Whether you were a natural whiz in math classes or always struggled to make a passing grade, one thing is certain: your teachers always stressed the need to check your work. And what’s equally as certain is that you knew exactly why, too. When working with numbers, there are a lot of places where things can go horribly wrong for the seemingly smallest of reasons. One misplaced decimal point, one errant digit and the entire solution came crashing down around you. Without checking your work, however, you wouldn’t figure it out until you saw the mark of your teacher’s red pen pointing out your error.
The same is true for compensation management, although on a much larger (and potentially calamitous) scale. Depending on how large or complex your organization is, there are thousands and thousands of places where the same small mistakes can cause weeks of headaches and heartaches. Because if making the mistake wasn’t enough, you (or your compensation team) now have to pore over all of the compensation data to find out where the mistake was made.
And when dealing with lots of different people – managers reporting on their direct hires, different levels and groups within the organization, and so on – the possibility for errors becomes exponentially greater. Automating the entry of your organization’s compensation data into a spreadsheet program can make finding errors even more difficult if you’re not vigilant in seeking out and correcting errors before they cause major problems.
One facet of compensation management solutions that can be helpful is automatic updating. Say for example you have your compensation budget, including merit and bonus pools, readily available on the screen whenever data is being entered or changed. And every time something is entered and changed, those totals update in real time to reflect said changes – allowing you to see if anything looks off at a glance.
Or, say the system is organized in such a way that tracing anomalies back to the errors that caused them is less a feat of being led down the garden path and more about simply retracing your steps and finding what went wrong and where. These are things you could emulate somewhat if you (or someone in your organization) is a whiz in Excel, but let’s face it – you’re already spending enough time as it is with the compensation process, can you spare the amount it would take to create such spreadsheet wizardry? And is it feasible to do so in an organization as large and complex as yours?
A compensation management solution can make finding and fixing errors less troublesome, but the same basic principle your high school math teachers kept trying to drive home applies here. You need to check your work, check your data, before it has the potential to cause problems and before you lose track of where it was things went awry. That is the single best way to avoid having to fix troublesome issues all the time. But still, mistakes can always happen – if your compensation process seems to be more prone to them, it might be time to look for a solution.