Varicent, empowering the Sales Organization
March 12, 2014
Varicent, empowering the Sales Organization
Score 10 out of 10
- Composer, Workflow, Scheduler, Task Manager
Varicent (AKA IBM Cognos ICM) is currently being used in several capacities for my company. First and foremost it is used as a Sales Compensation calculation tool. Additionally it is used for Reporting, Analytics and Accruals. The biggest advantage to using Varicent is the fact that it can be owned by the business organization whereas traditionally systems are owned by the IT organization. In other words, the tool is simple enough to learn that the people closest to Sales Operations and Management can actually create and implement change within the system.
- Sales Compensation - The bread and butter of this software is that it can create everything from the very simplest of pay logic to the most complex of crediting rules
- Sales Compensation Reporting - The reporting tool is quite robust. Dynamic (an often overused term), is completely accurate as a description for the reporting aspect of Varicent. Reports can be created to change depending on the audience, both in content and look and feel.
- Accruals - Our company has some very stringent requirements for Accrual logic, Varicent was able to handle them all
- Modeling - There are numerous methods for modeling change within compensation plans that allow analysts to predict and asses the impact of changes to the plans
- Hierarchies - Whether your hierarchies are driven simply by supervisor ID or by complex combinations of attributes, Varicent can handle it all
- Flexibility - The software is flexible enough to allow you to decide what you want to do, don't want to implement reporting or accruals? No problem. Just want to use Varicent as a reporting tool, also no problem.
- Young Software - Varicent the software company was/is a young company. As such it has a strong focus on customers but is also growing at an extremely fast rate. They are constantly pushing to release the next version of the software and as such it can feel a bit daunting trying to keep up with the latest versions of the software. Luckily, the provide upgrades for free.
- Organizing large amounts of logic within the software can sometimes feel clunky. They attempted to improve the organization in version 7 by introducing the concept of components. It helped, but there is a ton of room for improvement in this area.
- Implementing Varicent allowed our company to move from a 45 day payout cycle down to a 30 day payout cycle.
- Prior to this system, the operations team was able to process roughly 100 special deals and adjustments with a team of 4. With a team of 3, the operations team is capable of processing 275 special deals and adjustments.
- Syngy,Callidus Commissions
At the time of implementation (2009), Syngy had a much more professional and polished look and feel. However, Syngy was a much more Turn Key and hands off solution. We already had that hands off solution in place using our customized PeopleSoft module, so it really didn't offer enough benefit. Callidus offered much more flexibility than Syngy but couldn't handle some of the pay logic we required without making some strange concessions in logic. The decision to go with Varicent was actually quite easy.
Customer support from IBM is impeccable. They are quick to respond and they don't nickel and dime you for every request you make. Their goal is to ensure your success and as a user, I really feel like they listen to my concerns. That's not to say there are no problems. All software has its issues, but I don't feel like those issues fall on deaf ears.
The best advice I can give is to make sure that if the business does intend to own the system, that they have key talent in place and are appropriately compensated. The key talent would have vast knowledge over several areas of the business such as: Compensation Plans, Field Administrative Operations, the organizations Accounting policies, and Sales Operations. On top of understanding the numerous areas of the business, the key talent would also need to have database and system expertise.
5000 - The Sales Staff make up the bulk of the users. However their use of the product is limited to viewing reports. A much smaller group of around 20-30 consist of system administrators that create and implement change along with operations administrators that administer the compensation plans.
3 - These individuals should be the type of people that understand and are completely at home in systems. You can typically know how successfully a person will become with the technical side of the system by how proficient they are in tools like MS Excel. If they are capable of using complex formulas and use VBA scripting or have knowledge of SQL databases, they will pick up learning Varicent quite quickly.
- Sales Compensation
- Sales Compensation Reporting
- Sales Reporting
- Accruals - Although the product is not marketed for complex accrual logic, it has handled our accrual requirements exceedingly well
Evaluation and Selection
Yes - Varicent replaced a custom module of PeopleSoft. We replaced that module because the sales organization no longer wanted to compete with other organizations within the Corporation to implement change. The finite IT resources created a constraint that the Sales Organization should not have had to compete in.
- Product Features
- Product Usability
- Analyst Reports
Being able to own the software as the business users allowed a level of control and flexibility that was not possible with other turn key and provided solutions.
Test test test. Make sure that the product is calculating everyone 100% correctly. DO NOT accept a 70% pass rate as some companies would like to have you believe is acceptable. This means conducting thorough testing by providing 100% of all expected results, but it will be worth it when you know that the compensation plans are working entirely as expected.
Yes - The first phase, after selection was called JAD: Joint Application Design. During this phase we spent two weeks sitting with Varicent and their team all of the various rules and requirements of our compensation plans and accrual logic. The next phase was creation of the logic and testing of that logic in what we called "drops". Each drop represented a logical grouping of calculations that needed to be tested for expected results. Each drop required the full testing of that logic and full regression testing of all drops prior. In other words, we tested every available piece of logic after each drop. This was to ensure that no prior logic was accidently changed by new logic. The next phase was to create reporting, hierarchy, and workflow logic. The next phase was a parallel between our previous system and to train employees on the new system for two months. The final phase was to go live with the product.
Change management was a big part of the implementation and was well-handled - Change management is always about making sure you have the right people in the room. Make sure you SME's are present for planning because they can and will be able to tell you the more complicated aspects of logic that may take longer to implement than others. When implementing logic within the new system, never ask what the old system did, always ask what the new system is supposed to do. You never know how something might have been done wrong in the prior system.
Giving a 10 would suggest there is no room for improvement. I don't feel like their support is perfect. However, I have never met another team that was more dedicated to making sure we get what we want and need.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
Immediate help available
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
No - I believe we only have the normal support. I am not aware of premium support. However, I'm not sure how it would be any better than the current support we get. We dictate the severity and priority of any issues, they respond accordingly.
Yes - The bug we ran into was quite severe, it took several weeks to identify the root cause. Once the cause was identified, Varicent created a custom patch within the month. This sounds like a long time to resolve the problem, and for business users... it is. However, for a software company to turn around a complete fix and a custom fix at that, in such a time period - it's extraordinary.
Our systems team was very apprehensive about upgrading from version 6 to version 7 of the software due to the major changes within the user interface in addition to something called wrapping. Our system had over 3000 pieces of logic and it was going to be a very daunting task to put each of those pieces of logic into the appropriate components. At no cost, Varicent provided a dedicated resource to help us through this upgrade process along with several other tertiary resources to help facilitate the transition.
The system is very usable, there is room for improvement. As the new versions come out each year, they continue to create polish in the different aspects of the software. There are some areas like creating web forms where the development environment doesn't work quite as one would hope, but that is also an area where they are constantly improving.
Like to use
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Feel confident using
Lots to learn