May 25, 2011

SPM Keys to Success - Advice from Hertz

It’s always great when someone who has gone through the trials and tribulations of implementing an enterprise software application are willing to share their experiences.   I had the great pleasure of talking with, and then presenting with Lynn Ferrara, Senior Director of Global Compensation for Hertz at WorldatWork's annual TotalRewards conference in San Diego this week.  Lynn has just come through a roll-out of a new SPM solution across multiple business units for Hertz.  

Today's session  focused on providing some guidance for organizations who are just starting out on the Sales Performance Management journey.  As is often the case when I have these conversations I found her insight invaluable.  

 Lynn's advice can be summed up in four key points:

Reduce and Improve Reporting – I blogged about this earlier, but Lynn echoes the need to create mock-ups of the reports that you plan to produce and run them by your end-users.  Her advice to project managers is to do this early, at the very outset of the project.   In the end, it’s the reports that contain the value for management – you must make sure that the reports you design provide the value desired.  Lynn also advises that just automating the reports you have today, will often not meet the requirements of management.  If this is done early in the project, any mis-alignments are identified while there is time to adjust the project plan.  Agreeing on reports creates alignment, avoids disappointment, delays and cost-overruns later in the project. 

Allow Enough Time for Data Integration - different reporting systems can provide data on different time tables (i.e. Weekly versus monthly), in different currencies, converted at different rates, and from disparate manual systems.  Working to get a common, reliable set of input data often takes going back to source providers and working creating new or different extracts, schedules and formats.   This activity usually takes longer than most team allow.  

Consider Testing Requirements Early – when implementing a new system, you have to consider that a lot of things can change in the compensation system that will make testing a challenge.  One common example is that the source data has been updated since the compensation data was calculated.  This happens as people make corrections and adjustments to source data when errors are discovered downstream.  For most organizations it is nearly impossible to track all of the data changes to the source data.  This means that that data that was used to calculate sales compensation in the old system is different than the source data for the new system.   Add, manual overrides, currency fluctuation, errors in the current systems and processes and other data inconsistencies, and it is virtually impossible to come up with exact the same commission results for from the old and new system.  At the outset of the project, teams are well advised to think through a testing plan thoroughly, and setting realistic expectations.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – there are many interested parties when a new incentive compensation management system is implemented.  Constant communication with the payees, Information Technology groups, the executive team, Sales Management and the plan administrators are all key to ensure success in a Sales Performance Management system.  Lynn advises that project managers should allot more time to communications across the groups in order to both train them on the new system, but also sell the solution that you are building.
Again I want to thank Lynn for taking the time to share her thoughts with the SPM community.

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