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It is more important than ever for businesses to attract and retain the best talent, and managing compensation effectively is an essential tool for doing so. Obviously companies must pay well to compete, but managing salary, merit pay, variable pay and incentives for employees, tracking their hiring anniversaries and conducting accurate performance appraisals make total compensation management a complex process. All of this must be managed within budget and policy guidelines. As organizations grow and require more employees, the challenges multiply and the difficulty increases. Our benchmark research finds that inconsistent execution is the top impediment to effective compensation management for nearly half (47%) of organizations. Software designed for this purpose can help.
Beqom, which has offered compensation management software since 2009 and previously was known as Excentive International, has advanced its applications to meet these challenges for all business units and especially Human Resources, which typically manages this process. It supports a range of compensation types from salary, merit and bonus pay to long-term incentives and stock options.
Beqom is rated a Hot Vendor in our 2014 Value Index for Total Compensation Management. Each Value Index methodically assesses vendors across seven evaluation categories covering the products and the vendors. Beqom ranks high in several evaluation areas; in particular it tops the list in Capability and ranks second in Manageability. The software’s flexibility in modeling can address all aspects of compensation, including sales compensation, in one application. For example, its ability to handle the variety of crediting from accounts and territories is effective for sales operations teams. In addition its ability to make compensation visually engaging in management of employees and hierarchies and tracking of budgets is simple and engaging. Its ability to define and apply rules and calculation helps support a range of compensation and incentive plans. Its compensation dashboard and reporting simplify oversight and management of compensation. The application has been designed to enable HR and operations professionals to administer and manage compensation processes with minimal IT involvement, which is one reason why it rated so high in Manageability. While beqom does not provide much public information on its advancements from one release to another, and I believe it should do more, it does bring out iterative improvements quarterly through feature packs and makes major new releases annually.
Since the publication of our Value Index, beqom has taken steps to demonstrate its total cost of ownership (TCO), which we found lacking. One unique aspect in which it has invested is to take the complexity of implementation and maintenance costs out of customers’ migration to its software. The company charges a single annual fee to migrate, implement and deploy. Most organizations do not assess costs beyond the use of the software and are surprised by extra fees for migration and implementation. Even in cloud computing there is no magic to migrate a company to a new application environment. Unlike many vendors beqom addresses these issues in procuring software by building in the services needed.
It also is different from others in the market that have integrated compensation management with their talent management suites. While there is value in a unified approach, many organizations don’t want to replace other talent management applications (such as recruiting and performance management) to acquire compensation management through a suite, and beqom’s stand-alone package suits this preference. Even so beqom has integrated its software with talent management applications in customer deployments and can help share compensation information with them.
Our compensation management research finds opportunity for vendors in replacing spreadsheets used for this purpose, which remain prevalent. A large majority (71%) of organizations have found some type of errors in payment that had to be fixed before payment or had to be corrected after the fact. Such problems create challenges in financial accuracy, employee trust and the ability to govern compensation. This is a factor in more finance organizations getting involved to help improve compensation processes; our research finds that in almost one-third of organizations Finance is stepping up to influence improvements. Almost one-fourth of finance departments want direct access to this information for financial planning and analysis. Software such as beqom’s can help organizations replace spreadsheets and more importantly reach the primary goals of compensation management: improvement of efficiency, alignment and performance, which are important to about nine out of 10 participants in our research. Closing the gaps in compensation policies and practices is critical, and managing it effectively and transparently can build confidence and trust among employees.
Seeing is believing with beqom. If you are assessing your current approach and considering changes to simplify compensation management, it is worthwhile to view a demonstration of what it can do.
CEO and Chief Research Officer
In recent years line-of-business applications including accounting, human resources, manufacturing, sales and customer service have appeared in the cloud. Cloud -based software as a service (SaaS) has replaced on-premises applications that were previously part of ERP and CRM environments. They have helped companies become more efficient but have also introduced interoperability challenges between business processes. Their advantage is that cloud software can be rented, configured and used within a day or week. The disadvantage is that they don’t always connect with one another seamlessly, as they used to and when managed by a third party there is limited connectivity to integrate them.
Smooth interoperation is critical for business processes that use ERP. The hybrid computing approach to ERP was assessed by my colleague Robert Kugel, who identified the challenges in these early approaches to ERP in the cloud. As on-premises ERP, these applications were fully connected and integrated with process and data integration wired together through additional technologies. This configurability of ERP has been a large challenge and has led to failed implementations, as Robert noted. Understanding the complexities of ERP today is key to coming up with a solution.
One of the most fundamental business processes in organizations is tracking an order to fulfillment. That needs to be connected without manual intervention for transactional efficiency and to ensure data, analytics and planning are available. In fact our next generation of finance analytics benchmark research finds that ERP is the second-most important source of data being analyzed, after spreadsheets, and is the first-ranked source in almost one-third (32%) of organizations. In the transition to cloud computing this has become more complex. Applications that support the order-to-fulfillment process, for example, are increasingly being used individually in cloud computing, and many are being mingled with on-premises applications that require integration and automation to avoid manual intervention.
To start, orders are created by sales. Sales opportunities are created and closed with products and services purchased by contract or electronically. These must be placed in an order management system through which the record can be used by a multitude of systems and processes. Purchasing and fulfillment details are moved into an invoice as part of a billing application, then entered into accounting and accounts receivable where it is managed to payment. Finance takes orders and consolidates them into reports, typically in a financial performance management system. The order is then provided to manufacturing or fulfillment applications which build and deliver products, then fulfilled through warehouse and distribution management. The customer name and order number is also placed into an application that handles support calls or deploys services.
This is the reality of business today. Many departments and individuals, with different applications, are needed to support orders, fulfillment and service. If these applications are not connected organizations have to perform manual intervention, re-enter data, or copy and paste, which not only wastes time and resources but can introduce errors. Half (56%) of organizations do the integration through spreadsheets or exporting data, with custom coding being second-most popular (for 39%), according to our business data in the cloud research. (I will leave HR applications and the supporting people component out of this process though they play a critical role as an enterprise resource to support the order-to-fulfillment process and are part of many ERP deployments.) In addition performing any level of business planning is not simple as data is needed to determine past performance and plan for the future.
There is no simple way to make all this efficient. It has historically been managed by ERP, usually through a single vendor’s application suite. Now businesses want it done in the cloud, either on-premises or through other cloud applications. Proper attention must be paid to the needs and competencies of the departments and business processes involved. Thus migration and transition to ERP are not simple, nor is building an application architecture that supports process and data efficiently. Assessment and planning are necessary to ensure that risks are addressed. Switching to a new ERP system in the cloud will still require an application architecture to maintain proper operations across departments and existing applications, whether they are on-premises, in a private cloud, in the public cloud or in a hybrid combination. This integration among sales force automation, customer service and other systems is outside the scope of most cloud ERP deployments who have not provided the most robust integration points for the applications and data.
Robert Kugel writes that ERP must take a giant leap in order to operate in the cloud. I agree. Our firm often gets requests for assistance in finding the right approach to ERP and business process. While midsize companies find ERP in the cloud increasingly attractive, there are significant challenges to adapting and integrating such applications as part of business processes, which many customers overlook in their desire for a cloud-based solution. The majority of cloud ERP vendors have not provided integration and workflow of information from their applications to others in an open and seamless manner, complicating deployments and adding unexpected costs for customers.
ERP suppliers moving from on-premises to cloud computing have acknowledged the complexities. Many of the legacy ERP vendors have struggled to enable application interoperability and the differing management requirements of IT and business. This struggle has resulted in a lack of confidence by organizations wishing to migrate to ERP in the cloud and makes them wonder whether to look at alternative approaches with individual applications using integration across them and data to support business processes. Automation is another major concern. The lack of it across business processes has impeded finance groups in closing the books efficiently; our research on the fast, clean close shows many organizations losing four or more days.
In the meantime technological advances in integration technologies that operate in the cloud computing environment can interconnect with on-premises systems. The ability to simultaneously distribute transactions and data across systems makes the ability to architect business processes and workflows a reality. For some organizations the use of business process management and other integration technology approaches are being adopted. The new technologies are able to blend into many applications, so that users do not know they are working on applications from different vendors, nor do they need to know. These advances enable application architecture to interoperate and automate the flow of data from on-premises and cloud computing environments, providing new opportunities to interoperate from ERP or other applications. Many organizations are doing this today, and more than one-third of companies are planning or need to move data from cloud to cloud, cloud to on-premises or on-premises to cloud, data according our business data in the cloud research.
No matter whether a company is in manufacturing or services, they must address the integration complexities to gain efficiency and support growth without adding more resources. While many new ERP providers in the cloud are taking simpler approaches from the applications interface to how it processes transactions, most have not learned the importance of integration to other systems and the need for accessing and integrating data for transactions and analytics. Having consistency of data across applications and systems is a major obstacle in more than one-fifth (21%) of organizations and a minor obstacle in two-fifths (43%), and they find similar difficulties in the complexities of accessing data, according to our business data in the cloud research. In addition they lack effective planning (which of course is the P in ERP), and reporting is less than sufficient and often must be complemented by third-party tools.
All this introduces yet more complexity for business and IT in determining how they can move forward with ERP in the cloud, adapting existing and new applications to interoperate. The outlook for ERP in the cloud is thus uncertain. If these vendors do not adapt to the reality of what their customers want (as opposed to what they want their customers to do), it will remain cloudy. Responding to pressure to take an open approach that is easy to integrate, however, ERP providers could see a sunny forecast.
CEO & Chief Research Officer