Thursday, September 23, 2010

Compensation in the Membrane

I love compensation. Although I don't think compensation is the only or best way to motivate people, I adore complex, global, multi-faceted compensation programs.

I... just do.

I used to be a software developer for a large, global software vendor. My job was to manage the design and development of the Japanese HR requirements in the global product.

My work involved adding "local" features to the existing global application, which essentially meant slogging through other people's code trying not to break anything with the new stuff.

Did you know that code has personality? For example, French code tends to be brilliant and erratic with cryptic (if any) comments. German code is orderly and concise, with over-capitalized comments that imply the reader is stupid. American code is sometimes brilliant, sometimes sloppy and rarely commented.

It was mostly fun although I sometimes fantasized about blowing up the old code and building something from scratch.

Fast forward, glossing over several jobs, life events, and international moves.

A few years ago I was recruited to design the compensation solution for a new product line at another company. The company was in the process of developing an HRMS solution based on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model.

At first the 'compensation team' was just me and one developer. That seemed small to me after transitioning from a large global team, but on the upside, fewer schedules to coordinate.

We ran around like Benny Hill that first year, only mostly without the slapstick.

I wrote product designs, marketing collateral, white papers and user documentation. I tested each new feature. I trained the sales people and consultants. I presented our product vision to analysts, prospects and customers.

My development partner was just as busy on the technical side, developing the product, testing the limits of new tools that hadn’t even been QA’d yet and working weekends to squeeze in just one more enhancement.

We followed a few simple design principles:

1. Compensation is core, not something you do in a separate system.

2. The solution must be flexible enough to work in any country.

3. Information to make a decision should be available where it's needed.

4. All processes should have a consistent look, feel, set up and behavior.

5. Don't build features no one will use.

One of the great things about SaaS is you can deliver a lot of product in a short amount of time. Our rapid progress helped us attract customers, who shared their passion about compensation and helped us refine our business requirements.

The product grew. The team grew. The company grew.

Today the product is used by more than 100 companies worldwide and growing.

Want to see it? :-)

Click HERE to watch a short product preview.

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