Global Biotech Leader Life Technologies Stays Strategic With Incentive Compensation Management from Xactly
Testimonials & Case Studies / Life Technologies
“With Xactly Incent, we’ve been able to transform what was once an administrative job into more of an analytic job, which in turn empowers us think and act much more strategically about sales compensation.”
- Jasmine Zheng, Manager, Americas Sales Compensation, Life Technologies Corporation
About Life Technologies
Life Technologies Corporation is a global biotechnology company with customers in more than 160 countries. The company uses its innovative solutions to solve some of today’s most difficult scientific challenges. The company employs approximately 10,400 people and upholds its ongoing commitment to innovation with more than 4,000 patents and exclusive licenses. Life Technologies had sales of $3.7 billion in 2011.
In fast-paced industries like biotech, it takes work to keep incentive compensation plans in close alignment with shifting market realities and company objectives. Fast-growing Life Technologies takes an aggressive approach to sales compensation, going through a major redesign of compensation plans each year to ensure their effectiveness. But in the past, this wasn’t a simple task. With incentive compensation managed in spreadsheets, the company lacked compensation nimbleness as well as easy access to the data-driven insights that enable truly effective plans.
“Our strategic need for increased compensation agility helped put the conversation about automating compensation on the table. An automated solution is essential to effectively support and help grow our business.”
Benefits at a Glance
- Increased alignment of compensation with business objectives
- Improved sales effectiveness
- Better informed compensation decisions
- Streamlined compensation management
- Easy-to-manage on demand functionality
Life Technologies performed an extensive evaluation of the leading sales compensation management solutions, including Xactly. The company’s goal was not just to automate compensation management, but to also gain maximum flexibility to adapt its incentive compensation to changing business demands. For this reason, Life Technologies selected Xactly Incent as its standard compensation management solution.
“We wanted a SaaS-based technology that represented the future of the sales performance management industry and a technology partner that could run at least as fast as we do,” claims Zheng. “We needed a solution where we could go in on our own and literally change things overnight. Xactly has given us all this and more.”
Life Technologies began rolling out Xactly Incent to its sales teams in 2008, starting in the U.S. and Canada. As of 2012, its Xactly implementation manages incentive compensation for the company across the Americas and China. Other IPAC regions, including Life Technologies’ sales operations in Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore and six other countries, are working towards implementing Xactly to improve consistency across the board. Today, about 800 customer-facing employees worldwide are incented and compensating via Xactly Incent.
Compensation Aligned to Business Objectives
With Xactly Incent, Life Technologies now has the nimbleness it needs to keep incentive compensation aligned with market dynamics and company objectives. Redesigning plans is no longer a laborious chore, where plans had to be reworked from the ground up. Instead, established plans within the system can be easily modified to reflect new realities, strategies and goals.
“One thing that really stands out about Xactly incent is how it enables you take an established plan and leverage its design with just some minor tweaks to support new business directions, including sales team re-orgs and changes to how we approach our customers,” says Zheng. “This has been a huge advantage, both in aligning comp to strategic business objectives and in driving compensation analyst productivity.”
Life Technologies has also become more sophisticated and granular with its compensation. In 2007, the company had nine plan designs and two payout curves. In 2012, there are 16 different payout curves and 57 different plans, all consolidated within Xactly Incent.
“This is a huge leap in terms of complexity of design, and we could not have made it without Xactly,” asserts Zheng. “We pay out almost 100% of the team monthly, and if we were still stuck in spreadsheets we would be overwhelmed by the workload. The jump in plan complexity is driven by business needs, but the ability to handle it is provided by Xactly.”
Increased Sales Effectiveness
Xactly Incent has had a hugely positive effect on Life Technologies' sales effectiveness as well. Sales reps now have real-time visibility into commission plans and attainment. They can drill down to see how they are being compensated on a per-bag basis, and they can see how they can maximize their compensation by selling certain products or products mixes.
“It’s always a best practice to be as transparent with compensation as possible, and the visibility provided by Xactly Incent has a strong motivating effect on our sales reps,” says Zheng. “A lot of the reps monitor their progress very closely. The visibility helps them function more as business managers as opposed to just sellers of product, and it helps them to better understand their performance.”
More Informed Compensation Decisions
Xactly Incent has also driven a sea-change in how Life Technologies makes decisions regarding its incentive compensation spend. Instead of spending hours massaging data in spreadsheets, Zheng and her staff are now able to spend more time on the analytics that can add value to the business. And instead of going after information in an ad hoc manual fashion, Life Technologies has been able to create standard processes and routine reports to help power informed decisions.
“With Xactly Incent, we’ve been able to transform what was once an administrative job into more of an analytic job, which in turn empowers us think and act much more strategically about sales compensation,” explains Zheng. “It’s a priceless improvement to have all our data automatically centralized in one system, where it is not just easy, but also fun, to slice and dice payment and performance information and engage in ‘what-if’ analysis to help optimize our spend. In the past, this was not as easy.”
Streamlining Compensation Management Processes
The automation provided by Xactly Incent has been just as transformative in regards to the day-to-day administrative processes around managing compensation. For example, it provides the necessary tool for Zheng to carve out specific workflow and assign it to analysts based on skill set and experience. Also, in the past, compensation plans were sent out to each rep manually for sign-off. Now, they are sent out online via Xactly Incent for electronic sign-off, with Xactly Incent automatically monitoring approval status and providing a complete audit trail. These streamlined and automated processes have greatly improved the accuracy, efficiency and transparency of compensation at Life Technologies.
Life Technologies is also using Xactly DELTA to identify, reconcile and consolidate variance between multiple revenue uploads, thus supporting automated revenue data processes on the system. For example, each rep is paid on year-to-date performance and every month the data changes. DELTA uploads revenue credit data from Life Technologies’ data warehouse on a monthly basis, automatically compares current month with past months, and puts the discrepancies into the current month with no manual intervention.
“With Xactly Incent and DELTA, data variance becomes transparent within the system and we are freed from one less manual process to focus on higher value tasks,” says Zheng. “We’re also working more effectively with the finance and HR teams. We now have a centralized location of compensation-related data and will be able to provide real time analysis for respective partners to further improve the accuracy on plan effectiveness analysis and accrual estimates.
As Xactly Incent is delivered via the cloud, Life Technologies is gaining the above benefits without investing in on-premise hardware and software, or having to commit time and resources to application management and maintenance.
“Having the technology side sitting with the vendor takes a lot of the pressure off our analysts,” says Zheng. “We don’t have to be super engineers who know configurations and computer coding inside-out to do our jobs really well, which is as it should be. Nor do we have to worry about continuous system updates, as they are taken care of automatically and with no additional investment.”
Life Technologies has been live with Xactly Incent for four years and has recently signed on for another three years. Looking ahead, Zheng and her team intend to continue expanding their use of the Xactly Modeling module to further refine what-if analysis to test the effect plan changes prior to implementing them.
“Xactly has been a terrific long-term partner, validating our decision to go with Xactly Incent many times over,” concludes Zheng. “Through Xactly Incent, we’ve gained the flexibility to change according to different business demands, enhanced the effectiveness of our sales reps, and streamlined our compensation processes – all with one solution. Without Xactly, we would be in a entirely different and much less desirable position than we are today.”