How to select the right SPM partner

How to select the right SPM partner

“A vendor cares about the contract. A partner cares about the customer.”

Companies today spend countless hours and resources trying to find the perfect solution for their unique Sales Performance Management requirements. With many industries facing a growing competitive landscape and increasing regulatory pressures, businesses around the globe look for the ideal solution that will automate their compensation process, provide accurate performance insights and align sales behavior to the critical strategic goals.

However, for many companies, those countless hours spent turn into an ongoing nightmare without the right partner. From solution design to ongoing support, the right implementation partner is a forward-looking advisor and a technical expert focused on ensuring the long-term success of the project and their client’s business.

There are three important considerations when selecting the right SPM partner:

1) Advisor versus Implementor

Sometimes, companies end up being trapped in the belief that bringing an SPM solution in-house starts and ends with implementing, rather than tailoring or customizing the software to meet the current needs of the business. And, of course, there are many great consulting teams who are quite efficient at taking the exact customer requirements and doing a good job of implementing them.

The problem for most companies occurs after go-live. Horror stories abound of how implementation teams either hard-coded certain components resulting in a severely inflexible solution or missed a critical element of the business process in the implementation discovery and design phase. Either way, the compensation team is left handicapped when it comes time to make plan changes such as adding new plans or changing existing plan components.

To combat this, savvy companies have started taking into account the difference between implementors and advisors when selecting SPM implementation partners. An advisor is focused beyond the now and on serving the long-term need of the client. As a partner, an advisor helps the client see through the existing haze into the realm of possibilities. It is less of a vendor-customer relationship and more of an ongoing, strategic relationship in which the partner’s success is wholly tied to the long-term success of the customer.

2) Domain & Technical Expertise

The realm of variable incentive compensation can be a complicated affair for today’s businesses. With a growing need to streamline the design, administration and distribution of incentive plans, companies from all sectors are facing the challenge of automating compensation functions. To add to that, every industry has its own unique requirements when it comes to managing compensation. For example, the retail industry, which has gone through a severe disruption in 2020, needs the strict ability to manage both store and employee performance in addition to having the agility to rapidly and easily set up SPIFs.

The insurance industry, in contrast, needs the ability to manage its producer lifecycle while the banking industry is focused on strict compliance readiness with the ever-growing regulatory mandates ruling the industry.

With such distinct needs present in each industry, companies need partners who can not only implement software but also understand the nuances of the industry so that the solution can be tailored to the particular demands of the individual industry.

A partner well-versed in both the technology and the domain is critical to a successful and more importantly, a comprehensive implementation that takes into account the current and future needs of the business.

The right partner will have the background to define, in conjunction with the customer, a clear vision of the future state to be achieved. Additionally, the ideal partner will support that vision through a methodology that aligns the solution design, implementation process and approach to delivering on the pre-defined vision.

3) Training & Support

For a majority of the companies, self-sufficiency for the business user is a key success criteria. This may never be achieved if the partner does not believe in the concept of effective knowledge transfer. Depending on their expertise, services firms can set up the solution in such a manner that the customer is largely dependent upon the partner to make changes. While this may work well in certain cases, it does not bode well for customers who would like ownership of their own solution.

A partner with the philosophy of complete knowledge transfer to the user and a proven record of training and enabling business users with the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency is fundamental to customers being able to take ownership of the solution post-production.

Another critical aspect of a services partnership is ongoing support programs. Partners without a focus on post-go-live support leave customers without a lifeline. Seasoned consulting teams will ensure that customers not only have a structured support structure after implementation but will also have flexible support options to meet the unique needs of each customer.

Self-sufficient customers may need occasional help troubleshooting in the system or making quick changes but companies with a lack of resources in the compensation function may need to opt for managed services that include full compensation administration outsourcing. With a highly volatile economic and political environment, making sure that partners are ready and established to work with customers rapidly and quickly should things change is foundational to assessing the long-term value of the partnership.

The InnoVyne team partners with clients to fully design, implement and support Sales Performance Management solutions that automate the management of variable incentive plans. As consultants, we believe in enabling our customers to achieve their strategic objectives by creating solutions that align sales behavior with key business goals.

Learn more about how we can help you with your Sales Performance Management journey by requesting a demo.

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