May 16, 2011

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sound Plan Design

At INSIGHT11 in Boston this week, Brandon Kulik from Deloitte’s Sales Effectiveness/Human Capital Management practice presented his thoughts on integrating administrative and technology functions into the sales compensation plan design process. 

He suggests that the plan design process is multi-functional, highly visible, business impacting, and yet for a lot of organizations it leaves out critical players who can ensure its success.  Two of the most critical and sometimes overlooked players include those who are responsible for administering the plans and those who provide the data and upstream systems which are part of the overall commissions management process.  

All too often sales teams design plans with the best of intentions, but without input from compensation administration and information technology groups.  Without their involvement in the design process it’s hard to determine the practicality, cost and time involved in implementing their ideas. For example, if the data required to calculate commissions for a new plan doesn’t exist then the plan needs to be reconsidered, or the time to implement extended so that the data can be sourced from new or different systems.  It is much better to know this early when there is time to adjust, rather than figure it out after the new plans have been communicated to the sales team.

Another key point of Brandon’s talk was that the compensation administration and information technology groups bring a detailed understanding of the way things work today.   Many new plan concepts are designed and work at a general level, but confusion and mis-interpretation creep in where there are exceptions, unique cases and the like.  There is a need for absolute clarity on how the rules should be interpreted and managed in every scenario.  Making sure everyone understands this, can significantly reduce delays, errors and significant cost and wasted effort further down the road. 

Two other key considerations to ensure a more effective plan design process are to ensure that there is a governance process that formalizes the involvement of the compensation administration and information technology groups to ensure that this involvement is not ad hoc or convenient, but rather part of the standard processes by which the organization operates.  The other was to leverage modern sales performance management solutions to aid in the analysis, implementation, communication, roll-out and eventual success of the new plans.  Relying on legacy systems, manual processes and spreadsheet based systems will not allow organizations to efficiently and effectively design, implement and roll-out new plans at the speed of business today.

If you have any comments or follow–up questions please post them here or contact Brandon directly at

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