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July 1, 2006
Jim Lazarz, director of sales compensation, CUNA Mutual Group, as told to Colin Beasty
Secret of My Success: Pay Dirt
Why sales compensation? Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Mutual Group is a financial services company with two customer bases. One half of our customers are the credit unions we do business with. They're our B2B customers. The other half of our business is providing an array of financial services such as insurance and mutual funds to credit union members. They're our business to member (B2M) customers. As a result, we have complex sales compensation plans with multiple data feeds. In total, we process about 1.5 million transactions a month with about 4,000 payees in the system. We were using a 15-year-old legacy mainframe system from a vendor that had long since gone out of business. We also used a Microsoft Access database that we had put some bells and whistles on. Both had serious disadvantages. Sometimes it would take us months to administer a new compensation plan. We needed to reduce our own labor and IT costs to maintain the old system. Finally, the old system relied on paper reports, so we were shipping boatloads of paper every month. We needed a robust, Internet-based enterprise incentive management (EIM) system.
How did you select a vendor? We sent out nine RFIs in mid-2001 to sizeable vendors within the EIM space. Only four companies felt they could deal with our demands, so we had them conduct generic software demos for us. After we narrowed the selection to two companies, we picked Callidus Software. We implemented Callidus TrueComp, TrueInfo, and TrueAnalytics. Its software was the best match for our business models, IT and software requirements, and price.
How did the implementation unfold? The implementation unfolded as planned and was started in February of 2002. Our target was to go live in the end of the third quarter of that year, but all of our sales plans are year-to-date plans. We realized it didn't make sense to start the new system during the middle of the year. In addition, we didn't want to use generic reports. We needed to customize all of them, so the report development took a little longer than originally planned. In the end, it all worked out well. We went live with the B2M part in January of 2003. We went live with the B2B part at the end of the first quarter of 2003 since those sales plans are on a quarterly basis.
How did you get everybody on board? One of the biggest reasons a company will switch to a new EIM solution is because it's not paying its people correctly. That was not the case here. The big thing was getting everybody, both our in-house sales force and the credit unions we work with, trained on Callidus. We notified them about the change months before the go-live date and sent out training material and WebX presentations so they could familiarize themselves.
What have been the main rewards? We've dramatically improved our ability to administer compensation plans. Tasks that took weeks and months are now done in hours or days, sometimes minutes. The Internet reporting has been a huge improvement and has enabled us to cut back on the paper reports. From a competitive standpoint, we've improved our reporting to our credit unions. It was important we do that because we didn't want to lose customer cases that would have otherwise been decided by the reporting. Finally, we've lowered our total cost of ownership expenses.
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