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Case Study: Objectives

for a sales organisation

A performance management system for a sales force of 400 representatives.

Performance Objectives

Senior management sets sales targets, and the sales representatives agree their own performance objectives with their direct managers. Results against these targets and objectives produce ratings, and those ratings are used to calculate cash bonuses to be paid to the representatives.

Our customer’s IT helpdesk provides first–line support of the client application, supported by a comprehensive 42–page manual. We handle second– and third–level support. We manage the server and its database, connecting over our customer’s VPN.

The system is built on our Escape Velocity software platform. This provides the sometimes connected paradigm that allows the sales representatives to continue working on their objectives even when they’re in the field in remote areas without telephone coverage.

Upload configuration

The client is installed from an MSI package, so our customer’s IT department can push new versions to the users’ laptops using their standard infrastructure.

It includes a facility to send log files and configuration details to the server as part of the day–to–day data synchronization. This way we can diagnose users’ problems without having to navigate them through the file system and show them how to use WinZip.

The server integrates with Active Directory and automatically recognizes new users provisioned by the IT department.

Each month the sales manager uploads actual sales figures, and the system automatically calculates scores based on the sales–versus–target result and the product’s weighted importance. Sales representatives manage their personal performance objectives in collaboration with their managers.

Objectives ratings

The system automatically calculates an overall score for each employee, based on their sales and objectives results, and this overall score determines the employee’s performance bonus payment. This ensures that employees’ incentive payments faithfully reflect their in–the–field performance.

Objectives and performance results are confidential, visible only to the representative and his or her reporting chain. A manager can see her team’s objectives, but not those of any other team.

The system is used by about 400 sales representatives, both in the field and in the office. Representatives can update their data anywhere and anytime, even in remote areas where there is no mobile telephone coverage.

Objectives administration

The sales manager has a more fully–featured program that allows her to do back–office maintenance, including assigning sales targets, loading monthly sales figures, running reports, defining territories, and so on.

Reports can be exported to Microsoft Excel or Word.

Our customer faced two major problems with their original Excel–based objectives system. First, while a representative’s direct manager was fully involved in his objectives, higher–level managers had little or no visibility of them. This made it difficult to ensure that the business’s objectives were permeating the entire organisation. Second, confusion about who had the latest version of various spreadsheets gave rise to errors in assessing people’s performance, and correcting these errors sometimes meant exceeding the budget.

Visibility of calculations

Our custom system solved both of these problems. Managers at all levels have full access to the objectives of everyone underneath them in the management hierarchy. A manager at any level can thus ensure that all the people who report to him have objectives that align with his own. And objectives data are stored in a central database, so everyone always has the latest version.

The system also provides full visibility of how the final payment figures are calculated, so managers can be sure that their bonus budgets are being allocated in accordance with their assessments of their team’s objectives.

This transparency allows the sales manager to answer all employees’ queries about how their bonus payment was calculated. This has led to improved employee satisfaction in the administration of their incentives payments.

Because the system automatically calculates scores and payments based on the organisation’s business rules, the sales manager can focus on the definition of those rules and policies rather than on the mechanics of implementing them.