Managing a sales department can be a lot of work, with myriad issues – ranging from compensation planning to training – demanding attention on a daily basis. Fortunately, technology has evolved to the point that companies making use of incentive compensation management software have reaped big rewards.

For Ariba, a business commerce software and network providers based in Sunnyvale, California, ensuring salespeople receive commissions was a major headache for sales managers. This led Karina Day, director of global compensation at Ariba, to turn to incentive compensation management software as a solution to this problem.

Ariba integrated Xactly Incent, a software as a service (SaaS) application, to help track and process bonuses and other types of compensation in 19 currencies for upward of 850 global employees.

The benefits were evident almost immediately. For example, prior to integration, Ariba's sales team waited between two and three weeks after the month's close for data on closed deals to be visible. Now, it takes between five and 10 days of when the deal is signed for this information to become available, Tech Target reports. Additionally, approximately 90 percent of new sales incentive plans are integrated within the first week of being distributed by managers.

ICM gains more steam

Ariba is only one of many companies integrating incentive compensation management software. A number of analysts have noted that these solutions are growing more popular, particularly among large companies with hundreds or even thousands of people on their sales teams.

"The real driver, I think, is the size of the company," Denis Pombriant, a customer relationship management (CRM) analyst and managing principal of Beagle Research, told Tech Target. "As the company grows bigger and you have more salespeople, you inevitably introduce more complexity. You have more products, and you have more people getting a piece of the deal."

Additionally, incentive compensation management solutions serve as a way to bolster efficiency within a company. The software expedites several processes and automates others, giving chief financial officers and other individuals managing sales more time to accomplish other mission-critical tasks.