What do you like best about the compensation software you use?

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Compensation Management Software Survey with HR.com
Kinixsys and HR.com Survey

Choosing compensation software usually begins with a series of demos.  Yet too often this becomes note taking and months of follow up questions, and possible issues, that will undermine your business use case.  We want to help you prepare for that demo.

It’s not easy to know the right questions to ask, and compensation management software has come a long way since it’s early days more than a decade ago. What’s most important today depends on your company and your compensation plan.

In a recent survey conducted with HR.com (results available here), we included questions that help us understand what those using the software find most important, and most challenging, about compensation software today.


Let’s cover what companies like best about the compensation software they are using, with a few twists:

  • Flexibility – Big Data is influencing, even if it’s not fully understood or adopted by many companies yet. Data needs to flow to different parts of the company, with different views and responsibilities. Being flexible means the software must adapt to the requirements of the plan, but in practice many compensation management software companies are not flexible, and cannot customize – it’s a one size fits all scenario.

There are companies, like Kinixsys, who adapt and customize; being flexible is a key ingredient for compensation software. From all the responses, flexibility comes up again and again as a key “Like Best”.

Key Takeaway: Legacy software that is not updating to the new requirements may hinder your progress. Remember that compensation management software really began in the early part of this century; we’re in the midst of a shift in the way companies manage compensation, which drives customization requests.  What you expect may be a custom solution, so ask first.

  • Integration with market data – more and more salary data is being used to give companies, and employees, a better idea of what appropriate pay should be in the market. Then why do most companies feel they overpay, and many employees feel underpaid, when looking at what should be the same data?

Software that does integrate with market data easily, and accurately, is a big benefit for users.

Key Takeaway: Communication about compensation is becoming more and more important. If you don’t use market data, the employees can by using free services that don’t always give a true picture and will draw their own conclusions. We are all receiving more information than ever before about who gets paid what; it’s important that what shows up to all levels in the company communicates the right message.

That’s often best done in person, and more frequently (performance management and reviews are closely interlinked with the employee’s perception of the value of their compensation)

Key Takeaway:  The never ending rumors of Excel’s death are greatly exaggerated. Excel is more than a software, it’s familiar though not secure habit. It’s also the single word people chose to describe what they like best about compensation management software. Because it’s really a familiar world of Excel, compared to many, many varieties of compensation management software that everyone will need to learn.

Still at a certain point, even small companies will move beyond Excel. Or not. What it clearly shows is what we as an industry think the problem is, Excel, isn’t thought of as a problem by many in the industry. Yet change is inevitable here.

The Most Common, Compensation Software “Like Best”

  • Ease of Use

This is such a frequent, and general, description of what users like best. Software must be easy to use in the context of work, and often in comparison to Excel. Learning curves and frustration can undermine even the best compensation software.

Which is why it’s so important to understand the power of “ease of use”. That means software you can sit down to and learn without reading a book to do it.  Software that the company feels is easy to use; while no one loves a software change, in the end it’s the job of software to make your life easier.

That comes with interface, design, and integration to your business. Support teams who know what they are doing, and project managers who are HR Professionals, and adapt, instead of checklist driven integration with little flexibility.

Key Takeway: What does “ease of use” mean for your company? Ask a few key stakeholders and you’ll see the varying opinions of what’s easy and what’s not.

Beginning with that, you can make a choice by defining what’s best for your company, directly from the people who will use the software.

What we’re hearing are new questions driven partly by updating HR technology driven by Big Data – and the choice of how to adapt –  and partly by companies having to reconsider their old compensation plans in a world where salary data is freely distributed with varying levels of accuracy.

While the times are changing, so are the compensation plans, and the software needed to deliver the results. In the next article, we’re going to explore what companies don’t like about compensation software.

Let us know what you think on Twitter and LinkedIn.