Repair or replace: It’s a familiar dilemma for everyone from car owners to global corporations. A multinational pharmaceutical company had to make that choice when it outgrew the internally developed software that it used to support sales operations. It had to decide whether to redesign and upgrade a custom system that was growing increasingly challenging to support, or to attempt to replace it with an off-the-shelf solution.

The challenge

Because of market pressures and increased globalization, many pharmaceutical companies have been working to centralize their sales operations, which can pose a significant technology challenge. The software available to enable this often isn’t flexible or feature-rich enough to get the job done. And building a solution in-house can strain the bandwidth and capabilities of both IT and sales operations teams.


As this company’s U.S. pharmaceuticals division looked at ways to streamline and centralize its processes, it realized that its home-grown software application was beginning to show its age. While building a new custom solution has its advantages, the ongoing support needed to maintain such an application was a challenge for IT. Leaving its in-house approach behind meant forgoing custom applications.


“We needed to enhance our capabilities,” the company’s deputy director of sales incentive strategy says. “We had relied on our internally developed system and Excel.” But now the company needed more functionality (including analysis and compensation plan design) and better reporting. They also needed to manage roster and alignment changes on a day-to-day basis.


The company needed an off-the-shelf solution—but one that was feature-rich and flexible enough to meet their complex needs and keep pace with their growth and evolution.

“Expectations were definitely met. Javelin delivered on quality, timelines and flexibility while simultaneously running and modeling our IC plans.”

Deputy director of sales incentive strategy

The solution

The company decided that ZS’s JAVELIN® software was the only solution on the market that could handle such complexity with the flexibility that it required. Together, the company and ZS redesigned and streamlined commercial operations with Javelin at the center, which proved so effective that the company expanded it to three additional divisions. ZS was able to manage the expansion within one year. The solution comprises:

  • Coordinate the entire incentive process, from defining incentive programs to ensuring that payouts are correct and on time—integrated with a fully automated roster management solution.
  • Develop and compare sales compensation scenarios, and help the company arrive at the most fair and motivating sales goals.
  • Automate the MBO (manage by objectives) process across all levels of sales.
  • Fexibly create and coordinate frequent territory alignments with input from the field, and consolidate six alignment sources into one system of record for alignments. Because this tool is tightly integrated with Javelin Incentive Manager, the company’s sales alignment and compensation data stay in synch.
  • Centralize and automate report distribution, deliver mobile scorecards, and offer an interface between the field and headquarters that ties all of these solutions together into a one-stop shop.

The impact

After working with ZS, the company has:

  • Replaced a custom-built, inflexible system with an off-the-shelf, transparent, flexible and scalable solution that the sales operations group can run without relying on a team of programmers.
  • Improved the quality and timeliness of sales compensation by consolidating and streamlining operations and alignments for multiple business units—each with highly distinct and complex needs.
  • Improved territory alignment accuracy with a single source of truth for all alignment data.
  • Enabled better headquarters and field reporting, and introduced valuable mobile scorecards to the field.
  • Introduced a new, impactful capability: comparing quotas to arrive at optimal goal setting.
  • Transitioned to a future-proof platform that continues to evolve with the industry and can keep growing along with the company.

“Leadership’s expectations were definitely met,” the deputy director says. “JAVELIN delivered on quality, timelines and flexibility while simultaneously running and modeling our IC plans. The feedback from the field has been positive, too.”