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Buyer's Guide

by Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 22, 2017

Every company is different when it comes to compensation management. While budgets are usually based on company earnings, the ratio of employee salaries to overall revenue can vary significantly depending on the industry.

For example, it would make sense for a landscaping company that depends on employee labor to allocate a higher percentage of their revenue to compensation compared to a manufacturing plant that handles the majority of its production through machines.

This is why some businesses struggle to calculate compensation plans that align with business goals and allow them to attract or retain top-notch employees. Luckily, there are a variety of software solutions that can help.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about compensation management solutions. Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Compensation Management Software?
Benefits of Compensation Management Software
Common Functionality of Compensation Management Software
Additional Considerations

What Is Compensation Management Software?

Compensation management software is often sold as a separate module that can be added to a vendor’s talent management suite, along with performance and learning management programs. As the name implies, compensation management solutions allow organizations to conduct a variety of compensation and salary planning activities all in one place.

Common features of compensation management software include:

  • Compensation and salary planning
  • Budgeting and reporting
  • Compliance support
  • Automated incentive program administration
  • Self-service access for all employees

Whether your work for a large company or a small startup, it’s critical to invest in the right platform to balance the business’ compensation structure. Many affordable and efficient options are available to streamline the planning process and automate necessary tasks. This allows HR professionals to make more informed decisions and recommendations.

Benefits of Compensation Management Software

Effectively managing compensation means ensuring that employees are paid the right amount on time, every time. To do so, companies must keep current, accurate and accessible records, which is often a complex task. Some companies may use Excel spreadsheets or email to track compensation history, which can be inefficient as well as insecure. Compensation management software can eliminate recordkeeping problems, and comes with a range of other benefits, such as:

Increased accuracy and efficiency. Instead of spending time tracking and calculating employee compensation in multiple spreadsheets—which often leads to errors—business owners and managers can save time, and plan for pay increases and incentives, by tracking all employee data in one place.

Ready-made worksheets guide managers through the salary planning process, and allow them to enter discretionary rewards when an employee performs well. As a result, employers can reduce the risk of overpayment, manual errors and shadow accounting.

Improved security. By storing all compensation information in one online system, companies reduce the risk of misplacing employee compensation data. And since most systems are password-protected, there is also less of a risk that sensitive information will fall into unauthorized hands.

Increased insight into your budget. In addition to streamlining the initial compensation planning process, most solutions automatically monitor payouts and store the information in the system. This data can then be used by managers and business owners to produce built-in reports, ensuring the company stays within its budget and conforms to federal regulations.

Improved transparency and employee satisfaction. A lack of transparency about the compensation planning process can lead to misunderstandings between management and employees about their pay—which may, in turn, cause diminished employee satisfaction. This may be especially true for organizations with more than one reward type, such as stock rewards, pay-for-performance or commission-based pay.

Because employees and managers can view past payments with this software, there is greater transparency in the compensation process. This can help eliminate confusion about current and past compensation, and allows for clear and open communication about compensation practices.

Higher employee productivity. Studies have shown that employees highly value having their documented performance tied see their base pay, as well as increases or decreases in incentive-based. If your company is having difficulty tying performance goals to rewards, compensation management software can streamline the process and ensure employees are aware of the monetary benefits of a job well done—resulting in a culture of high performance.

Common Functionality of Compensation Management Software

Planning automation Facilitates collaboration so that multiple business leaders can collaborate on compensation plans. For example, users can set compensation adjustment tasks and assign them to colleagues for approval.
Reporting and analytics Generates data-based reports on a variety of values (e.g., cost of living adjustments, performance metrics and promotions) so managers can track and compare these values for the company at large or for individual employees.
Budget control Sends alerts when compensation allocations exceed predetermined budgets.
Compensation assessment Allows managers to view compa-ratios, goals, guidelines and other determining factors so they can best evaluate compensation allocations.
Compensation statements Creates employee benefits statements that include all of a business’ perks and incentives. These may be customized depending on the platform.
Bonus calculations Calculates bonus payouts by factoring in achievement and performance metrics for individuals, departments or the company at large.
Job market pricing Provides roles-based market price data to determine how much employees should be paid as per the going market rate.

Additional Considerations

Some organizations claim a lack of integration with their talent management system prevents them from adopting a compensation management solution. While most compensation management programs are designed to integrate with your current human resources information system (HRIS) and payroll software systems, ask the vendor to ensure that their compensation management module is compatible with your current system.

Another thing your company may want to consider is deployment models. Traditionally, many organizations went with on-premise software, meaning the system is installed on location and maintained by the company. However, there has recently been a move toward hosting software “in the cloud” and paying for it using a subscription model (i.e., Software as a Service). This means the software is located on external servers, and updated automatically by the vendor. Each deployment model has its pros and cons. They also have different upfront and recurring costs, so your final selection should be based on your needs and budget.

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