Commission Tracking: Time to Ditch the Spreadsheets?

March 2, 2022

Tracking commissions is essential for the insurance FMO/BGA business process. It motivates the agents to be up to date with their enrollments and helps track the company’s book of business. However, getting the data right is critical to successful commission operations.

For health insurance brokerages with simple commission structures, a collection of spreadsheets may deliver precisely what is needed. But, as your brokerage grows and payouts become even slightly more complex spreadsheets quickly spiral out of control. 

Signs that point to the need for upgrading your system are when:
  1. Generating and sending spreadsheets is full-time work
  2. Agents want real-time access to their commissions
  3. Greater visibility of the team's performance is needed
  4. Commission calculations are becoming increasingly hard to manage
  5. Uncertainty around commission payouts and splits

Think you've reached capacity on your spreadsheet system? It might be time for an automated solution. To help you decide, this article examines commission operations and compares a manual spreadsheet system to an automated one through each step of the process. 

Step 1: Organize Commission Operations

Imagine a commission system where your team can work simultaneously on upcoming tasks without using a slew of confusing spreadsheet versions. Imagine a system where the same information is accessible to all stakeholders. For those working with spreadsheets, it's an impossible scenario. 


The disadvantages of spreadsheets become even more apparent when compensation plan changes require updating the system. Depending on the complexity, it can take a big chunk of time out of your day to manually enter new calculations and data every time. That means every new agreement to an agent's commission payout impacts operations. 


The obvious limitation of spreadsheets is the lack of flexibility. Constantly creating workarounds when a process doesn't fit into the system significantly slows down operations.

Spreadsheets are not designed to organize operations or handle workflows. They can't store files, manage tasks, or record team collaboration. The numbers, text, date, and times found in spreadsheets are not enough information on their own to be effective. 

For a system to be efficient, information and schedules must be available in real-time to the entire team involved, including remote agents.

Switching to an automatic system with online access will pull together all your information with all your processes. And the availability of verified data will connect your team members while streamlining operations. 

Step 2: Track Agent Enrollments

With spreadsheets, managers have no good way to evaluate how their team is doing. You can generate more consolidated spreadsheets, but that just makes more work for you. And each time an agent's commissions are adjusted, you must re-create, re-share, and store more spreadsheets. 

Moreover, manually creating spreadsheets is not something you or your team want to do regularly. But, your agents aren't slowing down. They're submitting new enrollments every day and they'll want to keep track. That means more spreadsheet updates. 

However, with an automated commission solution you can:


Here is an example of an agent dashboard within's latest commission tracking software, Trusty Back Office Pro. 


Step 3: Calculate Updates to Payout Structures

Because spreadsheets rely on human input, errors like simple typos, faults in reasoning, or leaving something out entirely are all possible. And retracing those issues often turns out to be nearly impossible and erodes trust.

Additionally, connecting spreadsheets to live data is difficult, so the information is never completely up-to-date. 

To calculate commissions takes understanding and being able to apply that data and internal business logic. An automated system uses a rules engine that can build logic within each formula. It's a digital tool that can leverage external data, perform limitless calculations and reuse relevant logic

It's a technology that allows an agency to introduce new commission plans quickly. It also minimizes time for payment processing, error checking, and data updates.

Step 4: Generate and Distribute Payouts

A manual commission spreadsheet process often starts with a master spreadsheet with all the formulas and lookup tables. From that master, at every payout period for each agent you must:

  1. Copy the sales records to the master spreadsheet
  2. Run calculations and generate commission totals
  3. Create private copies for each agent
  4. Remove any confidential information from their copy
  5. Share/email each spreadsheet to agent, manager, etc. 
  6. Archive spreadsheets

At this point, the agents haven't even been paid. It becomes even more tedious because spreadsheets can't be generated in bulk so you’ll have to repeat that process for every agent. 

There is an initial setup with an automated system where producer and carrier lists are created and sales compensation rules are applied. After that, for each pay period (or more often), you:

  1. Import enrollments
  2. Run commission statements
  3. Bulk process payments
  4. Watch sales dashboard in real-time

Now, agents are paid, data can be traced and managers see overall results instantly.

Step 5: Create Accurate, Transparent Reporting

It's critical to gauge your business success by tracking an agents’ enrollments and the policies that are selling. Generating comprehensive reports means you can see the overall performance of each agent as well as the entire business.

Spreadsheets can only take the static information available at the time, making meaningful reporting more challenging. 

An automated system uses real-time data and generates instant reporting results. With it, you can:


Producing real-time reports helps remove bottlenecks and enhances your agents' productivity. 

Step 6: Navigate Changes, Updates, and Growth

When you need to thrive in a fast-moving industry like insurance, spreadsheets can't keep up. 

Every time an adjustment is needed, you must re-generate new spreadsheets and share them again. If sales data is incorrect or missing, you must start all over. And if the adjustment requires updating formulas, documenting the changes is challenging and cumbersome. It's too easy to lose track of the original business logic. 

On the other hand, commission software can provide flexibility if you want to include multiple sales compensation plans. It’s a system that by design navigates the complexities of managing different and complex payout structures.

Even though it is often the traditional way of doing things, spreadsheets can't provide the level of accuracy, efficiency, or visibility into data that companies need to grow. Automation offers benefits that impact not only your sales compensation management but your entire back-office administration.


Is there a good time for spreadsheets? 

Spreadsheets are helpful for basic workflow processes. In the early stages of your business, it may make sense. 

However, as agents are added and commission plans become more sophisticated, an upgrade becomes essential. Moving to an automated system streamlines processes, quickly updates data, generates accurate reports, and, more importantly, keeps your team in the loop.

With a system like Trusty Back Office Pro, you’ll have automation that does the heavy lifting for you. A user-friendly interface and secure, cloud-based access, means you and your team will have the information necessary to know what levers to pull to accelerate sales and grow business. 

To learn more about how you can make your commission operations better with automation, check out our guide on building trust through technology. Contact us today to see all the features firsthand with a no-obligation demonstration. 

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