The Road to Creating the PayScale Differentials Engine

At PayScale, customers are the driving force behind many of our innovations. Thinking about how to solve common customer problems inspires us to build valuable products and features. So, we’re excited to announce the release of the PayScale Differentials Engine. This product helps customers determine the cost of labor, and the impact geography and skills have on compensation.

From the starting block to the finish line, here are some highlights of the journey we took in creating the PayScale Differentials Engine. 

Conversations With Customers

Like every good product at PayScale, it all started with a conversation. Customers were describing to us how they were using our products in their own way. They would build their own geographic and skill differentials, and then ask us for tips and tricks on how to make this easier. Essentially, customers wanted to isolate the impact of location or skill on compensation.

At that time, our products were not built to do that, so it was a clumsy experience. However, because of the high value placed on these differentials, our customers were finding creative ways to surface the data. They saw high value in both the geography and skill data PayScale had to offer.

Project Prioritization

We’re always eager to engage in projects that can improve the customer experience. However, like any organization, resources are finite. Thus, it becomes a balancing act, trying to determine which features to build, and in which order. After hearing from multiple customers describing the same experience, we realized how valuable the Differentials Engine would be for customers. 

Prototype Development

At PayScale, we give our software development teams two days to work on fun projects that are outside of the box. Hack Day was a perfect way to build a prototype of this feature. This would give us something compelling to show our internal stakeholders, who would eventually have to sign off on the product. 

It is much easier to understand the vision of a feature when that vision comes to life! Software development teams understand better than anyone how important it is to take skills into account when determining pay. Because this feature was important to them personally, a team of data analysts, designers, and software developers quickly joined the Hack Day team to build the Differentials Engine. In just two days we had a working prototype!

Product Preview

The next step was to see if we were headed in the right direction. We hosted a webinar to teach our customers about the importance of taking both geography and skills into account when determining compensation. During this webinar we showed our customers the prototype of the Differentials Engine. The number of customers who attended this webinar and the level of customer engagement during the webinar confirmed to us the importance of this feature to our customers. This helped build excitement and gather support internally to move this product higher up on the priority list.

Customer Feedback

Once we began to build out a more robust version of this feature, we immediately put it in front of customers. This is an important part of the process when building products and features at PayScale. We want as much customer feedback, as early as possible. For this feature, one of the most impactful pieces of feedback we received was around how to apply the differentials. We initially built the product to allow users to apply geographic and skill differentials to a particular job. However, our customers told us it would be important to apply the differentials to specific employees within a job as well. We heard our customers, and plans are underway to include this expanded functionality in the Differentials Engine!

Industry Leading Innovations

The ability to respond quickly to our customer’s needs has helped PayScale be a leader in the compensation space. Understanding how skills affect compensation is top of mind for compensation professionals. However, few others in the compensation industry have been able to deliver this data. Customer excitement about this feature has been overwhelming. One customer exclaimed that PayScale’s Differentials Engine is the “Tesla” of compensation. It’s just one of the ways we’re delivering valuable, cutting edge features to our customers. We’re happy to provide the precision vehicle, where you can be in the drivers seat on your compensation journey.

Give It A Spin

To learn more about the PayScale Differentials Engine , please visit