Many of the software companies in the enterprise incentive management (EIM) / sales performance management (SPM) space have several major releases of their flagship software behind them and their support for older versions may be waning. The latest version of your EIM software is offering tempting new features. Additionally, your organization may be retiring versions of supplementary software like database, ETL, and reporting tools required by the current version of your EIM software. Whatever the reason, if you’ve been running your EIM system for over 2 years, you are probably planning for an upgrade.

Questions that you may be asking: Should we stay with the same vendor? Will we stick with an on-premise solution or move to a hosted or SaaS arrangement? What is our budget and timeline? Depending on where you are in the process, another very important question may drive the answers to these and/or cause you to affirm answers you already have. Functionally, will you be 1) porting the system or 2) reengineering your current solution? A port generally refers to redeploying current system functionality on the new version or platform. A re-engineer includes significant functional modifications to the current system. As with many two-option scenarios, a hybrid approach is a viable third option. For example, you may which to preserve one comp plan via a port and reengineer the others.

Some possible considerations when determining your best approach, port, re-engineer, or a hybrid of the two:


A port upgrade solution will typically be the least expensive option; costs will increase as the solution involves more re-engineering. Budget for requirements gathering and analysis stages will be minimized in ports because the functionality of the existing system can serve as the requirements for the upgraded system. The testing phase for ports is also likely to be much less expensive because expected results are easy to determine and parallel tests are conductible.


Much like budget, ports offer advantages over re-engineering towards a goal of minimizing time to go-live.

Vendor Change

If you are opting to change vendors, you may not realize the degree of cost and time savings associated with the port option due to fundamental differences in vendor product function. Careful consideration is required when planning a software vendor change coupled with a port strategy due to budget and timeline drivers.

Compensation Plan Satisfaction

Are your compensation plans driving proper sales organization behavior or are they tailored to (limitations of) the existing system? Is the sales organization accepting of the function of the existing compensation plans? If no is the answer to either of these questions, than a greater degree of reengineering is probably in order. On the other hand, if functionally the plans are performing and accepted, a port may offer minimal disruption to the sales organization.

There are likely other important factors specific to your organization that will drive to your best upgrade approach, port or re-engineer. A weighted matrix with scores for each driver similar to those often employed for vendor product selections can be a very useful tool to guide you to the correct course. Once this approach is identified and properly communicated to the implementation team, your chances for realizing upgrade success increase dramatically.

-Michael Stus