The dictionary defines Incentives as something that incites or tends to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity. 

Ask any Sales manager how much he uses the word, Incentives, in a day to day work for motivating his sales team.

But Sales incentives as a process are typically an afterthought with most organizations. Often most organizations start off with spreadsheets which become unmanageable after a few years.

This apathy is not because of lack of understanding of the need but in most cases a combination of:

  • Ownership issues
  • Complexity in data gathering and management
  • Very small administrative user base dedicated to working this area

Few years back, I came across at SAP a solution that looked too good to be true, SAP’s Incentive and Commissions Management (ICM), both from how it was technically constructed and how flexible it was to meet the needs of any industry and practically any requirement you could throw at it.

In the last couple of years as I have taken over as a practice lead in N. America service organization, I have had the opportunity to help many of our customers understand how the SAP ICM solution best fits their needs during various sales engagements and during implementations. I would like to take one such case to explain why I believe SAP ICM is SAP’s truly hidden gem.

In the middle of 2010, I received an email from a colleague asking me to look a specific issue with one our premier customers in fast chain restaurant space. They were looking at improving their overall image in the market place and wanted to implement an incentive program for their franchisees to encourage to do improvements and sign up for extended contracts.

Their biggest issue – A heavily customized SAP environment (you have never heard that before have you) which they were planning to customize even further to meet these new need and wanted assistance from SAP to decide the route they should take. This is when I came across this information, immediately went to work to formulate an idea around the SAP’s Incentive and Commissions Management (ICM) solution.

We were able to get a 1 day session with the customer after we did a remote session which was centered on explaining this single slide (Figure 1) and all the components around it.

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Figure 1 – Incentive and Commission Management

Once the customer saw the power of the solution and more importantly the solution could work with minimal disruption to their existing landscape they decided to invest in the solution.

Now, we did not hear back from them for a few months as they tried to work the solution on their own and with their existing partners.

This is where my second bullet point comes into play – Complexity and I mean business complexity where understanding the end to end business process at least 2 other areas apart from incentives and commissions comes into play. Depending on whom customers want to enable, you need to understand the order to cash process plus either you finance or human resources process.

Our customer’s implementation partners struggled without having the complete understanding of the requirements and process, this is when the customer reached back to SAP consulting with a simple ask, they had 10 weeks and a fixed budget to go live. Even after working 8 years on the solution, and having successfully gone live with multiple customers this was a challenge much unlike I had faced in my career.

We (I personally) had played a big role in convincing our customer to look at our ICM solution and as an organization it was our responsibility to make them successful (this is something that you will hear a lot from SAP consultants).  So we decided to take this as a challenge, first to address the issue of budget constraint we reached out to our Global Delivery Center in India to find the best technical resource we could. Luckily for us we found the person we were looking for.

Then we got down to getting onsite and worked through the first week the gaps we could find in the blueprint work that was performed by the customer’s SI. With 10 weeks, we had very little time for blueprint, so we did an agile blueprint and realization. All this was happening during the Christmas break which meant added pressure due to holidays.

But both the team’s, customer and SAP services worked as one and we met our mark on Jan 31st going live with the solution. We worked out of 4 locations, Raleigh, Toronto, Miami and Bangalore and through the entire time the entire team kept on believing that it could deliver. Day and night were only relevant on the clocks as the team worked through multiple time zones as one.

Coming back to the solution, we could not have delivered this with the type of customization that the customer’s landscape had without some amazing concepts that are delivered standard with SAP ICM solution. What are those? I will cover that in my next blog….

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