At a time when many companies are still using guesswork and spreadsheets as the basis of territory and sales quota planning and commission calculations, top-performing sales teams use science. With the right modern tools and data-backed methodology, planning doesn’t need to be overly complicated or time-consuming to deliver a powerful incentive for sales reps through clarity and transparency.

When global technology services company Kyndryl Holdings Inc. was spun out of IBM in November 2021, it became the world’s largest provider of IT infrastructure services. The company has over 80,000 employees in 60 countries and 3,500 sales reps. With a focus on continuously improving the vital systems at the heart of the digital economy, Kyndryl works with partners and customers worldwide to co-create solutions to help enterprises reach their peak digital performance.

When Kyndryl spun from IBM, a transition service agreement (TSA) was put in place with a two-year deadline for Kyndryl to complete the disengagement of its IT systems from IBM. One of the challenges Kyndryl faced during the separation was how to transition tools over and apply them in the best way for the new business. This was not an insignificant task given its sales operations extended to more than 60 countries.

Kishore Kancharla, director of Sales and Incentive Systems at Kyndryl, was tasked with working out how best to clone these systems and work on the go-to-market transformation. “When we separated from IBM, we had close to 100 people supporting these mainframe applications, which were very expensive to maintain. As the legacy systems were built for IBM’s operations, there was significant complexity,” he explains. “We wanted to simplify the systems and streamline the processes as well, but it was also very difficult to make changes to support our needs as a new company.”

The nature of sales incentives means there are many dependencies on other core systems. In the planning stages, reliable data is needed to set up territories and quotas and then track sales and calculate commissions, making sure sales reps get paid accurately and on time. The company also had to factor in the transition service agreement exit in terms of sunsetting the legacy applications and moving to stand-alone applications while complying with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).

Empower sales teams with the tools they need to create effective sales experiences

Seeking another way, Kyndryl evaluated several different products against its needs, making the decision to invest in sales performance management solutions in the SAP SuccessFactors portfolio. The portfolio offers integrated solutions for compensation and territory and quota management in the form of SAP SuccessFactors Incentive Management and SAP SuccessFactors Territory and Quota.

But one major challenge stood in its way. The company needed to go-live with the sales performance management solutions before the start of its fiscal year beginning in April 2023. This was well ahead of its TSA deadline in October 2023 and gave the company less than a year.

To make it happen, Kyndryl worked closely with the team from SAP and an SI partner Municons, a company from Munich that specializes in SPM implementations, to implement both solutions. The company also drew on additional support from a systems integrator partner to configure SAP SuccessFactors Incentive Management.

“The team from SAP was a wonderful partner all through the project. In the beginning, I was not 100% confident because of the scale of the task. The idea of replacing the entire legacy solution we inherited seemed daunting, but we had the right people come together with the right skills to make the impossible possible,” Kancharla reflects.

With the successful go-live before the start of its fiscal year, Kyndryl untangled a labyrinth of more than 45 legacy modules supporting sales performance management, now needing just one integrated solution. It moved from 10 different applications to feed sales quota business flows into one. It moved from cluttered and replicated data in multiple places to a streamlined and simplified data landscape, centralizing all sales data in one place. In addition, Kyndryl simplified territory and quota processes, reducing complexity in its business processes by more than 60%. The streamlined business processes also drove savings in operating expenses and mitigated business continuity risks for financially significant applications.

Elsewhere, integrated functionality from DocuSign helped eliminate the need for in-person signatures and the company has simplified support staff roles to clear separation of duties (SoD) conflicts. With the new setup, Kyndryl has minimized the potential for errors and non-compliance while enabling its business teams to develop intricate sales strategies through user-friendly, drag-and-drop interfaces and ready-made templates. And commission details are now accessible through dashboards that are available anytime, anywhere though a mobile app.

At an operational level, the company has reduced the processing time needed to execute the monthly commissions cycle and streamlined integration with its HR system for delivery of pay files. By streamlining year-end close activities, Kyndryl saved weeks of effort from both business and technical teams.

The close relationship with SAP has continued past the initial go-live date. SAP participated in multiple workshops to understand intricacies for some of Kyndryl’s most challenging business processes related to territory and quota and financial planning. A second-year fiscal planning process is already taking advantage of these new offerings, further simplifying and streamlining the company’s complex processes.

Learn more about sales performance management solutions in the SAP SuccessFactors portfolio.

Rahul Iyer is general manager of Sales Performance Management at SAP.

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