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Part 3 of 3 – Gaining Maximum Buy-In and End User Engagement for ICM Reports

In this blog series about the consulting approach to reports in an incentive compensation management (ICM) tool, or any other commissions management tool, we’ve explored the overarching design rules of thumb, as well as formatting and visual best practices for intuitive report navigation. In this final installment, we’ll discuss the top three tips from our consultants to maximize the usefulness of ICM reports for end users. These tips include: 1. Have flawless accuracy in your report calculations, 2. Provide tools to answer common questions and fill anticipated needs, and 3. Invite end user engagement through concrete pages and activities.

1 “Make sure your calculations have flawless accuracy.”

Ultimately, the highest aim in a report calculation is to avoid future recalculations. Even if you’re off by a few cents, corporate would want you to recalculate to make sure you always get it right. Make sure no numbers are left in question, because once the sales team loses confidence in the data, they will start to pull out their own calculators and it’s downhill from there. You’ve ultimately lost, because you’ve lost their trust. Once they begin to recalculate everything themselves, sales reps may spend twice as long looking at reports—taking them away from selling activities—and potentially even criticizing the comp plan.

I would urge everyone on a project to pull out a calculator, do the math, and see if the report is accurate. Even if it’s a penny off in rounding, it’s going to raise a question and prompt someone in the field to send an email. Will that one penny be worth the 10 minutes it takes to respond to their email? The ripple effect it has of reading and responding to the email is just a headache. So check for the accuracy of report calculations, including correct (and appropriate) rounding.

2 "Fill in the knowledge gaps with tools and resources."

Great report portals and dashboards anticipate that end users will have a mostly common pool of questions that can be anticipated so that answers are readily available even before they’re asked. Add value to end users by including the following items in the report portal:

  • FAQ tab: Have comp admins take all questions that come in from the field through phone or email and add them within the web portal in an FAQ section.
  • Tutorials page: Especially if there is a completely new way to access and generate reports, include a tutorials page that provides training materials such as PDFs and videos.
  • Hyperlink tool tips (question mark button): For any calculation, anticipate questions by including a hyperlink (or question mark button) that takes them to an explanation of how the calculation works. 
  • Support (preferably live support): Report portals should include a place for end users to submit questions and report issues so they can be resolved in a timely manner.

Ulimately, these tools should answer questions from end users before they ask them so they can maximize their time selling or managing. The sales comp team’s time will also be maximized, creating a win-win scenario. It is well worth the investment to call out areas that warrant explanation, such as complicated calculations, and provide additional information up front that the field might need. These tools empower, educate, and motivate end users to engage with the report tool and get the information they need to do their jobs faster and better.

3 Get the end users engaged in the web portal

Finally, before launching the new report tool, strategize the best ways to encourage end users to take ownership of the new system. This happens by engaging end users through specific actions that might include:

  • Creating a suggestion box. Have a specific input form or tab where end users can type in suggestions for what they would want to see. This might reveal things that didn’t come up during initial design discussions.
  • Holding a contest for best ideas or to identify issues. Have the end users beta test the tool by going through the report portal and identifying all issues and potential issues, even giving a prize to the user who identifies the most number of issues during the testing period. Another way to encourage a sense of ownership of the tool can include asking end users to name the tool.
  • Allowing users to add notes to their report. If end users have questions that come up while reviewing the new report tool, they should be able to make notes directly on the page where they have their questions. This will allow them to pull up questions and issues while in the manager’s office or through a screen share, rather than having to remember the issue and try to explain it without a visual.

Ultimately, report tools should be tailored to match the average end user’s needs. A successful ICM reporting tool will give end users the information they need, as well as total confidence in the calculations, in a format they can read best. ICM tools are implemented to drive positive behavior, and this can only be done when the tool communicates the right information quickly and clearly. When considering the investment in designing a new report system, or just a reformatted version of the current one, consider how to empower end users so they can do what they do best, even better.

Have specific questions about updating your ICM report portal, or changing the way your sales comp organization does reporting altogether? Join us for a FREE two-hour workshop with OpenSymmetry consultants to evaluate your current state of reporting and discuss potential roadmaps to a better future state. Thanks for joining us for this series – if you found it helpful, subscribe to the OpenSymmetry blog for more industry news, consulting best practices, and ICM tips!

Robert Rhea

robert.rhea@opensymmetry.com
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