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Route to Market & Supply Chain Blog

Harness the Best in FMCG Distributor Execution - Part 2 Joint Action Plans

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Nov 19, 2021

Over the last few months, I have shared the proven and successful Enchange approach, to find and develop FMCG Distributor Partners (DPs). We call this the Distributor Partner (DP) Development Programme. It is broken into 8 Modules.

In my last post, I shared the first part of Module 8 – Execution JBP & JAP – focusing on the Joint Business Plan (JBP). Now I will share the last element of the Programme, Module 8 Part 2 – focusing on the Joint Action Plan (JAP)

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How Does the JBP and the JAP Come Together?

The final Module of the DP Development Programme is anchored by two crucial plans, a Joint Business Plan (JBP) and a Joint Action Plan (JAP). A JBP should be strategic in nature focusing on long term goals, and a JAP should be operational in nature focusing on how to achieve those long-term goals

These plans must be easy to understand, be regularly reviewed with the DP and the Producer, with both parties jointly and openly committing to their delivery.

At this point, as we covered the JBP in the last article, we should now have an agreed Joint Business Plan, a JBP focusing on long term goals. Now it is over to the Operational Management Team of both parties to develop the JAP, which should be operational in nature focusing on how to deliver the long-term goals of the JBP. 

What is a Joint Action Plan (JAP)?

A Joint Action Plan (JAP) is a shared operational document that details the cycle of activities needed to deliver the elements agreed in the JBP between the Producer and the DP. It is short term focused and should detail the specific monthly actions and activities that must take place, including what each party needs to do to execute the plan. 

Like the more strategic JBP, the JAP must also bring clarity for both parties. It must remove any ambiguity and make sure the key operational individuals across both organisations understand the detail of which party does what, when, where, how and why. The JAP must map out the specific actions that take place to deliver the strategic JBP targets.

To build a JAP, we must first understand the characteristics involved.

What are the Characteristics of a JAP?

  1. OUTLOOK: The JAP is Operational in nature focused on short term actions.
  2. TIMELINE: It is usually a rolling 12 monthly cycle plan, taking account of the TTC period with a particular focus on the next three months of the plan.
  3. MANAGEMENT LEVEL: The JAP is developed and managed at the Operational Management level.
  4. REVIEWS: Preplanned, diarised monthly review meetings, with shared minutes and actions.
  5. ROLES: The JAP will clearly define the roles of individuals responsible in both organisations for all business activities. For example, these include demand planning, order capture and fulfilment, demand creation, advertising and promotion, credit management, RtM execution and activation, etc.
  6. TARGETS: The JAP should set out and break down by month (by territory, channel, geo, segment, etc) the specific detailed targets that will deliver the Key Targets agreed in the JBP.  For example, these may include territory volume, brand distribution, listings, Point of Sale Material (POSM) placement, merchandising, planograms, promotions, pricing, out of stock rate, availability, etc
  7. INVESTMENTS: Details of the amounts and timing of investment and supporting business cases within the JAP timeframe should be included. A monthly breakdown of the incentive targets to be achieved should also be detailed.
  8. DEFINED AREAS: The JAP sets out how the entire market is mapped, which overall areas the DP covers and how each of the areas/territories are covered, who specifically covers them, and details the service model to ensure clarity on who covers specific channels, key accounts, etc.
  9. DATA: The JAP provides the operational rules, protocols, processes, requirements and methods of data collation, exchange, data security, including the overall process for management of data.
  10. SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENTS (SLA’s): The JAP must define the areas and the agreed expectations that come under the SLA, e.g., order fulfilment, data exchange, inventory, payment terms, reporting, etc,
  11. CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT: The JAP will translate the philosophy into the areas of measurable collaborative improvement, for example, Training for DP staff in planning, logistics, finance, sales execution, or focusing on SLA areas and targeting improvements jointly with specific plans reviewed monthly, etc.  

The JBP and JAP represent the gold standard of RtM execution. These are the standards that we should aim for as RtM practitioners. However, we don’t always live in a gold standard world. Having worked in Asia, Africa, the US, Eastern Europe and across Western Europe, I can say that no two distributors are the same. 

However, having brought dozens of DPs and clients through the Distributor Partner (DP) Development Programme, no matter what base they have started from, no matter where they are in the world, there is always an improvement in sales, execution, relationship, etc., that can be achieved. That improvement is nearly always significant. Regardless, it is always worth doing and normally pays back tenfold. 

If you believe that this programme or this module is too detailed or covers too many areas, remember this, for RtM Excellence, it is better to be 80% improved than 100% I just didn’t try.

What should you do now?

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Traditional Trade, Sales, Distribution, RTM, Ross Marie, RtM Strategy, 20 Steps to RtM Excellence

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