April 28, 2011

SPM Keys to Success - Ensure Plan Alignment

The SPM market is maturing.   We see more and more successful projects returning real value to organizations.   I have had the opportunity to meet with many of these organizations and have tried to find some commonality across successful projects.    Many of the things I hear are good basic project management advice that could help with any project, and some of the keys are very specific to Sales Performance Management

Based on the level of interest that I have received on this topic,  I have decided to spend a bit of time on this topic that I am calling 'SPM - Keys to Success'.   I blogged previously on reducing the number of reports produced, while overall improving the value of reporting overall.  this next 'Key to Success' is all about making sure that all of the interested parties are on the same page at the outset of the project.

When implementing a Sales Performance Management system, one of the things that can quickly take the project off track, is to assume that all of the interested parties directly involved with the project agree on the goals.  People come into Sales Performance Managment projects with different perspectives, different needs and different priorities.  Often these goals are not aligned and at times are diametrical opposed.   Often team members believe that it is quite obvious what the burning issues are and what needs to be focused on.  They assume the broader group agrees with their priorities.

For example, there may be one camp who believes that the focus of the project must be to help drive more volume through the sales channel.  This often makes sense for sales leaders who are driven by the need to increase revenue and market share in order to take or maintain leadership in a market.   There could be an opposing view that the goal of the Sales Performance Management system is to allow the organization to implement a new set of processes and plans that helps to drive a culture of rewarding sales of high margin business.  Their view is that not all revenue is created equal and rewards should be given for ‘good’ business.  If the organization continues to sell lower margin products, increasing revenue on those product lines may actually hurt the organization’s profitability.  Their focus is not on revenue growth, but rather driving improvements to the bottom-line.  This may result in selling lower volumes of high margin products.  Neither of these is wrong, but they may be at odds with each other and cause challenges in determining what needs to be accomplished and the priorities for the project.

Regardless of who in the organization is charged with implementing a new Sales Performance Management system, it involves many people from different parts of the organization.   Gaining consensus of the specific, measurable, time-based goals is one of these most important tasks that need to be completed at the outset of the project.    

Project managers are well advised to make sure that the goals of the project are clearly defined and then well communicated in the organization.   If this isn’t done then project teams introduce a high risk of missed deadlines, project overruns and potentially even project failure.

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