Archive for the ‘ICM’ Category

New web forum for the EIM Community – Get your Answers Now!

July 24, 2008

Today I came across a web forum called “Ask Jon!” by OpenSymmetry. It’s a great knowledge exchange platform where anyone can submit questions and answers.

Most posts are currently related to Callidus TrueComp, but there are new categories to discuss solutions by many other SPM vendors such as nGenera, Oracle, Practique & Merced, Sungard, Varicent, Xactly, etc.
Such forums are only as good as the content being posted, so I encourage everyone to visit and contribute in making this forum a one-stop shop for Sales Performance related information.
Of course my blog is still THE number one source of SPM information, but I may not [always] be able to answer all your questions, about every product on the market.

Don’t wait, go have a look and sign-up.

Incentive Compensation Meets HR at The Super Sexy HR Carnival

June 12, 2008

After missing 34 HR carnivals, I finally contributed an article for the 35th, hosted on Jon Ingham’s Strategic Human Capital Management (HCM) Blog.

My featured article is the recent story “The Saga of Purchasing an ICM System“, describing some of the common issues faced when purchasing and starting the implementation of an incentive compensation management solution.

Visit the carnival on Jon’s blog – it’s filled with very interesting and insightful topics from every area of HR.

The Moral to the ICM Saga

June 9, 2008

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this story first.

The blame cannot be put on one person. ABC Corp, the ICM vendor and the consultant all own some of the responsibility for the issue.

The entire situation could have been avoided if the requirements had been better designed. Requirements could have been better designed if the compensation plans had been completed with enough details. The vendor would probably have done a better job at scoping out the work initially or in certain situations may even have not submitted a proposal.

What can we take away from this story?

  • Requirements cannot be fully defined unless the compensation plans are finalized. Requirements may be inaccurate or incomplete unless compensation plans show sufficient details and examples.
  • An ICM solution cannot be selected unless the requirements are fully defined.
  • Not all ICM solutions can handle very complex compensation plans (no matter what the vendor’s rep says). Some solutions are better suited for certain situations.
  • Good requirements are the foundation for any IT project, mess up the requirements and the entire project will be shaky.
  • Using an experienced consultant to help out with the requirements design, RFP writing and solution selection could be a good idea to select the ideal solution.
  • Consultants and vendors alike cannot “always” guess client’s intentions.
  • Mentioning or emailing a requirement is not enough, this requirement must find its way to the requirement document to ensure it is met by the implementation and properly tested.

The ICM Saga Continues…

June 5, 2008

It’s Thursday; meeting time. The vendor explains the requirements from the RFP did not accurately reflect what needed to be performed by the ICM solution. “Because the scope of the project did not include all this additional work, it will cost more and take more time to complete”, says the vendor calmly. “But your sales rep said it would not be a problem!”, exclaims the comp director of ABC Corp. “We specifically asked about this during the presentation and your rep said it you could do it!”.

The vendor finally agrees that because the relationship between their companies is valuable and because of their strong work ethics, they will honor the agreed cost and do everything they can to meet the deadlines.

However, problems keep piling up. The ICM solution is not intended to perform what would be required for the compensation plans to work how they are supposed to work. Data integration, workarounds and clever tweaking pushes the ICM solution to its limit. The client is asked to only include what is absolutely necessary in this release and push out the rest. The deadline is missed. The solution is finally implemented, but User Acceptance Testing keeps revealing new issues. The second pay-roll date is approaching but there is still no solution in sight.

Does this sound like a familiar situation?

Who should be blamed?
The vendor’s implementation team for not working harder, their sales rep for having mis-represented their solution or not asked for more detailed requirements, or the ICM solution for not being powerful enough? ABC Corp’s team or their consultant for not having defined the requirements properly?

The Saga of Purchasing an ICM System

June 4, 2008

ABC Corp hired a consultant with extensive Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) experience to scope the requirements to be included in the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the purchase of a new ICM solution. The consultant diligently researched the latest industry trends, ICM best practices, client needs and leveraged his experience to create an outstanding requirement document. Weeks later the RFP is born, after having spent countless hours being sent back and forth between the sales, finance, contract and legal departments.

The RFP is finally posted and it takes a few more weeks before all the proposals are in. The consultant is called again to help out evaluating the best proposal. A few solutions are short-listed, and vendors are called in to demonstrate their product. The vendor’s sales reps all claim their solution is the only end-to-end ICM solution, that it is the “best-of-breed”, and that it has the best analytics and reporting capabilities.

After thoughtful consideration, a solution is chosen. It was a hard decision, but everyone at ABC Corp are happy that this long procurement process is finally over. ABC Corp’s management is particularly happy that according to the timelines illustrated in the selected proposal, the solution will be in place to process this quarter’s commissions and bonuses. After all, this was one of the major criteria in the evaluation process.

A kick-off meeting between the vendor’s implementation team and ABC Corp’s employees is scheduled. The vendor requests to see all the existing documentation about the plans to be implemented including the requirements document, to start working on the functional design documents and solution architecture. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

[Read Part 2 – The ICM Saga Continues]

Tweak your Sales Compensation Plan – A Tale of Diverging Opinions

June 2, 2008

In case you are not familiar with it, the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) has an excellent magazine called “Contact”. The best part is that this magazine is entirely available online, for free, and without any registration. Today I wanted to bring your attention to an article by Jay Somerset called “The Compensation Challenge” which appeared in the Contact Spring 2008 edition.

“It may be time to change – or tweak – your sales compensation plan to better compete in today’s employee-driven market, but if it is done incorrectly you could send your sales team packing. “

Indeed, tweaking a sales plan is tricky business. Stats mentioned in the article back this up: Less than 10% of North American sales organizations redesign their comp plans in a given year, while the other 90 percent only perform minor tweaks. I think ideally, closer to 100% organizations should only perform minor tweaks. Redesigning a plan could be a sign that it had not been planned out properly, and sometimes organizations are compulsive about trying new plans rather than improving their existing plans by tweaking them.

Diverging Opinions
Greg Blysniuk, president of TopLine Sales Compensation Solutions in Toronto advocates simplicity. He says that sales managers often believe their compensation plans must be sophisticated and complex to compete; Greg believes one or two quantitative measures is all what is required to incent people and to ensure the plans are easy to understand.

David Johnston, president of Sales Resource Group Inc in Oakville, Ontario believes compensation plans should factor in qualitative metrics. “Qualitative metrics can be measured according to milestones or key events”.

ICM Applications:
Greg says the main barrier to adopt an ICM application is their cost. He is in favor of using Excel spreadsheets for compensation data collection and analysis. He says that “Spreadsheets are simple to use, inexpensive and they do the basic job”.

David does not agree; he says that spreadsheets are “too basic and error-prone”. He also says that “sales is much too complex for a spreadsheet”. He concludes that there is a middle ground with smaller-scale on-demand ICM applications such as PlanIt (which I reviewed previously), that do not require a large upfront cost.

The Bottom Line:

No matter which approach is used, I’m sure we can all agree that the goal is to make the compensation plans as straightforward as possible. If there is a valid reason for a plan to use some “complex” measurement, fine… as long as it’s easy to understand and clearly communicated to the payees.

As for the need for an ICM application; if an organization is small enough with a low enough order volume and is happy with their current spreadsheet, and if they don’t see any benefits in real-time analytics and dashboards, auditability, modeling, forecasting, and all the other benefits provided by an ICM solution, then there probably no incentive to replace the spreadsheet by such an application.

I agree with Greg that spreadsheets do the “basic job”, but in my experience it does not take very long even for small organizations to realize that the “basic job” is not enough anymore to keep a competitive advantage.