Four Tips for Moving to an Automated MDF System

Craig DeWolf



Hi, I'm Craig DeWolf, Vice President of Marketing Enablement for Perks Worldwide. 

There comes a point in time when vendors who are starting out managing MDF programs need to move from an in-house system to a system that will help them manage the program overall that specializes in MDF program management. Now, this comes about usually because there are part-time program administrators within a vendor or a supplier who is managing MDF programs and suddenly either the burden becomes pretty excessive on their time, turnaround time slows down, or pulling the reports needed from all of the manual forms of administration and spreadsheets that have been going back and forth gets a bit cumbersome.

There is a time when growing vendors have to move from an in-house MDF system to an outsource service, which can either be the MDF platform in specific or a full managed service that brings the platform, brings the auditing and claim compliance capabilities as well as the payment processes all at once. All three or any two of those three are available through Perks WW, and what you will find when you make that leap are a few benefits and some considerations.

One is efficiency overall. You will find that you will benefit right away from faster turnaround times and having all of the information centralized in one location. Having all of the business processes and approval processes preconfigured within a solution to help address that and to move everything through the system promptly as well as having all of the data standardized in one place so you can quickly pull reports. So, that is one of the key benefits you're going to have when you move to a specialized MDF management system.

What you have to do to help select your vendor and your partner in terms of considerations to do that is what we're going to cover next. However, do note that on our website we do have an market development funds platform RFP template available to you as a starting point so you can help use it as a basis for vendor selection based on what your needs are.

In any case, start out with your requirements. In many cases when we start talking with clients, they don't have a very good idea of what their requirements are, which is not necessarily a bad thing, however, typically we find out later on that there are specific requirements that should have been met. The best place to begin is by starting with your understanding of what the requirements are. This is having a clean set of guidelines, which is basically the rules of the road for your program, a document that you would hand out to your field stakeholders and channel partners alike that explains who is eligible for MDF, what kinds of activities that they can fund through MDF types of programs, and how it gets funded and the processes around that. So, that would be all documented within your guidelines, and we can provide examples to you. 

But in addition to your guidelines having an understanding of, for instance, the geographies you want to support, the business processes related to your programs, and by that I primarily mean the approval processes and steps involved, how your partners earn money or earn the money or funds in order to apply them to MDF, and finally what are the payment requirements associated with them.

The next is best practice guidance. Not all MDF programs are the same. In prior lives, I have managed them for companies as well as sold them for other providers, and in fact, I don't know that I have seen any two MDF programs alike. I think most vendors who believe that their MDF program is like everybody else's would certainly benefit from best practice guidance, so I would say that anybody you pick should be able to offer those programs based on your advice, based on your go-to-market needs, and that should be one of the criteria that you look at.

Next would be regulatory considerations. MDF programs are subject to a variety of regulatory considerations from the FTC in terms of pricing practices, in terms of accounting practices, and from global business regulations around anti-bribery and anti-corruption. As anybody with an MDF program grows, these regulatory considerations become more and more important, and therefore your system that you choose should be able to help you conform to the regulations and provide you with advice as to how your program can best conform to those regulations. 

Thank you.

About the Author

Craig DeWolf

Craig DeWolf, Perks WW VP, Marketing Enablement, has over 30 years of channel program and trade marketing experience spanning a variety of industries and distribution models including technology and consumer product companies. As Vice President, Marketing Enablement he provides a unique multi-industry perspective gleaned from a background working across agency, supplier, and vendor/manufacturer roles. Craig has engaged with key business partners and worked with a variety of clients on both channel and trade strategies and programs, including: AT&T, Apple, Avaya, Bridgestone Goodrich, Canon USA, Hewlett-Packard, Kraft, Oracle, Panasonic, Timex and Xerox. Immediately before joining Perks Worldwide, Craig held senior roles at Hawk Incentives, Hawkeye Channel, and CCI—a work history that shows his deep understanding of the channel space.

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