incentive compensation calculation

08 Feb Excel -vs- Incentive Plan Management Software

In recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of companies that offer software solutions which can handle your payroll, incentive plan calculations and reporting. Among them are many web-based solutions as well. These solutions tend to come with dashboards that deliver the results to your employees with frequent updates, or even live data feeds.

If you have simple incentive plans and a large pool of participants, then many of the available options might work great for you, be cost effective, and push your incentive program to the next level. If you have more complicated plans or a small pool of participants, then you may need to do some shopping to find the right fit, take on an in house project, or stick to Excel.

In recent years I have spent uncountable hours administering incentive plans in both Excel, and web-based solutions for numerous clients and incentive plans. Both have their perks and pitfalls, but neither option provides everything. Excel allows a very flexible option that can be adapted to almost any need if the user is talented enough. Whereas the web-based solutions I have encountered offer excellent economies of scale when dealing with a limited number of plans and a large number of participants.

I wish I could say which option is best for every scenario, but sometimes you just won’t know until you’re neck deep. So before you buy, do a detailed cost/benefit analysis of each option, and understand that incentive plan management software won’t fix a broken program (and how much money do you want to spend speeding up the processing of a BAD incentive plan?), but it can take an effective program to the next level.

Excel Software
Benefit - Low Cost - Live data feeds and results
- Flexible - Dashboards engage participants
- Easily Customized - Easy and automated reporting after setup
Limitations - No live data/reporting - High implementation costs and not cost effective for low user volume
- No end-user interface/dashboards - Loss of flexibility
- Reports have to be generated and sent out - Customization is limited and/or costly