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Peter Sass has extensive compensation domain knowledge, with over 25 years of experience designing, building, and implementing compensation systems.  He specializes in enterprise global implementations. His client list includes several Fortune 500 companies such as Nokia, Siemens, Kellogg, Owens Corning, Goodyear, and Sears.  He has worked with clients in Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Israel, Australia, and across the United States.  He has successfully implemented SuccessFactors’ Goal Management, Performance Management, Compensation, and Variable Pay modules, and he has worked closely with SuccessFactors’ Product Management, Engineering, and Quality Assurance teams as an advisor on product design and client advocacy.  Peter is considered to be a thought-leader in his field and is well respected for his commitment to high-quality client relationships and implementations. Peter is working with Aasonn, a global systems and technology services consulting firm that operates first and foremost out of the cloud http://www.aasonn.com/company/about-us/. I was the lucky one to do this interview with him!

YP: Peter, thank you very much for talking the time to speak with us. You’ve been an early adopter of SuccessFactors’ solutions, can you tell us a bit more about your background?

PS: I have a background in compensation management and have been implementing compensation systems for over twenty-five years.  I’m a Senior Professional Services Consultant with Aasonn and I’ve been implementing SuccessFactors Compensation and Variable Pay modules exclusively since 2006.

YP: Compensation management is one of your areas of expertise. What role does compensation play today in talent management processes? Did this role evolve over the last decade?

PS: For many, many years organizations have wanted philosophically to pay for performance, which is a noble goal.  I think compensation design and compensation systems have evolved over the past decade or so to the point where they actually do make the strong linkage to goals and performance.  And talent retention.

YP: How is the SuccessFactors solution helping our customers with those evolutions?

PS:  SuccessFactors has given employees and managers the context and the tools to make compensation management more focused, better understood, and far less arduous to accomplish.   In the end employees understand better what they are being rewarded for; management has a clearer idea of where compensation resources are going.

YP: The recent 1308 Release brings again improvements both on the UX side (see blog on the Compensation History…) as well as on the ease and speed of implementation side. One good example is the new “FTE” field that saves Compensation Management customers a lot of headache. Can you describe the “before” situation?

PS:  The “before” was that it was difficult to implement a solution to plan for part-time employees.    You had an apples to oranges comparison when calculating compa-ratios (salary to range midpoint comparison) and the basis for budget calculations would also need to be adjusted.   Years ago this wasn’t such a big deal, but today a high percentage of the professional workforce works part-time.   So customers needed to either accept some work-arounds or implement some complex calculations to accommodate the mix of full-time and part-time salaries.  It was not fun.

YP:  What is the “after release 1308” situation, and the impact on the projects moving on? Can you quantify the potential savings for a customer?

PS:  In August, SuccessFactors released a feature that handles the mix of part-time and full-time salaries very nicely.  They unceremoniously called it the “FTE Handling Change,” but I can tell you that many customers and all of my peers working in Professional Services welcomed this little feature with open arms.  By enabling this feature, the system will automatically prorate the salary range and the basis for budget by the employee’s part-time factor.  No more workarounds or custom calculations needed.  Very, very nice.  This eliminates the many hours it took to analyze the customer’s situation and implement the formulas:  with any workaround, it’s necessary to understand the customer’s unique requirement, think about that, devise a solution involving custom formulas and data handling, explain the solution and the ramifications, allow time for the customer to absorb the proposed solution and sell it internally.  Then you must implement it, and since it’s a custom solution, the customer has to test is more rigorously than if it were just a feature  The potential savings to the customer come in not having to accommodate the technical or organizational ramifications of the workaround.  And they don’t have to test custom calculations.  It’s much easier for both the consultant and the customer.

YP: Let’s step back a bit now. Would you say there is a clear advantage running compensation in the cloud? Many customers are still questioning the security of the compensation data in the cloud. What is your experience?

PS:  I’ve been implementing enterprise compensation systems for a long time, but have focused on SAAS and cloud-based solutions since 1998 and I’ve seen the evolution.  Cloud based compensation systems give organizations the flexibility they need to alter their reward designs as business conditions and the competition for talents changes.  The implementation times are dramatically shorter than they used to be.  The ability to make a design change and propagate that is far simpler.  So Compensation folks can work much more nimbly. 

I worked on a project in 2010 where a major multi-national corporation set up their own technical security team dedicated to ensuring the integrity of the system.  Compensation systems have to be accurate and secure. My experience with security has been excellent and I know that SuccessFactors takes this very seriously.

YP: Last but not least, our readers love to hear about tips and tricks around the solutions. Would you like to share one or two of yours?

Take advantage of the Comp Admin 2.0 design.  If you are a customer, ask your PS Consultant to show you how to navigate through the screens for the sole purpose of being able to look up the source of your data and calculations and key elements of your configuration.   You can implement the Compensation module much more confidently knowing how it’s put together.  It is really easy to look up the sources of your performance ratings, merit guidelines, currency tables, salary ranges, and the calculations in your form.  Previously, this information was harder to discover or was available only to your PS consultant.  Get a copy of the Compensation Administration Guide for Comp Admin 2.0.  It’s completely worth it.

For PS Consultants, use the new Configuration Workbooks!  One quick trick I’ve figured out is that if you’re starting from an existing worksheet or a demo form that the customer already knows or likes, you can select the column names on the screen, copy it, and then paste it “as text” onto the Column Label row of the Form Layout page of the workbook.  Starting a discussion with this workbook page expedites requirements gathering—it is always easier to start from an example than it is starting from scratch.  A bad straw horse is a good thing:  it may not be perfect at the start but it will inspire a good discussion!

YP: thank you very much, Peter!

Learn how new performance and compensation strategies and technologies can give you an edge. Join us and see how to use these innovations to and join the next webinar:

The 21st Century Workforce: Strategies for Success, Performance and Compensation

Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. PDT

Register here today!

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4 Comments

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  1. Katsia Barshchynskaya

    Many thanks to Yannick and Peter for an insightful interview. This was the quote that really piqued my attention and I believe truly reflects the challenges in the taent/compensation space:

    Cloud based compensation systems give organizations the flexibility they need to alter their reward designs as business conditions and the competition for talents changes.

    On the subject of flexibility, I believe it would be interesting for customers to hear more about the Variable Pay module and how it may have benefited from the August 2013 release. My impression so far is that flexibility in the design of Variable Pay schemes has been rather limited as per options provided in the metadata framework.

    Best regards,

    Katsia

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    1. Yannick Peterschmitt Post author

      Hi Katsia,

      thanks a lot for your positive feedback! Your question is spot on. The R&D team is investing a lot in variable pay, and i’ll be able to share more details along the next releases. So please stay tuned!

      best regards Yannick

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