With rapidly evolving business environments, it’s important for sales organizations to prioritize agility to mitigate the overall impact of unforeseen and developing market dynamics. Being aware of the relationship between key disruptions and the alignment of corporate business goals will greatly improve an organization's ability to be pro-active versus reactive. For instance, refined strategies, new products, and team growth are impactful components of any successful sales organization that requires careful planning and strategizing coupled with tactical implementation.
In a sales performance management environment, the areas that have the most impact include planning and implementing new incentive plans, aligning and configuring new territories, identifying and qualifying new targets, and introducing new business processes. Sales performance management software (including incentive compensation management, territory management, and quota planning systems) and its applications were created to help sales organizations manage changes and any complications involved. Even when equipped with SPM software, most organizations still struggle with managing these types of changes from inception to final roll-out.
Using incentive compensation management as an example use case, a typical sales compensation plan will follow these steps heading into a new selling year:
- Incentive plan changes or new plans introduced [Requirements]
- Plan changes are implemented in the software [Development]
- Plan changes are verified by business users [Testing]
- Plan changes are migrated and configured in production [Deployment]
From an efficiency and logistical standpoint, there are multiple areas that give rise to potential difficulties. For instance, coordinating allocated time for development and testing by systems owners can create conflicts for field teams; production environments may be affected which can lead to disastrous results. System owners also can’t overwrite the production environment with the new test environment because that will result in possible payouts based on test results. To overcome these change management challenges, sales operations teams must instead look to Application Lifecycle Management.
What is Application Lifecycle Management?
Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is both a set of business processes and a feature of Anaplan that allows sales organizations to efficiently manage the development, testing, deployment, and ongoing maintenance of models. A key strength of ALM is its ability to enable users to introduce changes without disturbing day-to-day business operations, effectively allowing users to test more thoroughly with different scenarios prior to production. ALM achieves this by allowing you to distinguish between structural information and production data in your Anaplan models.
Structural information refers to a model’s configuration settings, non-production lists, module formulas, dashboards layouts, etc. In a sales performance management setting, examples would include incentive plan calculation logic, crediting rules, and quota approval processes.
Production data refers to operational data that changes often and is used to drive decision-making in the model. Examples of production data include sales and other metrics, sales reps metadata, customer accounts, and targets.
One last thing to note about ALM is that the feature is only available to Enterprise customers. If you have any questions about your licensing agreement, be sure to talk to your Anaplan representative so that you are getting the most out of Anaplan.
Types of Models
If you choose to use ALM, there are a few different categories of models to consider using.
Using a quota planning scenario, a typical model scheme may look something like this:
- DEV Model – Used to implement requirements identified for the new quota setting scheme. This model is owned by the Model Builders.
- UAT Model – Used to test the quota setting functionality, quota adjustment process, and quota assignment processes. This model is owned by the testers, normally the Sales Operations team.
- PROD Model – Use as the field-facing model that supports the actual quota setting and approval process using production data and configuration. This model is normally owned by the Sales Operations team.
HOW DOES ALM HELP WITH SALES PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT?
From a competitive business standpoint, Application Lifecycle Management offers Anaplan customers an effective streamlined solution to better manage frequent change demands while also safeguarding against errors. ALM’s ability to easily deploy changes between models creates a unique environment where effective testing can occur and be applied without disrupting production.
During testing, ALM users should also remember that It’s a good practice to deploy changes from your DEV model to your UAT model before deploying to production. This will allow you to test your changes with production-like data before impacting production users.
Here is an example of what a typical deployment path looks like:
With Application Lifecycle Management, sales performance management system owners can confidently adapt to the ever-changing sales organization’s growing needs.
Tips for Successful ALM Usage
- Agree on a naming convention that allows you to easily see the different model types of each model
- Agree on a naming convention for Revision Tags, so that you can clearly see the difference between deployed changes
- Create revision tags whenever the model is stable and tested
- With multiple model builders working on the same model, coordinate deployments to ensure that everyone is ready to deploy their changes