opportunity) with many companies, as ERP likely picks up the slack of many process operations prior to a company deploying SCM.

SCM Use Cases

SCM is effectively its own use case, purposefully serving the need for end-to-end movement of raw materials through finished product and into distribution. However, the deployments will vary widely and bear review. When working with prospects in an SCM engagement you should expect to find:

  • Companies with an integrated and automated Supply Chain, but lacking centralized monitoring, alerting and reporting.
  • Companies with mature manufacturing and logistics components, but falling short in integration.
  • Companies who recently went through an acquisition of a supplier, manufacturing or assembly facility.
  • Companies in the process of adding new, or removing old Trading Partners.
  • Companies with the need, but lacking a durable Supply Chain.

.. and every case in-between. SCM sales engagements will consist of Discovery and iterative discussions. Implementation will include a substantial Services component, as deep assessment is required to understand the breadth of the Supply chain (does it extend all the way to Warehousing, Order Management and Fulfillment?), where shortcomings in operations and integration exist, and which components of an SCM vendor will fulfill the requirements.

SCM Providers

All the major software providers claim some sort of SCM implementation .. some actually have one:

Coupa SoftwareBusiness Spend Management PlatformAppears to be SaaS-based (they’re cagey). Good coverage across Procurement, Invoicing, Expenses, Spend Analysis and Supplier Management. Light on manufacturing.
BaswareBusiness Spend Management PlatformPurchase to Pay, Expenses, Invoicing, OCR, Supplier Engagement, eMarketplace, ePayments.
HighJumpOmnichannel RetailWarehouse Management, ERP, Warehouse Automation, Logistics, Delivery, Transportation, QA, BI, offers cloud versions of WMS and TMS.
Descartes Systems GroupLogistics Technology PlatformCargo Security, Ocean Regulatory, Route Planning and Execution, Ecommerce, Freight Audit, Dock Scheduling, Transportation Planning and Execution.
EpicorBusiness ManagementMore of an ERP Play, but offers CMS, ECM, HCM, Logistics and Supply Chain Management that integration with ERP and other Epicor components.
Manhattan AssociatesManhattan ActiveIntegration, Inventory, Supply Chain, POS, OM, CXM, Inventory, Fulfillment, Transportation Management, Warehouse Management.
InforPlatform and CloudSuitePrimarily ERP. A number of industry-specific packaged like Automotive, Aerospace / Defense, Industrial Enterprise, Fashion, Healthcare, F&B. Includes Distribution and WMS, HCM and CRM.
BlueYonderSCMPlanning to Delivery, including full SCM capabilities from Manufacturing, Supply, WMS, OMS, Channel, Fulfillment, and more. Has a SaaS option for a large portion of the offering.
SAPSCMThe Big Dog for SCM, SAP expanded their ERP capabilities into MRP, Spend, HCM, CRM, and more. Note that SAP is moving all implementations to SAP HANA, an in-memory database for real-time processing.
IBMWatson Supply ChainIBM offers end-to-end supply chain visibility and provides Watson Insights for process and logistics improvement. Supports OM, WM, Integration, and Connect.
MicrosoftDynamics 365 for Finance and OperationsFinancial, operational, SCM and fully-customizable, SaaS-based application.

There are thousands of smaller SCM and ERP-SCM vendors out there .. many are SaaS-based, representing low barriers to entry, with trial versions.

ED: As Article Publish dates are frozen in time, it is quite possible reviewed vendors and their capabilities may have advanced beyond those presented herein. Please accept my apologies for my shortcomings. A note to vendors: please reach out to advise your current offering capabilities and I will update.

SCM Audiences

Many industries rely on supply chains and can benefit from a robust SCM implementation:

  • Retailers with complex supply chains require a lot of coordination and inventory management. SCM can help to streamline processes by providing real-time visibility into inventory levels and product availability. Retailers will see reduced costs and improved efficiency by optimizing their inventory levels and reducing stockouts.
  • Logistics companies have to manage large volumes of shipments, coordinating with multiple parties, including suppliers, manufacturers, carriers, and customers. SCM helps to automate these processes, providing real-time visibility into shipment status and location. Logistics companies can improve efficiency and reduce costs by optimizing transportation routes and reducing delays.
  • Manufacturing companies have complex supply chains that require coordination and supply management across multiple vendors for raw materials. SCM helps to streamline material acquisition processes with real-time visibility into production status and material availability. This helps manufacturers manage costs and improve efficiency by optimizing their production processes and reducing downtime.

In short, DSCM can help businesses in a wide range of industries to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve sustainability. Within these companies, titles a sales effort should pursue include:

  • SC and SCM Owners / Operators
  • SC Operations, SC Logistics Titles
  • Logistics and Transportation Operators
  • IT Admins
  • Finance
  • Materials and Manufacturing Processes Operators

Conversations will engage a wide variety of departments .. be prepared to orchestrate cross-department discussions.


In conclusion, digital supply chain management has emerged as a critical strategy for businesses to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced and highly interconnected world. By leveraging the power of advanced technologies such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), organizations can gain real-time visibility and insights into their supply chain operations. This enables them to make more informed decisions, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Implementing digital supply chain management is not without challenges. It requires significant investments in technology, infrastructure, and talent, as well as a cultural shift toward data-driven decision-making. Organizations must also address concerns around data privacy and security, supply chain disruptions, and the potential impact on human jobs. In the mid- to long-term, the benefits of digital supply chain management far outweigh the cost and effort, and businesses that embrace this approach are well-positioned to succeed in the future.

%d bloggers like this: