Ensuring effective support is an essential part of any Incentive Compensation Management implementation. There are four main components to establishing your ICM support model. First is the transition itself from the implementation team to the support team. Second, you need to determine your operational readiness. Third, establish a plan for any last minute critical contingencies, and lastly ensure you have the proper resources in place and a plan for if and when those resources change.
It’s important to note that once implemented your model will be maintained by a small but expert team and you want to ensure that any turnover within this team won’t negatively impact your operation.
Building a Bridge Between Your Incentive Compensation Implementation and Support Teams
The transition between implementation and support is twofold. The first is the transference of knowledge, and the second is the transference of the relationship. In this, each contains its own set of challenges.
When it comes to the initial knowledge transfer between your ICM implementation team your support team we recommend the following 3 guidelines:
- Your support team should start to get involved about 4 weeks prior to the end of the project. This allows for the necessary time to build a working knowledge of the requirements and client’s business processes, get familiarized with the nature of incoming data feeds, the naming conventions, the overall architecture of the model and build working rapport with the client team.
- Support should work on some QA/UAT tickets under the supervision of the project team. This allows your support team to wade into the model and get familiar with how it works, how to troubleshoot, while still having the safety net of the project team in place.
- Use tracking tools like Confluence, Jira, or similar. During the project phase, the conversations are frequent and stay fresh in everyone's memory, but this key knowledge can be hard to find, or even lost once the project team rolls off. Documenting along the way avoids guesswork and prevents improper assumptions from being made, which can save a lot of time and money in the future.
Transferring this important ICM engagement requires careful consideration from both the project and the support side. As with any transition the first few weeks are critical and the readiness of the support team cannot be overstated. In an ideal situation everything goes live as planned, however in a less than ideal scenario there can be delays with data, or testing, or even budget constraints. This can mean your Incentive Compensation Management system transitions to support before it’s been fully tested, which is all the more reason to ensure your support team is ready to tackle every challenge that comes its way.
Ensuring a Smooth Transition – Operational Readiness of an Incentive Compensation Management System
Determining your operational readiness can best be summed by answers to the following questions. Do you have a process? What are the expectations? How will you handle training?
Your process should define standard operating procedures and support your business stakeholders. Your expectations should clearly set the parameters for a defect vs a change request, and your training should include a plan for both the comp admins and the field users.
Preparing for Critical Contingencies During your Incentive Compensation Cycle
To ensure you’re well covered during any critical contingencies we recommend the following 3 techniques:
- Keep QA/DEV environment in sync with your production environment.
- This will help you recreate scenarios & test
- Build a Basic Know-How Document.
- Outline one-click tasks, basic debugging, setup etc.
- Create Quick Validation Tools.
- Ensure you can catch configuration errors
There are certain time periods in an incentive compensation process that are more critical than others. It is important to identify these situations and have specific solutions and knowledge base in place to tackle these scenarios. A common example is the payroll processing period. During this time, there is a strain on the compensation admin resources, especially if there is an error in any of the payouts resulting in multiple queries from the field. This can be avoided by having specific tools to validate and resolve common errors that might arise during payroll processing.
Establishing Complete Procedures to Maintain Proper Resource Allocation
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure your support foundation is solid, and is not dependent on any one person or process. This way you minimize the risk that your support team will be hindered by any turnover. You can do this by centralizing your system knowledge (including all change requests and testing info), centralizing your process knowledge (like your comp admin calendar) and standardizing any process that is utilized by multiple departments.
In summary, the most effective support models are ones that plan and allocate time for the transition, evaluate operational readiness before going live, identify areas of concern, and prepare for eventual personnel turnover. By ensuring you’ve covered off each of these areas you can be confident that that the support your team requires will always be ready and prepared for whatever issue may arise.
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