Understanding “Interpolate” and “Step” business goals calculations in Variable Pay


When adding Business Goals to the configuration of a Variable Pay template we can choose between 3 different type of Metrics for each goal :

  • Direct
  • Interpolate
  • Step


As much as Direct type is easy to understand as it is a straight achievement percentage (that Comp Administrators usually get from Finance each year before the Variable Pay cycle), the mathematics behind the value for standard field “Incentive Payout %” on the worksheet when Interpolate and Step metrics are used can be complicated to understand for both Implementation Consultants and for Customers.

Interpolate Business Goals

Interpolate metric is probably the most mysterious one since nothing in SuccessFactors highlights the mathematical formula leading to the value we see in Incentive Payout % when we open the worksheet.

Let’s take an example below.

In the Variable Pay worksheet below the payout for EBITDA business goal for Lucy Geall’s 2nd assignment of the fiscal year is 75.16%.

However, nothing on screen allows us to recapture where that 75.16% comes from. If we divide the Actual Results by the Target Performance we get 65.74% and not 75.16%.

To understand that 75.16% we first need to navigate to the Business Goal section of our Variable Pay template and find the 3 or 5 metric payout points for this particular Business Goal.

Then we can use one of the many websites about interpolate formulas in mathematics such as this one in my case :

Step Business Goals

Step metric is a little bit more straightforward. To return a value in “Incentive Payout %” (see screenshot below) the system always takes the floor between the two points of the metric between which X (in our case the column “Actual Results” below) lies.

Let’s take a look at it from the Business Goal design screen :


For both Interpolate and Step metrics, an unlimited number of points can be added to a configuration by setting “Enable Flexible Payout Curve” in Plan Setup > Settings and following instructions and sample upload file in the help text.

More information about Flexible Payout Curves can be found here : https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/2717016

All the best,