December 27 by Sarah Van Caster
Are you considering whether it is time to purchase a new Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) solution? Perhaps you currently manage sales compensation through spreadsheets and manual processes and your organization has simply outgrown these options. Or, you have an enterprise ICM solution, but it is too costly, too inflexible and/or not capable of meeting your evolving business requirements. Regardless of your circumstances, there are a few key things you want to keep in mind when purchasing a new ICM solution:
Analytics & Intelligence
Analytical capabilities should be paramount in any incentive compensation solution evaluation. This is an important tool for providing your organization insight and visibility that ultimately aligns behaviors and drives performance. The solution you choose should help you get the visibility that all your stakeholders require.
If your sales team does not have visibility to their performance, they will not be motivated by the incentives that are in place – there will be a disconnect between their behaviors and their rewards. Understand the reports, dashboard and analytics that are included with the ICM solution as well as the flexibility to quickly build your own reports. Ask the vendor if there are performance constraints or additional fees when it comes to business intelligence. You want as much freedom as possible to provide visibility to all stakeholders. Sales requires real-time, dynamic insights, but so does Finance, Sales Operations, Human Resources, the Compensation team, and so on.
Analytics and intelligence is a rapidly evolving area in enterprise technology. Be sure to investigate the vendor’s advanced intelligence capabilities, how real these capabilities are, and what features can specifically apply to managing sales compensation. Apttus offers machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities that enable users to interact with our ICM solution via a conversational user experience. Artificial intelligence delivers the assistance, coaching and prescriptive intelligence necessary to prompt users to take actions that create outcomes desired by the business. These tools drive behaviors by estimating commission, suggesting up-sell opportunities, giving quota attainment nudges and more.
ICM vendors differentiate themselves by what they offer beyond core compensation plan building and calculation. Be sure to consider what additional functionality is important to your business today, and what will be important in the future. As you pursue an incentive compensation solution evaluation, identify the key capabilities that are critical to success for your organization. This will help you narrow the field of potential vendors without having to spend the time and resources on lengthy RFPs with unqualified suiters. At Apttus, we have taken a holistic, intelligent approach to incentive compensation management. When evaluating a solution, we recommend you investigate the following criteria:
Configuration vs. Customization
To say “businesses change frequently” is an understatement for any organization – new products, industries, goals, objectives, organizational structures, leadership, etc. are commonplace and often, these changes impact sales incentives. Sales compensation professionals need the right tools to be able to quickly react to changing business requirements. The leadership team may set annual strategic goals, but they often want to tweak their execution plans and marching orders, in an attempt to ensure alignment. When leadership comes up with these changes, they expect the compensation team to make immediate adjustments to sales incentives to reflect these policy changes – perhaps they want a new SPIF, additional bonus, a limited-time contest, etc. In this environment, you need a solution flexible enough to allow business users (non-IT staff) to quickly make any changes required by the organization.
Make sure you understand how flexible the ICM solution truly is – what features/capabilities can be configured (i.e. – done through the user interface by business users), versus what will require costly customizations and additional support. With an ICM solution, compensation teams should not have to wait on technical support to make the changes they need. Also, be sure to validate that the functionality offered by the vendor is truly a single, integrated technology and not a collection of multiple standalone products – this could spell trouble in the form of unnecessary complexity and additional costs.