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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

FMCG S&OP : Stopping or even pausing the process makes no sense!

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Feb 12, 2014

I’m not sure if it is the way people were taught to drive or the driving conditions in certain countries but some drivers do have a funny technique, in my humble opinion. I do not claim to be an expert driver and frankly after driving in Saudi Arabia and then Romania on the wrong side of the road for 21 years I am far from the best judge of driving competence.

You are in traffic which is moving at a constant speed which usually demands a constant pressure on the accelerator or gas – really, why gas?  - pedal to keep moving along. (NB Gas = “The state of matter distinguished from the solid and liquid states by relatively low density and viscosity” – enough said). However, this certain style of driving involves constantly taking the foot off and then putting it on the accelerator again and again and again. You start rhythmically rocking backwards and forwards against the tension of the seat belt, soon realising what it feels like to be a pair of furry dice.

That cannot be doing much good for the engine or the shoe heels.

I do not have a decent segue here but bear with me as all will become clear shortly. Domestic central heating. 

Winter has finally arrived in Bucharest and along with much snow the temperatures have been negative double digit, i.e. a little bit chilly. Consequently, the gas – not a liquid – has been burning in abundance to keep the house nice and toasty. There are two schools of thought on this one. Do you leave you heating on all day with the boiler switching itself on/off as the thermostat setting is reached or do switch the heating off when you are out of the house?

Contrary to the stop-start driving technique I actually favour the on-all-day approach particularly if the house is well insulated. Otherwise, when you come in from work in a very cold climate you have to crank up the boiler and burn, burn, burn for some time until you can face taking your coat off. The boiler relaxes all day before being placed under stress and strain in an instant.

S&OP CEO FMCG Process pauseThis leads me to my astonishing moment of the week. An FMCG company took the bold step to implement a rigorous Sales & Operational Planning (S&OP) process in a business going nowhere fast. After a few months of implementation pressure and pain they finally saw the light and the world changed. Suddenly, Trigger (RIP Roger) was calling Dave, Rodney. Baldrick actually did have a viable cunning plan and herds of wildebeest were seen sweeping majestically across Torquay beach.

Imagine my surprise when I make a compliance visit this week and the CEO tells me, “We are not doing S&OP this month, time for a break”! My jaw dropped. My coffee cup rattled and my brain was busy sending syntax errors back and forth. Why would you make this decision? When S&OP has made such a visible, massive change in your business efficiency why would you take your foot off the, ok I’ll say it once, gas pedal? Why break the momentum built up over many months? Why would you allow indiscipline to even raise its ugly head after achieving so much?

Did you hear about the rugby prop forward who suddenly decided not to push in the scrum?

Did you see Usian Bolt storm out of the blocks only to stop for a look around after 50m? (Before you shout, yes he would probably win anyway.)

This company may well remain in the top three in the sector but I am absolutely sure the number 1 position will remain a dream.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEO, Supply Chain, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales

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