Customer Success Story: Ariba streamlines sales compensation management with Xactly
Testimonials & Case Studies / Ariba
"Xactly Incent has been a great move for us. Implementation went quickly, we've had no notable issues, and the system is being enthusiastically embraced by all constituencies from sales to finance to management. The new visibility and efficiencies enabled by Xactly are helping us to be even more agile as a business."
Ariba, Inc. is the world's leading provider of collaborative business commerce solutions. Using the Ariba Commerce Cloud, businesses of all sizes can buy, sell and manage cash more efficiently and effectively. Over 700,000 companies around the globe use the Ariba Commerce Cloud to simplify inter-enterprise commerce and enhance results.
Ariba knows all about innovation. The company pioneered B2B commerce on the Web, and more recently, helped drive the move to Cloud-based solutions. Ariba has also innovated internally, moving its sales compensation management process off of spreadsheets and onto a home-grown automated system as early as 2004. The problem was, by 2009, that system was running out of gas.
“In 2004, we hired a person to build and maintain a home-grown SQL database system to manage compensation,” explains Karina Day, senior manager, global compensation, Ariba. “But by the time we were approaching 500 payees, and juggling several dozen different compensation plans, the system’s shortcomings in terms of insufficient automation, visibility and reporting were glaringly apparent.”
An underlying problem with the legacy system was that it was not an on-demand solution, and Ariba was committed to moving as much of its corporate information infrastructure as possible to Cloud-based solutions. The legacy system took internal resources to maintain and upgrade, the company still had to manually send out monthly Excel-based commission statements to hundreds of sales and customer service payees, and the finance group still had to laboriously piece together data for accruals, expense forecasting, and so on because the system did not provide comprehensive reporting.
Ariba was determined to have a robust Cloud-based compensation management solution in place for fiscal 2011, which started on October 1, 2010. After studying the competitive field, the company implemented the Xactly Incent on-demand compensation management solution, in conjunction with the Xactly Analytics module and Xactly Delta (Data Management Services).
“Xactly stood out as the leader in on-demand compensation management, having built Xactly Incent from the ground up for on-demand deployment and end-to-end compensation management,” says Day. “As we evaluated Xactly Incent, we found it had all the functionality we were then lacking around reporting and analytics, automation, and management and sales rep visibility.”
Ariba commenced its Xactly implementation in July 2010 and went live with its fiscal 2011 compensation plans, managed entirely within Xactly Incent a few months later.
Today, Ariba uses Xactly Incent to efficiently manage more than 60 different compensation plans across 567 sales and services employees, being paid in 20 currencies. Xactly Delta is used to move data from multiple enterprise information sources into Xactly Incent, which leverages the consolidated data to accurately determine commissions.
Xactly Analytics, meanwhile, is being used for custom reporting and analytic drill-downs based on the consolidated data residing within Xactly Incent. For example, Ariba’s finance staff is now able to easily create detailed reports on expenses using custom data by customer, contract and sales representative. Previously, staffers struggled for days or even weeks to manually pull together all the pieces necessary for this type of analysis and reporting. Now it is accomplished automatically and comprehensively in a fraction of the time.
“We’ve realized a lot of benefits very quickly with Xactly Incent, and now that people are thoroughly comfortable with it, we are moving to make use of some of its more advanced features, such as real-time visibility into sales performance and commissions,” says Day. “Sales reps, sales management and finance are all enthusiastic about the new system and the way it saves precious sales and administrative time and effort.”
Xactly helps Ariba get better business results.
Improved Field Visibility
With Ariba’s previous system, Ariba sales and services reps were emailed their monthly commissions statements in a “static” Excel spreadsheet. Now they are able to view that information within Xactly Incent, with the ability to drill into the data, compare their commission by month, view compensation across products, etc. “Xactly Incent has enabled us to give our end users in the field self-help access to their compensation data,” explains Day. “We are currently providing monthly e-statements, but intend to provide real-time visibility via Xactly dashboards in the near future, so reps can get to this information at any time by themselves.”
Increased Management Insight
Xactly Incent’s self-help paradigm extends to management as well. Instead of waiting days or weeks for reports, sales managers are now able to log into Xactly Incent and get reports themselves without depending on IT or finance. “Our management team is very pleased about being able to log in and see their peoples’ attainments without having to first go through the compensation administrators,” claims Day. “With this more timely and complete visibility comes faster and better business decisions.”
Faster Financial Reporting
Xactly Incent has streamlined financial reporting at Ariba around sales operations. The same data that is pulled into Xactly to enable accurate commission determinations is used to power timely analytics and reporting. Standard reports are run automatically on current data, and custom reports can be quickly and easily defined. “The data goes in quickly and analytic reports calculate faster with us putting in far less effort than in the past,” says Day. “Overall, we’re receiving much better intelligence than our previous system could provide.”
Faster Plan Approvals
In the past, it would take up to nine weeks for Ariba to get every payee’s new compensation plan approved and signed. Now, with plans distributed to each payee and viewable via Xactly Incent, 60 percent of plans are electronically signed off on within a week. “Xactly Incent has phenomenally improved our plan sign-off process,” claims Day. “We used to use email to get the plans out for approval, and then had to chase everyone down to get sign off. Xactly Incent automates the process to the point where if the plan isn’t electronically signed off on, it simply doesn’t kick in. Plus we have a full electronic audit trail. This has been a huge win for us.”
Ariba is also experiencing closer finance-sales collaboration, with less shadow-accounting by its reps and far fewer time-consuming disputes around compensation matters. “We’re seeing fewer questions from the field regarding commissions because reps can now drill down into their statements and see for themselves how their commissions have been determined,” says Day. “This is another big win because it saves administrative time and, most important, enables reps to stay focused on selling to and serving our customers.”
With Xactly Incent, Ariba now has a 100 percent Cloud solution for sales compensation management, consistent with the company’s strategy for leveraging Cloud deployments wherever feasible. “Xactly fits in perfectly with our IT strategy and infrastructure, integrating seamlessly with existing applications whether they are on-premise or in the Cloud,” says Day. “Like Xactly, Ariba is a Cloud company and we successfully practice what we preach.”
Day concludes, “Xactly Incent has been a great move for us. Implementation went quickly, we’ve had no notable issues, and the system is being enthusiastically embraced by all constituencies from sales to finance to management. The new visibility and efficiencies enabled by Xactly are helping us to be even more agile as a business.”