spm evaluation2Buying enterprise software, I’ve always thought, is a lot like buying a house. It’s a big investment and something you want to get right the first time with few surprises and at the right price. In both cases, shrewd professional insight when navigating the choices is helpful.

When I speak to clients about incentive compensation management (ICM) or broader sales performance management (SPM) technology, the conversation is often about the universe of vendors and their respective solutions. Many times people will know of a couple of vendors in the space, either from cold-callers to their organization or meeting someone at a conference.

“Which one is the best?” and “Which one should I choose?” are common questions. My response is often the classic consultant answer: “It depends ...”

A Google search finds dozens of companies that say they have ICM/SPM software and their Web sites probably feature at least one logo of a marquee company that they call a customer. A number of research firms like Gartner, Forrester and Ventana Research cover the space, and they will each have their favorites.

Unfortunately, these analysts are picking based on their definition of good and who has the right footprint of functionality—and not on the specific features and functionality you are looking for. The number of potential solutions may be daunting and determining a short list—let alone a single right answer—will be difficult.

One of the benefits of bringing in an expert is to help determine what vendor solutions best match your specific needs and aspirations from a new technology purchase. Like a top-notch real estate agent on a house hunt, an expert ICM/SPM evaluator can quickly narrow down the laundry list of possible vendors to a manageable selection of three to five.

Have to go through a RFI/RFP process? Don’t underestimate how long it takes. Putting together the business case for change, gathering a comprehensive list of requirements from all the stakeholders, constructing the RFP, putting together scorecards, tailoring custom demonstration scripts, holding reference calls, going through final negotiation and contracting, and coordinating both internal resources and the vendors all take time.

Hiring a consultancy that has the experience of supporting many ICM/SPM vendor selection projects will bring expertise, methodology, tools and templates, and ensure an effective and efficient process. This allows you to focus on the most important aspect of the selection process: the decision!

Buying new enterprise technology on your own can be risky as there are a lot of unknowns. Here are five to consider:

  1. What is fair market pricing?  
  2. Am I getting a good deal? 
  3. What items are negotiable?
  4. Are the vendors responding genuinely to the RFP or just checking all the boxes to avoid being eliminated from the process?
  5. If the solution does have the right feature and functions, how hard is it to implement and maintain?

Ultimately, you want to get the decision right for both your organization and yourself. Hiring a consultancy for either over-the-shoulder guidance to minimize risk or to lead the vendor solution project can save you a lot of unnecessary time and effort and will maximize your chances of making a great decision.

Are you in the market for an ICM/SPM solution? If so, are you going it alone deciding on the right solution—or using an outside party for selection support? What benefits or challenges have you seen?


Topics: incentive compensation management (ICM), sales performance management (SPM), Justin Lane