SPM Solution Management & Administration – Resource Planning

Setting Expectations For Managing An SPM Solution To Ensure Ongoing Value


SPM software solutions can empower business users, making them less dependent on internal IT talent and external resources to manage and maintain their sales compensation program. This independence offers users more control over their sales compensation platform and compensation data.

Smaller companies or those with simplistic SPM processes can often remain independent of outside resources after deployment with the right level of training. But companies with complicated SPM operations (e.g., complex data requirements, crediting & comp plans, business intelligence needs) may find it challenging to obtain self-sufficiency post-deployment without significant training/onboarding investments.

Maintaining or obtaining self-sufficiency and reduced reliance on external resources for the long term is challenging, especially without a clear understanding of what it will take to not only manage your SPM solution but ensure it develops long-term.

In this guide, we will provide an overview of:

  • Satisfaction with SPM Capabilities after go-live
  • What it means to be operationally competent
  • Defining the right mix of self-sufficiency for your organization
  • Creating an SPM training roadmap to support enablement
  • How managed services help companies reach their goals

We will highlight common pitfalls that can derail an SPM program, showing why a structured approach will help client companies achieve optimal value following initial deployment.


Challenges Related to Ongoing SPM Management

As an organization focused on the SPM space, OpenSymmetry frequently conducts surveys and research efforts on leading software solutions. In partnership with the Sales Management Association, OpenSymmetry sponsored a survey of current clients of well-known and smaller SPM providers so we could gather their insights and define the value companies receive from their SPM solution investment.

In the survey results below, we can see a drop in satisfaction from the initial capabilities offered to the ongoing management of the platform. While this points to the fact that participants were perhaps less happy with managing these solutions than they were with the capabilities, the more concerning observation is that this drop in satisfaction happened more significantly within the critical core areas of calculation logic, payee crediting, and platform integration.



Understanding the ongoing management seems to be a challenge for SPM users (based on survey feedback), it calls out the need to ensure an effective strategy for managing these systems post-go-live lest you end up in a similar situation. This will be important for companies that change compensation plans or crediting rules frequently. For firms who want to achieve SPM platform self-sufficiency, they will need to create an operational strategy, in advance of deployment, for managing these programs after going live.


Becoming Operationally Competent

Achieving self-sufficiency requires firms to competently manage their SPM solution capabilities post-deployment, including daily processing and ongoing configuration, in addition to systems and data management. While there will still be an outreach to software vendors for SPM technical support, such as upgrades and bug fixes, the client company should be able to address all other issues that arise or become operationally competent.

Before deploying an SPM solution, companies must define the level of ongoing maintenance and support they wish to own in-house vs. outsourced. While there will be differences based on the size and complexity of each client firm, the following provides examples of activities related to each of these three areas.

For those who want to achieve self-sufficiency, operational competency is far from an all-or-nothing proposition. Each SPM client is unique and must define the level of operational competency they can reasonably achieve and, more importantly, maintain. Some companies can fulfill all responsibilities, while others may require external support for certain functions.

Below are two examples of how clients approached their operational competency requirements.

In these examples, we can see that Company A decided to handle only the day-to-day aspects of the SPM administration while depending on external expertise for complex tasks. Alternatively, Company B employed a more aggressive self-sufficiency strategy by taking on all three operational competency disciplines, including administration, system monitoring, and configuration, using a targeted training strategy.

During the initial planning stages of an SPM solution deployment, companies must consider what level of operational competency they want to achieve for both the short and long term. In addition, if a company decides to outsource some of these functions, it is critical to define the level of vendor support they will need before choosing an SPM solution.


Defining The Right Mix of Self-Sufficiency

Regardless of company size or platform complexity, firms must first define their future state or ideal governance model to ensure that the SPM investment aligns with their business goals. The governance model will guide the level of self-sufficiency that an organization can realistically achieve. As part of this process, the company should first take a deep dive into the business processes and resources they need to support their SPM solution.

By defining the current and, more importantly, the to-be or future business processes (as a result of SPM solution deployment), the client can clearly see the level of ongoing support required to achieve the ideal future governance state. In addition, process mapping defines management expectations and self-sufficiency requirements (vs. external resource requirements), ensuring that the right mix of resources is available for post-go-live SPM platform support.

Three components that can be utilized to help determine the appropriate level of self-sufficiency:

  • BUSINESS PROCESS MAPPING to define all future state business processes and potential ownership requirements
  • RESOURCE ALLOCATION ASSESSMENT to determine the optimal mix of talent and expertise
  • RACI MATRIX to outline future governance state of relationships and functions

Step 1: Business Process Mapping

When introducing an SPM solution to your current program or re-deploying a new SPM solution, companies should review and define expectations for ongoing management.

This process defines the future state of business processes, setting the stage for required resources. Notwithstanding the introduction of technology, this is an opportunity to redefine business processes, so they better align with company goals and SPM best practices. The following provides a high-level example of a process map for SPM.

Process maps should be completed for all affected areas and are the first step to understanding the level of self-sufficiency a company can attain. Once a company defines what processes need to be completed, it can decide who (or what) needs to perform them.


Step 2: Optimal Allocation of Resources

After defining future state processes, it is necessary to determine the most efficient resource allocation strategy. Properly allocating resources requires an honest and unbiased assessment of in-house talent, skills, and capabilities. However, most companies will look to external resources to fill talent gaps that complement in-house talent. To evaluate internal vs. external expertise, a company should assess these four attributes:

  • ACCUMULATED EXPERIENCE. Employee turnover will affect a company’s ability to manage its SPM solution. That is why firms often rely on third-party resources that have the advantage of many years of expertise in providing ongoing management of SPM solutions.
  • ADVANCED TRAINING. Combining internal mentorship and formal training programs will accelerate SPM expertise. However, external providers typically have higher training standards in SPM solution technology and experience working with multiple clients and industries.
  • TIME SAVINGS. Building internal expertise is possible but takes time, even with proper direction and the best training resources. That is why leveraging external resources usually results in faster implementation and adoption.
  • REDUCED COST. Internal resources can be expensive, are rarely focused on one type of expertise, and require time to build knowledge through trial and error. That is why many companies frequently find external resources more cost-effective because they pay for specific knowledge for a limited time, calling upon SPM talent as needed.

The correct level of SPM proficiency requires optimizing resources, whether internal or external, for the ongoing support of their SPM solution. Once all business processes and required talent are defined, the company can clearly define the future governance state of its SPM solution.


Step 3: Develop a RACI Matrix to Outline Future State Governance Model

Once the future state business processes and the required talent resources are defined, a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix will document the different relationships for each future-defined process. Since SPM solutions process information across the business enterprise, the client team must assess each functional area’s role and level of involvement.

This analysis enables a high-level overview of leveraging many types of resources for long-term success. As a result, companies can more easily determine training needs, job aids, coaching, business processes, error handling, status management, and other pertinent activities required as part of ongoing SPM management.

Each company will determine its level of SPM self-sufficiency using the combination of processes and expertise that helps them achieve its desired future state. In addition, as companies receive greater value from their SPM investment, they can re-evaluate their strategies and resources to gain even higher levels of self-sufficiency.

The Training Roadmap

SPM self-sufficiency at go-live is achievable as long as the company identifies the training curriculum and schedule before launch. Educating internal resources takes time and must be carefully planned to provide deployment support and ongoing management.

SPM vendors and service integration firms, such as OpenSymmetry, offer a wide range of training options. After evaluating business processes, required resources, and the desired governance model, these third parties work closely with their clients to provide the correct level of training to the right resources. Receiving appropriate training during the engagement will better support the go-live governance model.

Below is a client example from a training plan developed for an organization that initiated an SPM deployment. The boxes signify the number of resources assigned to each training component given their roles on the project (ex: UAT Tester) to support long-term SPM success.


After determining the type of training each role requires, the vendor and client team create a training schedule. Each training module should coincide with the appropriate engagement phase to ensure timely delivery of the training material. Overlaying a training timeline on the project timeline is a convenient way to ascertain the best time to deliver the information. As SPM project timelines fluctuate, team leaders can adjust training components and module updates accordingly.


A final roadmap component for consideration would be developing job aids and operational guides near the end of the deployment. The team should consider creating reference guides that the team can use for cross-training and reference, which are especially valuable for completing tasks they perform less frequently (ex: end-of-year updates).


Shared Services & Managed Services Can Support Self-Sufficiency Goals

It is rare for an SPM client company to become 100% self-sufficient. Our research shows that approximately 80% of firms will use some degree of post-go-live support. In fact, many firms may not be able to invest in a robust SPM platform and opt to engage with an external consulting firm or the SPM vendor’s professional services team to fill talent gaps. This approach serves to optimize resources while still achieving software governance goals.

As the data indicates, 40% of companies choose to leverage external SPM implementation support for up to six months post-go-live. Approximately one in five, 21%, used shared services on a continual basis.

Before considering shared services for SPM support, it is important to conduct the three steps that determine the right level of self-sufficiency. These assessment steps define the processes, talent resources, and governance model for firms to consider before engaging with an SPM vendor. This exercise lays the groundwork for a successful SPM implementation and ongoing management needs, providing specific feedback on noticeable gaps or areas of significant risk. Performing these steps before speaking with a managed service provider will ensure your discussions focus on the areas of greatest need, so you obtain the appropriate level of support.


SPM Proficiency

Firms that successfully deploy and maintain SPM solutions have two distinct characteristics. First, they plan early. They identify their coverage goals and the steps needed to get there. They understand what they need to do to become operationally competent. Their teams determine their post-deployment coverage needs before the project begins, allowing for the proper level of required resources, tracking, and plan adjustments.

Second, they use post-deployment external support. Most firms do not recreate the wheel and understand that 80% of companies use external resources for a reason. Unless they are in the minority of companies with a high degree of self-sufficiency, they know that some external support and budget are required to protect their SPM investment.

Each company defines the level of self-sufficiency that helps it achieve its business goals. Leveraging external consulting and vendor resources is an integral part of the SPM journey, helping to protect a client company’s SPM investment while capitalizing on the capabilities that 75% of companies know they need to remain competitive.

pdf on computer icon

Want The PDF Version?

OpenSymmetry Global Offices

About Us

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.