S&OP Mission Critical: Getting Top Management on Board

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1 S&OP Mission Critical: Getting Top Management on Board by Tom Wallace & Bob Stahl Copyright 2006 T. F. Wallace & Co. _

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Overview 3 Success with Executive S&OP 4 The Critical Role of Leadership 4 How Well Is It Working? 5 Executive Visibility 6 Re-thinking Your Existing Tools 7 Core Principles Revisited 8 About the Authors 9 Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 2

3 EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW Executive S&OP the top management component of Sales & Operations Planning is delivering great benefits to companies using it well. Experience has shown that the most important element of successful Executive S&OP is executive buy-in, support, leadership, and hands-on participation. Most companies are not getting those benefits. A recent survey showed that a high percentage of users are not satisfied with how well Executive S&OP is working. Almost all of this can be traced back to lack of executive support and participation. Many companies have attempted to implement executive S&OP with only limited success. Some of them feel somewhat trapped: they feel they can t get approval to go back and start over, and they don t know how to move beyond where they presently are: a dysfunctional S&OP process. There is now a way forward: an approach known as Executive Visibility. This can jumpstart a failing or failed S&OP process and enable it to move to a high level of effectiveness. The keys to Executive Visibility lie in: 1. using the right metrics, 2. presenting them in ways that highlight gaps in planning and their financial impact, 3. enabling executive decision-making, and 4. getting executive support to take S&OP to the next level. New software tools can be helpful both in the executive visibility process and later, as full Executive S&OP becomes a reality. But their implementation must not violate the core principle of low cost, low risk, and positive results within 90 days. Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 3

4 SUCCESS WITH EXECUTIVE S&OP Sales & Operations Planning is great stuff, right? S&OP, particularly its executive component, has an extremely strong track record to date; it s been successful in helping executives and managers run their companies far more effectively: customer service up, productivity up, inventories down, new products introductions more rapid, and better financial performance, among others. Executive S&OP is the keystone of all of Sales & Operations Planning, enabling the other S&OP processes Demand Planning, Supply Planning, Master Scheduling and others to work well. Companies doing a first-rate job with Executive S&OP report very high benefits from its use. Most companies successful with Executive S&OP have implemented it with the following core principles firmly in mind: Hold the High Ground. Have the president and his or her staff solidly on board. Think Big, Start Small. Follow a low risk approach, both in dollars and time required. Deliver Rapid Value. Visible progress and demonstrated results must be forthcoming within 90 days or less of getting started and every 90 days or less thereafter. Incorporate Best Practices. Constantly drive towards full Executive S&OP. What follows will reflect these principles. THE CRITICAL ROLE OF LEADERSHIP The bad news is that S&OP s benefits are being received by only a minority of companies. Many companies have tried to implement Executive S&OP, but have been only partially successful, or not at all. Why is that? Well, let s answer that question with another one: what s the most important element of successful Executive S&OP? Answer: Executive buy-in, support, leadership, and hands-on participation. And another question: what s usually the toughest thing to acquire for an Executive S&OP implementation? Answer: Executive buy-in, support, leadership and hands-on participation. Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 4

5 However, a recent survey 1 showed that a high percentage of users are not satisfied with how well Executive S&OP is working. Major problems cited include difficulties in executive reporting, lack of participation from Sales and Marketing, little or no tie in to the financial plan, and problems in accessing the data. These are serious shortcomings, but they all have one thing in common: Fixing them is far easier if the president (CEO, COO, general manager) is actively engaged in the Executive S&OP process. When he or she says, We are definitely going to make this work. Failure is not an option, things start to happen; reluctant people get on board and momentum begins to build. A principle of warfare states: Hold the high ground. In implementing Executive S&OP, the high ground is the president s office. Once that person is providing the necessary leadership, rapid progress can be made and will almost always result in a successful implementation. HOW WELL IS IT WORKING? Relative to Sales &Operations Planning, companies can be put in one of three categories: Type 1: S&OP has been implemented and is working very well. Type 2: S&OP has been implemented and is not working well. Type 3: S&OP has not yet been implemented (or is being implemented now). Key finding: a majority of the companies surveyed were in the Type 2 category: they have S&OP operating but not well; they are not satisfied with how it s performing. Type 1 companies have no major problems. For Type 3 companies, the best way to bring the president and staff up to speed is via an Executive Briefing. This is an informational business meeting, facilitated by a sure-footed individual with Executive S&OP expertise. This can be someone from within the company perhaps from a sister division who has successful Executive S&OP experience, or it could be an outsider with a strong track record of successful implementations. The goal of Executive Briefing is to obtain executive commitment to proceed with the S&OP initiative. Type 2 companies S&OP is underperforming are the focus of this paper. A Type 2 company often looks like this: 1 Improving Sales and Operations Planning Research Findings from Companies Seeking to Improve S&OP, April 2006, Interlace Systems, www. interlacesystems.com Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 5

6 Top Management approved the S&OP implementation. Top Management was briefed on S&OP but never really got on board. Attendance at the Executive meetings is poor and hence the meetings are unproductive. Decisions are not made or, if made, are not supported. Or, the meetings have been discontinued. The result: a failed implementation. So what s a Type 2 company to do? Broadly, it has three choices, one being that it can do nothing. This means that an important tool Executive S&OP will not be used and thus its competitive and financial benefits will not be gained. Second, the company could start over with S&OP: do a briefing or other kind of information session for the Top Management team. The problem is that they probably won t agree because it s already been done. Their feeling: Been there; done that. The third option is to find another way forward, a way to engage the executive team. Here it is. EXECUTIVE VISIBILITY We call this new way forward Executive Visibility. Its mission is to get Top Management s attention, capture their interest, and create enthusiasm within their ranks for the Executive S&OP process. Here are the steps: 1. Get a champion. Enlist the support of one or several friendly members of the executive staff who feel that Executive can S&OP be beneficial. If you don t succeed here initially, go through Steps 2, 3, and 4 and try again. 2. Take a fresh look at the data. Have you been presenting the right performance metrics? Are there elements that would be helpful to Top Management but that they haven t been reviewing? Show new cause and effect relationships. Speak Top Management s language dollars where practical. For almost all executives, the overarching element in business is financial performance. They re measured by it; they re compensated by it; their careers can literally live or die by it. Therefore, in order to establish Executive S&OP as a key tool in the top Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 6

7 management tool kit to make it indispensable to them imbed the financial view deeply into the process. 3. Update the future plans for demand, supply, inventories, and backlog and identify the big gaps in those plans: inventory off plan, driven by erratic forecast performance, production over or under plan, or both. the probability of poor order fill rates in the future, caused by inadequate supply planning. capacity problems, which of course can affect fill rates, new product launch, and so forth. Again, wherever practical, dollarize the results. 4. Identify key decisions to be made. Show alternative scenarios and their impact, to enable executives to understand the analysis behind those decisions. This is where a large amount of the value add will occur for the executive group. 5. Hold an Executive meeting. Present the data in a way most likely to engage Top Management. Focus on things that are important to them: knowing where the company stands relative to key performance metrics particularly financial ones having visibility into the big gaps going forward that would cause performance issues in the future understanding the key decisions that need to be made and the trade-offs and risks between decision alternatives Make this a decision-making meeting. Make recommendations to the executive team and ask them to make decisions. Deliver insights that they haven t seen before. Get their feedback: what did they find helpful and what was not? Schedule the next Executive meeting for a month later. 6. Hold the subsequent Executive meeting(s). Modify the displays based on the prior meeting s feedback. Here again, make recommendations and get decisions. At each meeting, ask each member of the executive team: how would you rate this meeting? What should we do differently next month? Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 7

8 In the subsequent monthly sessions, make them look more and more like an Executive S&OP meeting in format and substance. After a number of these, when you re close to an effective S&OP meeting, you may want to point out where you are with the process. 7. Institutionalize the total Executive S&OP process: demand planning, supply planning, demand/supply reconciliation, and the monthly Executive meeting with the full financial interface and simulation. 8. After 12 months of successful Executive meetings, hold a victory party. RETHINKING YOUR EXISTING TOOLS Will your ERP system, your Advanced Planning System, and Excel do the job? Do you have effective business analytics software in house? If so, that might help you to make powerful data relationships necessary during the early phases of the Executive Visibility process when getting Top Management s attention is so vital and later, when Executive S&OP is operational. Or perhaps you might consider bringing in a new S&OP software tool. This could be the case for several reasons: You don t have software capable of retrieving, analyzing, synthesizing, and displaying information easily and effectively. Many companies using S&OP labor mightily each month to prepare the information for Executive S&OP; they re forced to pull data from their ERP, APS, CRM, and legacy systems. Some call this blood, sweat, and Excel. You don t have software capable of readily showing the alignment of the operational performance and plans with the financials. This can be a serious shortcoming because, as we said, most executives live largely in a financial world; speaking their language means speaking in dollars as well as in units. You don t have software able to perform rapid and comprehensive simulations in both units and dollars to provide a robust framework for decision making. You don t have software that you can grow with. Executive S&OP is evolving into a far more powerful tool than it has been and this evolution will be enabled by highly effective S&OP software. (For more on this, please refer to our white paper: Sales & Operations Planning The Next Generation, available on or Sometimes the existence of new software can make it easier for people to see the light and to get on board. New software makes it easy to say: Well, I d have agreed to this a lot sooner if we d had this software. This is what we need to make the process work. Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 8

9 But please remember, if you consider new software, don t lose sight of the principles we articulated at the beginning of this paper, including: low cost, low risk, and positive results within 90 days. THE CORE PRINCIPLES REVISITED Hold the High Ground. Support, commitment, and hands-on participation by the president and his or her staff is essential. Think Big, Start Small. Follow a low risk approach, both in dollars and time required. Sometimes the idea of a major project, consuming large amounts of money and people s time, turns off potentially interested executives. Keep it small and keep it speedy. Deliver Rapid Value. Visible progress and demonstrated results must be forthcoming within 90 days or less of getting started and every 90 days or less thereafter. Achieve quick wins and celebrate them. Incorporate Best Practices. Keep your eyes on the prize. Beware of scope creep; drive towards a first-class Executive S&OP process. Display the right stuff the things the president and staff care about and are measured on. The Executive Visibility approach is consistent with all of the above points. It represents another tool and a potentially powerful one in the vital function acquiring executive buyin, support, leadership, and hands-on participation in Executive S&OP. Full speed ahead! ABOUT THE AUTHORS Tom Wallace has authored eleven books, including Sales & Operations Planning: The How-To Handbook, 2 nd Edition, and with Bob Stahl Building To Customer Demand, Sales & Operations Planning The Self-Audit Workbook, Sales Forecasting A New Approach, and Master Scheduling in the 21 st Century. Tom is a Distinguished Fellow at Ohio State s Center for Operational Excellence. He is currently writing, with Bob Stahl, Sales & Operations Planning The Executive s Guide, due for release later in Bob Stahl has spent the last 30 years developing, teaching and helping companies implement leading edge processes for manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain management. He is a developer, teacher, writer, and consultant with an extremely strong track record of success and has worked closely with a number of the world s leading Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 9

10 corporations. Bob is the co-author of Building To Customer Demand, Sales & Operations Planning The Self-Audit Workbook, Sales Forecasting A New Approach and Master Scheduling in the 21 st Century. Bob is currently writing two new books: Sales & Operations Planning The Executives Guide and Lean Manufacturing and Variable Demand: What You Won t Learn From Toyota. Tom and Bob can be reached at Mission Critical Getting Top Management On Board Page 10

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