I was able to take a look at Compel, the CODiE award-winning Rich Internet Application built by the team at Centive which takes advantage of the web and puts information at the fingertips of the people who need it most - the ideal RIA. Compel is a sales compensation management tool built in Flex 1.5. It was described to me as a tool for mid-sized companies who are looking for an on-demand solution to their sales compensation management woes. Essentially, it's for all the companies out there that are still calculating sales commissions with Excel. When a company signs up for the Compel service, they are given access to the application online.
There are three types of users in the system, each with their own dashboard– sales representatives, sales managers and executives, and compensation administrators. What's great about Compel, and why it has been successful so far, is that it provides a level of transparency that most small and mid-sized companies don't have. A salesperson can log into their dashboard and see exactly where they stand this period, this quarter or this year. They can see commissions earned to date, attainment against quota targets, even ranking against peers. And, the dashboards are interactive; reps can drill down to transaction-level detail to see exactly how their commissions were calculated. If reps perceive a problem or have a question, they can send messages to their manager or the comp administrator and track progress as the issue is resolved.
The sales managers and senior executives have access to an executive dashboard. Security controls what they can see; for example a regional VP of sales would only be able to see information about his or her subordinates. This dashboard provides real time information to help managers see how their team is doing, who is hitting quota and who is lagging, and which products are selling best in each territory. Managers can also drill down into results for individual sales people and then compare them to the rest of the team. Managers get graphical analytics too, for example they can see how their team’s results compare to various modeled scenarios. Centive calls this strategic sales compensation management – giving managers information in time to make a difference.
The most robust part of the application is in the administrators section. It is here that a company can set up the compensation plans, organizational structures, quotas, territories, overrides, draws and bonuses. Compel gives them full control to model and manage the entire sales compensation structure. This is also where Compel really shines as a rich internet application. Complex compensation plans with sophisticated plan logic are easy to build; Compel abstracts all the code behind an easy to use, accordion structured plan builder. The application is powerful enough to allow you to set up multiple models and apply those models to different teams in no time.
Compel is perfect as an on-demand RIA because the sales team can quickly and easily check their status from anywhere in the world. It has a robust, easy-to-use interface that makes working in the application painless. While it isn't a solution for big companies who have thousands of sales reps and millions of transactions, it is ideal for small and mid-sized companies. When I asked about concerns with storing financial data, the Centive team said that they did a couple of things. One, they provide for data export on demand, so companies always have access to their own data. Also, while the code base is multi-tenant, Centive creates a separate database instance for each customer so that no data is intermingled with data from other companies. Finally, using the Flash Platform opens up the possibility of creating a mobile version of the application down the road. Sales teams could access the solution from any mobile device.
Centive recently announced that Compel will work with Salesforce.com through the AppExchange so that people who already use Salesforce.com can quickly and easily integrate Compel. The benefit here is that sales reps can log into their dashboard and not only see their actual earnings, but also their potential earnings based on select deals in their pipeline. That’s how you motivate sales people! Show them what they are earning, what they could earn, and give them visibility into how their pay is calculated. In fact, the companies that use Compel have found that the turnover rate for their sales force is much lower because reps finally trust that they are being accurately paid. Compel is an excellent example of how Rich Internet Applications can piggy-back on traditional web apps and greatly enhance their functionality.