Mitel drives proactive incentives while reducing administration and time to pay

Published on 04-Apr-2013

"Cognos SPM has enabled a high degree of confidence and trust within our sales organization. Reps know that they are being paid properly, which enables them to focus on selling and making money." - Scott McGillivray, HR Compensation Analyst, Mitel


Telecommunications, Computer Services, Industrial Products

Deployment country:

BA - Business Analytics, Business Integration, Business Performance Transformation, Empowering People, Enabling Business Flexibility, BA - Performance Management


As a global provider of business communications and collaboration software and services, Mitel makes communication simple.

Business need:
Mitel wanted to make administering its sales incentive plan simple too. With many manual compensation processes and a high degree of reliance on IT resources, Mitel was in search of a user-friendly solution that could help administer its compensation plans.

Mitel implemented IBM® Cognos® Sales Performance Management and IBM Cognos Incentive Compensation Management.

By automating with Cognos SPM, Mitel has reduced the number of people calculating commissions from more than 30 for North America to three for all of North and South America. The company has also reduced payment times from more than six weeks to approximately two weeks.

The new fully automated solution reduced Mitel’s dependence on IT resources, eliminated manual processes, and accelerated the company’s commission calculation cycle. It now provides compensation reports in real time.

Case Study

Manual processes resulted in reactive compensation approach

When you ask Scott McGillivray, HR Compensation Analyst at Mitel, about his priority for compensation, he does not hesitate with his answer. He wants Mitel to drive its incentive program so that the company really motivates people, as opposed to just paying them.

The former compensation process was managed in Excel and homegrown databases, with source data coming from diverse systems including Oracle, SAP,, IBM® Lotus® Notes® and other internal databases. Each of the company’s 50 branches calculated numbers, aggregated them together manually within Excel and sent a template back to payroll. Email was the main mechanism for approvals, which was time consuming and challenging to audit.

“We had no standardization or centralization in terms of how payroll received information,” says Jeff Bryan, US Sales Compensation Administrator at Mitel. “We tried to work from the same template, but we often ended up with 50 different interpretations of a business rule. It was almost impossible for us to achieve speed or visibility within our compensation process.”

Because of the complexity, Mitel often settled for static compensation plans. It was laborious and time consuming to set up the spreadsheets, get the data from finance or IT and communicate changes to sales. “Our process, as it was, did not facilitate the speed to market that the technology industry requires. We were working with yearly plans, when we should have had the ability to change them throughout the year as required,” says Scott McGillivray.

Accuracy and timeliness as a foundation for proactive compensation

Scott McGillivray knew that automation was necessary. He wanted Mitel to have the ability to pay people correctly and on time, with a high level of transparency in understanding their payouts. With that foundation in place, Mitel would have the flexibility to develop and implement proactive plans.

The company wanted a robust offering that would support effective compensation management, and facilitate improved analytics and territory management in the future. Mitel decided to implement IBM Cognos Sales Performance Management (SPM).

Mitel needed expert support and collaboration from IBM to help manage the integration of Inter-Tel and Mitel, which was happening in parallel with the Cognos SPM deployment. With Inter-Tel, Mitel added additional direct sales and services components to its channel model in the US, layering the complexity of a retail plan into its existing compensation process. Moving to one fiscal calendar for both companies was a priority.

“We were presented with a lot of unique challenges at the beginning of the project, and the team handled them all exceedingly well,” says Cassie Tucker, IT Project Manager at Mitel. “Beyond the Inter-Tel integration requirements, we had 34 compensation plans in scope initially, and IBM helped us streamline that number.

“By working collaboratively, we gained a greater understanding of our plans and source systems to identify knowledge gaps – what we were paying people, how and why. It gave us a better handle on our outputs and targeting.”

IBM services and support were also a significant advantage after go live. “We had a handful of minor issues that I put through the support portal,” says Jeff Bryan. “I got a quick response and the highest level of expertise to solve the issue every time. It certainly made my life a lot easier in making the Cognos solution a seamless part of our environment and business process.”

Speed and visibility reduce administration and time to pay

By automating with Cognos SPM, Mitel has reduced the number of people calculating commissions from more than 30 for North America to three for all of North and South America. The company has also reduced payment times from more than six weeks to approximately two weeks. There are now only two feeds into payroll, one from the US and one from Canada, and both are accurate and easier to audit.

“We have achieved the level of excellence that we wanted in commission payment,” says McGillivray. “We can dig deep into higher quality data, we can deliver clarity out to sales and we are paying with speed and accuracy. Cognos SPM has enabled a high degree of confidence and trust within our sales organization. Reps know that they are being paid properly, which enables them to focus on selling and making money.”

With phase one (North and South American commission plans) complete, Mitel is now considering its next steps with Cognos SPM. Phase two will focus on commissions within the company’s global operations, while phase three will target performance analytics, territory management and plan modeling. This is the stage that Scott McGillivray is most excited about.

“Having the tools to determine what we are selling, how we are selling it, how we are paying out and the resulting ROI will drive the fast-moving sales force that we need to stay on top of our industry. By creating and modeling plans, senior management can analyze the business from a sales compensation perspective more effectively, enabling us to align plans with corporate objectives and determine global commission investments based on data-driven evidence.

“It will foster a much stronger partnership between the compensation and business organizations.”

About IBM Business Analytics

IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organizations work smarter and outperform their peers. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence, predictive analytics and decision management, performance management, and risk management.

Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualize trends and patterns in areas, such as customer analytics, that can have a profound effect on business performance. They can compare scenarios, anticipate potential threats and opportunities, better plan, budget and forecast resources, balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. By making analytics widely available, organizations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals.

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Cognos Incentive Compensation Management, Cognos Sales Performance Management

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM Corporation, Software Group, Route 100, Somers, NY 10589. Produced in the United States of America. April 2013. IBM, the IBM logo,, Cognos, Lotus and Notes are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation.