Ironside Case Study: RSA Builds Sales Rep Trust with SPM

Team trust building concept

In the age of cloud-based applications and anytime access across many devices, having digital security in place that’s smart, flexible, and reliable is essential. Every day, RSA sales reps help businesses meet these requirements with industry-leading security solutions, providing them with the peace of mind and confidence needed to be successful. RSA in turn wanted to give reps that same level of certainty about their compensation payouts so that they could move from deal to deal without having to worry about the accuracy of those numbers. Ironside’s Sales Performance Management (SPM) team partnered with RSA to help make this a reality.

RSA logo

Industry: Security Technology and Services

Size: >10000 employees

Areas of Engagement: Sales Performance Management

RSA has long been a global leader in the field of security technology/strategy. Founded in 1982, they currently serve over 30,000 customers with their award-winning products. RSA’s goals as an organization are threefold: to help effectively detect, investigate, and respond to advanced attacks; to confirm and manage identities; and to ultimately reduce IP theft, fraud, and cybercrime.

The Challenge

RSA’s comp team had recently graduated from highly manual, Excel-based comp calculations and disbursals to a full-blown incentive compensation management (ICM) system in the form of IBM Cognos ICM. Unfortunately, though, their ICM implementation was failing to meet the needs of both the sales reps and the sales comp team due to the configuration choices a previous consulting partner had made during the initial installation. The reports they were seeing from the system failed to deliver correct payout information, were not user friendly, and were causing sales reps, managers, and comp administrators alike to distrust ICM.

Further compounding these issues was RSA’s intention to make significant compensation plan changes for 2015. What they quickly realized was that they needed to change their entire strategy and system configuration to accommodate their desired modifications. For 2015, they needed to map crediting, quota, a target incentive, rates, and payouts on two different components, but the original ICM design only allowed for one component. Ironside was called in to reconfigure ICM to support the 2015 plan changes while also retaining all past results and adding much-needed user experience upgrades to the comp reports coming from the system to allow quick, actionable insights.

“Our original implementation with our previous partner was a disaster and our sales reps were either overpaid, underpaid, or not paid at all,” says Rob Lynch, Finance Manager at RSA. “The reps were understandably frustrated and blamed the sales comp team and ICM. We parted ways with our previous partner and as soon as we were able to get Ironside involved, things improved dramatically.”

The Journey

To begin realizing the full potential of the ICM implementation RSA had in place, Ironside’s SPM team conducted a thorough review of the system hand in hand with the client’s internal resources.  This was done not only to understand how everything was set up, but also what RSA ideally wanted to achieve and the pain points they currently faced. The result was a clear set of business goals that informed how the Ironside SPM team would approach rebuilding ICM at RSA. Internal leaders like Rob Lynch were a big part of this process.

“RSA’s main priority has always been to pay accurately and on time. However, it’s important that our processes are automated with as little manual intervention as possible. We also want a system that is flexible so when sales management changes the comp plan, ICM can handle whatever changes are needed. Our sales leaders always say that they don’t want the system to drive how we pay people, so it’s critical that ICM is flexible….My goal is to have the rep close a deal and then move on to the next opportunity because he or she knows that our systems are able to pay accurately on that deal. Last, I want to create better reports in ICM so our sales leaders can just push a button and get the information they need to drive decision making.”

– Rob Lynch, Finance Manager, RSA

With the core needs outlined, the Ironside team provided a design plan to RSA’s internal stakeholders outlining the series of activities required to address the organization’s sales comp priorities. The client then approved the plan and Ironside dove into ICM to accomplish the tasks laid out as follows:

  • Removed old components that were not implemented using date effective best practices
  • Designed new compensation workflows that were versatile enough to handle the two components RSA wanted to cover and adapt to future component changes
  • Refreshed sales comp reports to increase trust and utility both on the payee and admin sides
  • Supported the testing and deployment of the reconfigured ICM system through the turn of the year to make sure all elements would work as expected in 2015
  • Continued working with RSA to put further enhancements in place, such as centralized form approvals

The Results

The amount of time spent on the front end of the project gathering information on both the hopes of the people involved with RSA’s ICM system and the disappointments they had faced while trying to improve their comp strategy made a huge impact, both in terms of Ironside’s targeting of areas to fix and RSA’s healing of the gap that had been forming between the sales reps and the comp team. Rob Lynch believes that though this is a bit less tangible, it will make all the difference in the world going forward.

“ started with some small changes, but eventually most of the mistakes made in the initial implementation were fixed and now reps like the system and appreciate what we did with Ironside’s help to make it useful and accurate,” Lynch states. “In a way, Ironside has given the sales comp team back the credibility we lost during that initial go live.”

Beyond renewing the trust between the sales reps and the sales comp team, Ironside and RSA’s efforts have also greatly enhanced the sales comp team’s ability to add value to the organization by removing many of the administrative steps that used to be part of their comp payout process. Lynch sees a major change in terms of how many more items of high importance the team can handle with ICM supporting them:

“Internally, ICM has taken a lot of manual work from the sales comp team. This team used to do everything in Excel and then create manual commission statements for 400+ reps. From the sales rep perspective, we’re able to deliver deal data to the rep quickly. Using ICM, we’re able to constantly monitor rep performance, sales by product family, and identify trends using the data. This past year we were able to deliver a large enhancement to the system that allows the rep to just go into ICM to access and approve their yearly Goal Acknowledgement Form (GAF). In the past, we used a different system that relied on feeds from other systems that routinely failed so reps would wait months if the feed failed.”

– Rob Lynch, Finance Manager, RSA

Finally, thanks to the work Ironside has done and the transparency with which the SPM team has shared their insights, RSA now understands just how much their ICM system is capable of. They now feel empowered to continually generate ideas on how to keep improving their comp strategy and further optimize the tools at their disposal.

“Working with Ironside has allowed me to see what’s possible in ICM,” Lynch asserts. “When we’d bring ideas to our previous partner, we were often told ‘the system doesn’t do that’ so when I’d meet with sales leadership and they’d ask if ICM could do something I’d say no because I didn’t know any better. Working with Ironside has increased my overall knowledge of ICM and now when I’m in similar meetings with sales leadership, I’m able to say that ICM can do whatever you need it to do.”

Conclusion: RSA’s Continued SPM Growth

With a newly optimized ICM system and a new perspective on its capabilities, RSA is moving at full speed toward their sales comp goals. The stability and flexibility of their new configuration combined with being able to draw on Ironside’s expertise has opened up many possibilities to pursue and further options for fine tuning.

“I value that I can come to Ironside with just the framework of an idea of what I’d like to do in ICM and Ironside takes that framework and turns it into an executable plan,” Lynch says. “Ironside has taken our instance of ICM and transformed it into the system we were hoping for when we purchased it.”

Looking into these ideas has continued to deepen the relationship between RSA and Ironside and has changed the way that RSA thinks about some of their own internal processes around ICM. With automated payouts they can rely on now in place, the sales comp team can focus on continuing to build trust with the sales reps.

“Now that we have ICM in a good place, our next priority is to drive rep productivity so we’re looking to change some of our internal processes to not have the rep so involved in ensuring that he or she is paid correctly,” says Lynch.

The Ironside SPM team is excited about continuing to partner with RSA in the future, and are glad that the changes they helped make have had such a positive effect on the client’s sales comp ecosystem. They look forward to building on what’s already been done with the same optimism as RSA’s internal resources.

“When I approached Ironside in late 2014 I said RSA was looking for a partner to help us create a system that was capable of a lot more than how we were currently using it. Ironside comes through for RSA every time. I’ve had the good fortune to work with excellent consultants from Ironside who work tirelessly to get our projects done within tight deadlines.”

– Rob Lynch, Finance Manager, RSA

See how Ironside’s SPM and ICM expertise can benefit your organization by visiting our SPM team page. There you can access loads of great resources, including:

  • Details on SPM and ICM project starting points
  • Cognos ICM video tutorials
  • An overview of the IronDrive solution for ICM reporting
  • Additional case studies and articles showcasing SPM and ICM

You can also reach out to us directly to start an SPM conversation. We’d be happy to help you build trust across your sales organization.