"10K has been invaluable in the CPQ space, giving us a much improved system that people trust and want to use."
STEM (which stands for science, technology, engineering and math) might be one of the hottest topics on the planet. STEM-specific schools are popping up at an astounding rate, and public schools and governments are aggressively pushing STEM curriculums to better equip the next generation workforce for the future. So to say ExploreLearning, an online education company selling math and science products to large districts and individual schools, is in a good spot is somewhat of an understatement.
ExploreLearning, founded in 1999 with a mission to improve student learning in math and science while making it fun along the way, offers products that are used in every state and province in the U.S. and more than 50 countries around the world. The business is doing exceptionally well, but that rapid growth has also stretched and tested the internal systems that the company uses to run its business.
ExploreLearning became a Salesforce.com customer in 2005, bringing in the platform to manage its sales, marketing and customer service operations. Over the years, the small internal team grew and expanded their Salesforce implementation adding on solutions such as Steelbrick CPQ. To date they had used outside help sparingly, relying on internal resources who had little time to keep up with the evolving Salesforce technical landscape. As the company grew, both early standard functionality and custom coding began to age, causing issues with system usability and data accuracy. The ExploreLearning team decided to take a step back and look at best practices for their industry and other companies of their size. They wanted to know which Salesforce functionality they should be taking advantage of but weren’t, and to address some of the backend problems and system limitations that were causing rework and negatively impacting the sales team.
The ExploreLearning team initially chose to work with a traditional consulting firm that came highly recommended from Salesforce. The team spent almost four months trying to understand options, define the project and negotiate price and still didn’t have the project off the ground. They decided to look for a different partner and immediately felt more comfortable with 10K’s direct and flexible approach.
According to Julia Given, VP of Finance at ExploreLearning, “We really liked the 10K model and their honesty. They were willing to work with us to understand what we wanted to accomplish, what we really needed and help us get there in a timely, cost-effective way.”
After connecting Julia and her team with the CPQ expertise they needed, the two teams worked together to break up their larger initiatives into discrete projects. Doing it in this way allowed the Explore team to understand what what they could expect from each project, the resources that were needed, and how long it would take.
According to Julia, “Their approach was really transparent and made it easy for us to choose which projects would add the most value to our business given the timelines and budget we had. The 10K team and approach allowed us to make the right decisions for us, unlike a more traditional firm that might lock you into a huge project, a huge price tag and still not give you what you expect.”
The first initiative will be to address the archaic code and technical debt in ExploreLearning’s current system, and automate CPQ functionality that is now done through spreadsheets and manual calculations. This phase, once complete, promises to save the company a great deal of time dealing with technical issues and downstream work in customer service and accounting. More importantly, it sets the company and its teams up for a whole new phase of growth.
"We really liked the 10K model and their honesty. They were willing to work with us to understand what we wanted to accomplish, what we really needed and help us get there in a timely, cost-effective way."