Archive for the ‘Applications’ Category

Review of Centive Compel On-Demand EIM Solution

June 10, 2008

It has been a few weeks already since Sarah Carlisle, Director of Product Management and Bob Conlin, Chief Marketing Officer at Centive agreed to give me a detailed demonstration of Centive’s on-demand Sales Performance Management solution called Compel.


About Centive

Let’s talk about Centive for a moment: Centive has been around for a while; the company was founded in 1997 and originally focused on delivering on-premise Enterprise Incentive Management (EIM) solutions for very large companies. By 2004, Centive saw an opportunity to leverage the growing on-demand market and began developing the first on-demand sales compensation management solution – this time targeting mid-market companies. In May 2005, Centive released Compel. Shortly thereafter, they divested their original on-premise application business to ensure a focus on the on-demand market.

Compel Review
Compel is another leading on-demand EIM/SPM application with a value proposition almost identical to other applications and companies I have reviewed including Callidus, Varicent and Xactly. One nice aspect of Compel is that all its functionalities are bundled within the core application (no additional modules are required for reporting, modeling, analytics, etc.). Compel is a SAS70 Type II attested application and offers AppExchange-certified integration with SalesForce.com. Centive also has an OEM reseller agreement with ADP where Compel is sold as “ADP-ICM powered by Compel.”

Many companies like Adobe, Salary.com, McKesson, Cars.com and Sterling Commerce selected Compel to automate their sales compensation.

Compel Interface
There are 3 main “views” for Compel, each for a different type of user: the sales user view, the manager/executive view and the compensation administrator view. All views have one attribute in common: they are all very interactive. Any report or charts displayed will provide additional information when the cursor hovers over them. Clicking generally results in drilling down to get more detailed information.

Sales User
The main screen for the sales user displays at a glance all the information the salesperson needs to know. On the left portion of the dashboard they can see their total compensation, along with some details of how the total was derived. Clicking on the underlined amounts will result in showing more details.

The central portion of the screen represents in a graphical format their year-to-date total compensation, and analytics showing earnings and performance (sales vs. target) for each of their plan measures.

The bottom portion of the screen show alerts which can be either system generated or input by a business user, and more details on measure results.

Hovering over a graph displays additional information:

Drilling down from the Incentive Payment section shows information at the transaction level:

Another very interesting feature of the salesperson dashboard is the ability to display sale opportunities (from salesforce.com or other CRM/SFA systems) and the effect they have on the rep’s total compensation:

Manager View
The manager view has a very similar look and feel to the salesperson view, but displays information for the entire team:

Results can also be expanded to easily find details about how a transaction was commissioned:


Comp Admin View
This is where plans are created and configured.. Unlike other systems I have worked with, Compel abstracts the process of creating calculation and crediting rules through their Plan Builder wizard. Plans are created by defining and grouping the “Measures”by which reps will be compensated. First, the measure name, description, period, and type of measure is specified.

The next step consists in specifying what is being measured, and defining any filters (for example, exclude sales to existing customers):

The administrator just needs to choose the appropriate option and click on “Next” to the next configuration window.


Other systems have a component approach, and maintain a component library. In Compel you build measures. You can clone measures or plans, so if you need to build a new plan it is easy to clone an existing measure and re-use it as is or modify it using the plan builder wizard

Effective Dating:
I described effective dating when reviewing the latest version of Xactly Incent and discussed how critical effective dating is in my opinion. Centive uses effective dating for everything: people records, quotas, measures, plans, transactions, results, reports, etc . which makes its maintenance much easier. It also solves the difficult problem of handling prior period adjustments – Compel recognizes the crediting rules, roll-ups and structures that were in place at the time of the original transaction, and trues-up the adjustment to the current period.

The following plan builder screen capture shows how each plan uses effective dating:


Conclusion
I would probably need to work with Compel to make-up my mind about if I like the concept of how plans are built, since it is so different from the other applications I have seen. It’s very exciting to see a different way of thinking.

What I can say is that configuring a plan seems to be a very user-friendly step-by-step task. The user interfaces for sales people and managers are also very clean and display all the required information at a sight. Compel also seems to offer all the functionalities anyone could be looking for, and does so without the need to purchase additional modules.

Xactly Incent 4.0 – Effective Dating and Other New Features

May 31, 2008

Xactly will be releasing the new version of its On-Demand Sales Compensation Management application in the next week or two.
The main changes in Incent 4.0 will include an improved user interface and reports, “effective dating”, improved organizational management and advanced searches.
User Interface and Reports:
The interface looks good and most of the changes were made around the new functionalities for effective dating. The reports look prettier and also have new security/privacy features. More reports are available and they work “out-of-the-box”. As far as I know these reports are still not very customizable, so it will be important to make sure they satisfy the reporting needs.
Effective dating:
This is a feature I described earlier when discussing versioning. Effective dating allows to give a certain value to an object between certain dates, and a different value between other dates. This can be used to track changes to teams and reporting releationships, job or role changes, promotions, name changes, targets, etc.
For example, if a person’s salary goes up from $50,000 to $60,000 on March 31st, the original version will show a salary of $50,000 and a new version will be created with an effective date of March 31st and a salary of $60,000.
Effective dating is extremely useful because rather than scrambling to make changes before a payroll date, changes can be done at anytime. Since these changes can be tracked, effective dating also improves auditability (it is easy to see how historical commissions were calculated).
Note: Effective dating in Xactly is currently limited to people, positions, hierarchy and relationships. Hopefully a future version of Incent will allow effective dating of other objects such as plans, rules, quotas, etc.
Organizational Management:
Without effective dating, organizational management was a bit tricky in previous versions. Changes in hierarchy and relationships are now much simpler and much cleaner.
Advanced Search:
Advanced searching makes the process of finding the right object or result much quicker. It was also a needed add-on to be able to search for effective dated objects.
I have seen a few minor upgrades of Xactly (3.x) and with the scope of these changes, this new release (version 4) clearly deserves it’s own number. Lets just hope that effective dating will be applicable to all objects in the near future.

PlanIt: Another On-Demand Sales Performance Solution

May 21, 2008

I received an e-mail some time ago from Matt Tyre, a Sales Compensation Consultant working at Sales Resource Group (SRG).

Sales Resource Group Inc. is an industry leading sales compensation professional services organization that provides world class software, consulting and outsourcing services, with expertise in sales incentive programs and sales force effectiveness.

I had heard about their president David Johnston before, from his articles in the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) Contact magazine. David has over 20 years experience consulting for various organizations and teaches sales compensation for WorldatWork.

What distinguishes Sales Resource Group from many other small sales compensation management companies is that they offer their own sales compensation solution called “PlanIt”.

PlanIt is an On-Demand Sales Performance Management solution offering the same functionalities as other applications in its category (incentive calculations, reporting, analytics, etc). In addition, PlanIt also has a module providing guidance to optimize compensation programs and align these programs to business needs, and allows to route relevant documentation to its users.

User Interface
Similar to other applications, PlanIt displays some high level compensation information to the payees when they login. From this screen they can easily review their current revenues, the top 10 performers and their ranking compared to their peers. What I particularly like about the main screen is the News /Announcements which occupies an important position at the top center of the screen. This ensures payees don’t miss out on important news.


Reporting
The reporting section is also very important for the payees. Most of the reports are available “out-of-the-box” and illustrate all the information in different level of details. Payees can drill down to the order level, or see high level summary of their compensation and ranking. Custom reports can also be created easily.


Implementation
Overall the user interface was very nice, but the big question remaining was, how easy is it to implement and maintain solutions built with PlanIt. Not surprisingly the answer was, the implementation is user friendly. It is all done through a user interface and does not require any deep technical skills.

What I particularly liked about the Plan Design interface is its ability have approved plans and plans awaiting approval. I have not seen this functionality in other applications I am familiar with.
Mobility Feature
Only a week ago I discussed Varicent’s mobility feature and I said I hadn’t seen this anywhere else; PlanIt is actually available for use on PDA’s including Blackberry handsets an Palm devices since April 18th. I haven’t seen PlanIt mobile or Varicent mobile, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most vendors followed with a similar feature.

Stevie Award for Sales Compensation Program of the Year
In 2006 and 2007, major clients of SRG won the prestigious Stevie Award for Sales Compensation Program of the Year.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I was a bit surprised I hadn’t heard about Sales Resource Group before being contacted by Matt. However, with the level of maturity I noticed from their application, I would not be surprised if we started to hear more about them.

Sales Compensation Planning Made Easy – Interview with Makana Solutions

April 22, 2008

I recently had the opportunity to spend an hour with Liz Cobb, Founder and CEO of Makana Solutions, and with Arthur Gehring, Director of Marketing.

Makana is a relatively new company (founded in 2004) offering a very good on-demand application, called Makana Motivator, which helps build effective and clear compensation plans. Makana Motivator is very easy to use and allows its users to quickly create a plan either based on other sample plans, or from the ground up. It also has the capability to “test” your plan.

As I mentioned several times, one of the biggest challenges faced by sales management or consultants when implementing a sales compensation system is the “complexity” of the compensation plans. Sometimes compensation plans are quickly described in a e-mail or over the phone, or almost handed over written on a napkin. In other scenarios, they are can be well documented but may still lack clarity, key aspects, or examples, or may be lengthy. Finally, even if a compensation plan is well documented, it does not mean that the plan is effective and well aligned with the objectives and budget of the company.

The Makana Motivator application is very intuitive to use. Companies using the application typically receive a 1-hour live tutorial from Makana, after which they are able to model plans on their own. The main components of the application consist of the space in which the plans are built, where the organization is built with assignments and territories (participants can be imported from SalesForce.com), a section for cost modeling the plans, and finally, a section that generates a plan and gives the option to save it as a PDF.


In my opinion, one of the most powerful aspects of Makana Motivator is that it allows users to choose templates from a best-practice library and to adapt them to meet individual circumstances. The application then guides the user following a “wizard” step-by-step approach to ensure nothing is overlooked. The application is very interactive; hovering over most of the application components provides additional feedback . “Blue-ribbon advice” offering expert tips and help is also available throughout the process.

Another important feature of this application is the ability to display and compare plans side by side. Such a graphical representation quickly helps identify the major differences between plans.


Plans are not only displayed side-by-side; they can also be designed and modified side-by-side. Plans consist of measures and formulas which can be edited by expanding their respective section.


The cost modeling section can show costs for the entire company or byany sub-set such as product group or geography. Projected attainment can be modified to gain an idea of the impact of those variables on the overall incentive costs. Many sales performance management applications offer modeling and analytics capabilities, but Makana Motivator allows its users to model the plans BEFORE they are implemented rather than after, which can save a lot of time, money and headaches.

Once the plans are fully designed, and since the application is on-demand; they can easily be circulated and feedback can be gathered directly in the application. Upon acceptance of the plans, plan documents can be individualized and generated. The resulting plans are very clear and easy to understand by consultants, comp teams and sales reps alike, and are visually pleasing.

Motivator adds a lot of value over the spreadsheets used for planning today by streamlining the process, providing best practice guidance, easy cost modeling, clear plans and an audit trail. Makana Motivator also provides Salesforce.com users Apexchange certified integration.

Read more about what customers have to say about Makana Motivator.

After completing a form on the Makana website, you can access several free webinars and articles about Makana Motivator and compensation plan design best practices.

Which Sales Incentive Compensation Management Software is Right for you?

December 29, 2007

Gartner published an excellent research in July 2007 called “Market Scope for Sales Incentive Compensation Management Software”. This research discusses several of the sales incentive compensation management offerings and is surprisingly free.

The offerings evaluated are:
ACTEK
Callidus Software – TrueComp
Centive
Oracle (E-Business Suite)
Practique Associates
SAP
Synygy
Trilogy – Versata
Varicent Software
Westport Software Group
Xactly

The evaluation criteria were: Overall Viability, Customer Experience, Product/Service and Market Responsiveness. Results of the study are summarized in this table:


This study is a good start to help identify the prominent vendors of Incentive Compensation Management offerings. The best choice would be determined on a case-by-case basis since some of these vendors focus on a particular company size (number of payees), on a particular technology and in some cases on specific industries.

I would also like to highlight that several more vendors exist but were excluded from the study because they did not meet specific criteria including having at least 16 clients, of which at least 12 using the system in production, and with enough cash to fund at least one year of business operations.

When do you need Compensation Management Software?

December 27, 2007

There are dozens of Compensation Management Software available which can be categorized in two groups: on-premise and hosted solutions.

On-premise applications usually require dedicated hardware, and the company is responsible for keeping the application running, to apply upgrades when required, to ensure data security, etc. On-premise applications can further be categorized into turnkey solutions and high-end solutions, with offerings filling in the spectrum in between. Turn-key solutions include common incentive plans and work with limited integration efforts; these solutions are geared towards companies with few payees. High-end solutions require expensive hardware and very involved efforts from a team of compensation specialists and data integrators; these solutions are typically geared towards organizations with more than 1,000 payees.

Hosted solutions are also called software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings and are usually geared towards companies with fewer than 500 payees. The biggest advantage of hosted solutions is that the vendor will provide all the required implementation work and be responsible for the upgrades. They can be a good alternative when on-premise solutions are too expensive or when in-house technical expertise is not available.

With fewer than 100 payees, it may be more efficient to handle compensation manually, using simple spreadsheets. However, when the number of payees grows beyond 100, or if the compensation models are very complex, Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) applications should be considered.

I will talk about different sales performance and incentive management applications later.