From Strategy to Service

How a global product company achieved SPM ultimate success with the help of a bowtie

Royal DSM is a global, purpose-led, science-based company employing 23,000 people worldwide specializing in solutions for Nutrition, Health & Sustainable Living.

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For 3 years, DSM was using a well-established solution to deliver their various variable pay and sales compensation programs across their wide-ranging customer and business sales teams. DSM’s legacy SPM Solution provider (Optymyze) advised them that there would be no renewal available, and they would have a very limited amount of time before their contract would end and they would be without a solution. This presented significant risk to the DSM Comp Team as their annual calculation processes could not be completed and would require significant human intervention to manually complete and ensure their salesforce was paid their most important paycheck of the year.

In addition, not having a solution also meant that other key processes including annual goal setting or monthly performance calculations could not be completed, resulting in process inefficiencies and errors, as well as being poorly received by the salesforce – a major source of dissatisfaction and potentially would impact company revenue.

Following a chance meeting, OpenSymmetry explained how they have helped guide other companies through similar challenges. OpenSymmetry introduced DSM to their bowtie process and explained how it is a proven methodology that would offer DSM the opportunity to overcome current adversity and deliver a solution that would not only replace their legacy solution, but would also provide a solid foundation where it could be easily expanded across the wider company.


DSM Comp Team saw the immediate benefits that the OpenSymmetry bowtie would bring to their current situation, as it allowed DSM business stakeholders to consider if the multitude of existing tools delivering sales performance analytics (already owned by DSM) could be leveraged. Using already established programs would allow the DSM team to save on the potential expense of yet another vendor. Intrigued to put the bowtie to the test, DSM sought guidance from OpenSymmetry regarding how they would address the current situation and manage business stakeholder perception.

Assess Opportunities:

To help ensure that DSM would undertake a thorough strategic approach, OpenSymmetry met with the DSM team to complete an assessment of their current program and application ecosystem. By leveraging their expertise, they were able to callout the major considerations associated with determining if DSM could utilize a home-grown solution to replace their legacy SPM solution.

Mischa Bijl, Total Reward Manager for DSM, explains, “OpenSymmetry helped us perform a full ‘build vs buy’ analysis including key considerations and common risks when considering in-house solutions vs purchasing an SPM solution from the market, which, when followed, it soon became apparent that implementation of external technology provided a better functional fit and future proofing.”

Plan & Prepare:

With DSM stakeholders now aligned that a new SPM solution would be needed, the DSM Comp Team felt overwhelmed regarding the next step and how they should approach it – especially with their fast-approaching deadline looming.

Once again, through the adopting of the bowtie approach, OpenSymmetry explained that rather than jumping into solution selection mode, DSM would be best served if they undertook an effort to identify what was most critical, when challenges needed to be addressed by, and what use cases each challenge impacted. This would lay the foundation for DSM to know what the chosen solution would need to address the immediate challenges.

Very quickly, by following the bowtie approach, DSM was able to start breaking their challenges down and start establishing what their critical path looked like, as well as what use cases each challenge would need to address.

When assessment and planning efforts are conducted through a thoughtful and holistic, companies can clearly define:

• The as-is process and where urgent tasks could be deferred based on their importance
• Use cases – what they will consume and produce, and offers insight into input/outputs
• Breaking down the impossible into digestible blocks to make conversations more proactive
• A well-defined plan inclusive of critical path and major challenges
• Where there are gaps in their current process
• How users will interface and use their new strategic tool
• Areas of opportunity where work could be completed outside of the technology to expedite and streamline the overall solution deployment and implementation

Solution Selection:

With a critical path in place, plus knowing key dates and when major challenges needed to be addressed by, DSM requested OpenSymmetry guide them through a vendor selection process. They sought to be reassured that they would be investing in the solution most appropriate to their needs.

Through completion of workshops to understand what the chosen solution must do, OpenSymmetry helped DSM identify use cases related to immediate challenges and consider how they would interface with the solution in the future. OpenSymmetry explained how considering future state goals was key to maximizing any investment and that by only focusing on their current challenges would significantly limit this.

By execution of solution demos focused on current and future state use cases, differentiation was now created between the solution providers. Once this was collated afterwards by OpenSymmetry, and it was now known how well suited each solution was, DSM saw that Varicent exhibited capabilities that were critical to their SPM program and as a result, they selected Varicent as their chosen SPM provider.

Bijl further explained, “OpenSymmetry offered us a structured approach and management support for vendor selection by understanding what we needed, what was out there in the market, and what solution would fit our purpose best. We are a P&O Function and we have little expertise in Sales Performance Management technology, other than our knowledge of our current solution. OpenSymmetry understood the ins and outs of a Sales Comp Program and our requirements and wishes, so they could help us challenge the different technologies, but also our own considerations in this process.”

Configure & Deploy:

Once the agreed plan was in place and a vendor was selected, DSM was able to successfully launch their SPM solution deployment. By initially identifying what was most crucial, the annual processes that could not be completed in the legacy solution was now automated in the new solution. Concerns around manual intervention and salesforce disengagement were no more.

With their major challenges now addressed, the legacy system could be truly replaced with additional deployment phases around goal setting and monthly performance completed in the new solution. Each one further decreasing the risks imposed by what resulted in a 13-week deadline to transition off the legacy system.

Key considerations regarding the deployment of the Varicent solution include:

1 | Define a Min Viable Product (MVP)
Given that tight timelines involved with this migration off the legacy system, the team had to define what would be needed to meet DSM’s minimum SPM/ICM requirements in the shortest amount of time. To complete this effort the team leveraged workshops to take a hard look at what was going to be critical to paying the salesforce while also ensuring the overall design of the system accommodated future changes and growth.

2 | Migration from Optymyze
The legacy system had been in place for some time, and it was important to understand the impact of migrating the sales organization from this old system to the new one. Certain efforts were made to adopt reports and workflows that had been working to ensure minimal disruption while taking advantage of newer, more functional, capabilities.

3 | Requirements/Use Cases
Leveraging the legacy system set up/documentation and assessment workshop efforts, DSM checked all the boxes by developing/reviewing the variety of use cases to add more business logic into the new solution, which reduced the level of exposure associated with moving from the previous SPM solution to their new SPM solution.

Program Adoption:

With their core SPM solution now in place, DSM could fully focus on delivering successful end user adoption. Again, by adopting the bowtie approach, OpenSymmetry guided DSM through workshops that focused on determining what the main drivers and risks were, and once conducted, helped DSM to conclude that to effect positive change with least impact, they needed to keep things as familiar as possible. This meant keeping salesforce end user experience as similar as possible.

Bijl explains, “It was quite stressful because we had to tell our business leaders that we were decommissioning the current tool on December 12th, just before you start closing the year. And the general experience with implementing a tool is that it takes up to a year, or months, to get up-and-running.”

Process & Tech Support:

Given that the initial deployment timelines did not give DSM time to ramp up internal resources, OpenSymmetry was able to provide post go-live coverage to DSM for bespoke tech and biz ops support through monitoring their day-to-day processes through:

• Proactive analysis of solution performance to identify process degradation, which when occurring can be addressed before having any negative impact
• Ensuring technical queries can be handled within the company SLA’s while DSM administrators continue to build out their product knowledge
• Continued solution enablement to DSM admin users to enhance product knowledge and increase level of self-suffi ciency on daily administrative use cases and basic change management
• Offer knowledge, guidance, and oversight of new initiatives and campaigns where the solution needs to be expanded across a wider company footprint

Assess & Improve:

Since replacing their DSM solution with the bowtie approach, the DSM Comp Team were inundated with requests to expand its footprint and to extend its capabilities across new business functions. While positive engagement is exactly what customers originally hope for, it can also present some signifi cant challenges when there is no governance model in place.

What OpenSymmetry often perceive to be the fi nal piece of the success jigsaw, workshops were once again conducted to understand the current change management model and to identify how could change continue to be implemented in a structured manner while keeping the salesforce and business positivity in check.

Through the adoption of a structured model that focused on clear communication and realistic timelines, DSM is able to transparently manage all requests through a process where change happens and is done so with appropriate controls.

The Results:

This project helped DSM move from reactive to proactive.

Armed with all data points across in-house and new technology, DSM was able to make a more informed decision based upon the reality of today, next year, and the years after that. As a result, DSM decided that a new technology was required.

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About DSM:

Royal DSM is a global, purpose-led, sciencebased company active in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living. DSM’s purpose is to create brighter lives for all. Our products and solutions address some of the world’s biggest challenges while simultaneously creating economic, environmental and
societal value for all its stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, and society at large.

To learn more, visit

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“OpenSymmetry helped us perform a full ‘build vs buy’ analysis including key considerations and common risks when considering in-house solutions vs purchasing an SPM solution from the market, which, when followed, it soon became apparent that implementation of external technology provided a better functional fit and future proofing.”

Mischa Bijl

Total Rewards Manager, DSM

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OpenSymmetry enables clients to achieve greater operational efficiency and get better sales results. We are a global consulting company specializing in the planning, implementation, and optimization of industry leading technology suppliers of sales performance management solutions.