Supply Chain Blog

Supply Chain, Supply Chain: What’s That All About?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Aug 22, 2018

I started my career as an R&D type who helped bring new FMCG products to the market. Nobody really knew how a product made the transition from bench top and pilot plant testing to the supermarket shelves. Somebody must have been involved somewhere but this was hardly a cohesive team with job descriptions let alone aligned roles and responsibilities. Even then “somebody” was not part of the project team so with hindsight it was inevitable delays and mistakes would occur. “Somebody” was to blame every time!

Supply Chain Small resized 600Supply Chain departments started to spring up in FMCG and Pharma companies as formal organisations around ERP deployment. Recruits were taken from other departments; commercial, manufacturing, sales and even R&D! Very few had any real understanding of Supply Chain requirements and they certainly did not have any formal qualifications or training. Qualifications and training are now widely available through many organisations such as CIPM and the Supply Chain Council.

I am not sure who coined the term Supply Chain though, do you know? I have taken a few Supply Chain definitions from the internet and started with the individual word basics from an Oxford English Dictionary:

Supply noun

1. An amount of something that is available for use when needed.

2. the action of supplying something.

Chain noun

1. A row of metal rings fastened together.

2. a connected series of things e.g. a chain of events.

Seems reasonable but what about a more technical definition taken from the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)?

 “Supply Chain Management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities. Importantly, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers. In essence, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. Supply Chain Management is an integrating function with primary responsibility for linking major business functions and business processes within and across companies into a cohesive and high-performing business model. It includes all of the logistics management activities noted above, as well as manufacturing operations, and it drives coordination of processes and activities with and across marketing, sales, product design, finance and information technology.”

Wikipedia chips in with “A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer. In sophisticated supply chain systems, used products may re-enter the supply chain at any point where residual value is recyclable. Supply chains link value chains.

Who can resist asking the people at the aptly named Supplychaindefinitions.com?

“… the movement of materials as they flow from their source to the end customer. Supply Chain includes purchasing, manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, customer service, demand planning, supply planning and Supply Chain management.  It is made up of the people, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product from its supplier to customer.

Although this Supply Chain definition sounds very simple, effective management of a Supply Chain can be a real challenge.”

Investopedia.com offers up this definition which I particularly like as it highlights Supply Chain as a “crucial process”.

“The network created amongst different companies producing, handling and/or distributing a specific product. Specifically, the supply chain encompasses the steps it takes to get a good or service from the supplier to the customer. Supply chain management is a crucial process for many companies, and many companies strive to have the most optimized supply chain because it usually translates to lower costs for the company. Quite often, many people confuse the term logistics with supply chain. In general, logistics refers to the distribution process within the company whereas the supply chain includes multiple companies such as suppliers, manufacturers, and the retailers.”

Rightly, Supply Chain is now part of every serious company aiming to put a product in front of consumers whether this is FMCG, Pharma, Telecoms etc. However, is it seen as “crucial”? Even today I feel some companies still underestimate the value a “storming” Supply Chain team brings. In some companies Supply Chain does not have a discrete representative at the “top table” and if you delegate Supply Chain management to your Sales Director then you should reconsider that decision and/or pray. One way of ensuring sustainable sales uplift is NOT to report the Supply Chain community into another non-specific, non-skilled company director.
 

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Pharma, Supply Chain, Forecasting & Demand Planning

FMCG Forecasting: Ice Cream, chocolate & pregnancy

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Aug 02, 2018

You will have to bear with me for a while on this one. Do you know that on average 85% of expectant women suffer food cravings during pregnancy? Apparently, the top 5 are:

Pickles   5%  - yuk, that surprised me too.
Cheese  11% - get those calories in.
Crisps/chips 15% - much needed salt.
Chocolate 17% - feel-good food.
Ice Cream 23% - junk food craving or just indulgence as you put on weight anyway?

Satisfying these cravings over the 9 months must lead to a significant extra expense (which might actually gently prepare prospective parents for the post-natal costs that will not go away for a very long time).  This leads me to consider that there are specific windows in the calendar when opportunities for cost effective pregnancy cravings exist.

If you crave chocolate, then the best time for a pregnancy should include Christmas when you can take advantage of everyone buying you chocolates anyway plus the post-holiday BOGOF and more promotions to get rid of all the excess stock in retail. If you need a chocolate fix it does not matter if it is in the form of a stack of standard bars or if it is a box of chocolate Wayne Rooney/Shrek figurines. As long as you satisfy the chocolate fix then all is very well with the world.

If you are really clever with your timing you might be able to stock up with discounted chocolate products in January that last you until Easter. Then, everyone aware of your craving can buy you chocolate again and then you can gorge on endless stocks of 2 for 1 bunnies.

ice-cream-demand-planningLike the majority of women in this survey my wife craved ice cream. This would have easily manageable had we been in UK but were located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Even in the cooler months getting ice cream from a shop to the home freezer required an ice box. Without some sort of chilling system anything you bought would quickly revert to sugar, fat and water. To avoid emergencies, we had to overstock at home but ease of availability meant this rapidly diminished and led to numerous middle of the night dashes to find more ice cream.

So, if your must-have food is ice cream when is the best time to be pregnant and not break the home budget? If you are in the northern hemisphere then September/October is the ideal time to have an uncontrollable ice cream craving. Take a look at your local supermarket and you will see that the most promoted/discounted products are ice creams. BOGOF is common and as the time passes you will eventually see buy 1 get 4 free or more until the stock is finally exhausted, the product expires or the store wants the retail space returned.

I know it is very difficult to forecast demand for ice cream. Global weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable and even a few short weeks of a gloomy summer can ruin producers’ sales campaigns. Producers do have very sophisticated tools that monitor the weather, providing indexes and algorithms to understand likely demand but nothing can be 100% perfect.

Weather sensitive businesses must be expending considerable resources on trying to get more reliable demand signals as the annual write-off costs continue to hit results. These financial loses will probably rise as our climate becomes even less predictable.

Good news for expectant mothers but bad news for shareholders, CEO’s and CFO’s everywhere.

Ice Cream Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, Inventory Management & Stock Control

FMCG Mergers & Acquisitions - Why acquired brands fail to deliver

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 18, 2018

Let me get straight to the point on this one. Why do so many FMCG mergers or acquisitions frequently result in the apparent death-knell of once proud and promising brands? I am not going to name any names but if you think about it there have been some real clangers dropped by blue-chip FMCG giants.

Purchased companies or individual brands are usually already reasonably successful in order to attract new owners. Yes, sometimes companies will divest weaker brands or brands no longer core to their portfolios but you will struggle to sell a clearly decaying brand name. A real hospital pass if ever there was a branded one.

I am studying such a case in Europe at the moment where the FMCG brand acquisition is about 12 months old so plenty of time for smooth integration or so you would think. Marketing activity has not changed and I am also assured above and below the line advertising spend has been maintained at pre-acquisition levels. That in itself is unusual as sellers usually spend big to make a brand more attractive at sale time.

So why does an apparently attractive acquisition fail so quickly? Nothing at all to do with marketing or finance but everything to do with the extended Supply Chain. Just to be clear here I do not consider the Supply Chain to end at the distributor’s warehouse in Traditional Trade markets you commonly find in CEE, Africa and the Middle East. You need Supply Chain skills to get products on to shop shelves and then keep them replenished. With due respect to salesman and women, they are trained to sell.

Supply chain rtm m&a resized 600The newly acquired brand that was purchased with buoyant sales and a high profile has been dragged down to the level of the existing brands by inadequate Supply Chain and Route To Market (RTM) operations. Frankly, it did not stand a chance and it is no wonder the company wanted to buy a top selling brand when their own were performing so badly. However, the reasons for failure were all in-house as the once top selling brand plunged the depths.

There was no formal Supply Chain department with planning, logistics and customer service roles scattered around in Finance and Sales departments. There was no focus and no single person to co-ordinate and run a functioning Supply Chain. Forecasting accuracy; what’s that? Stock cover; no idea. S&OP; forget it Customer service; no!

Couple that level of disorganisation with a bonus-centric, forecast averse sales force trying to run the distribution chain through to the TT shop shelf and it is no wonder all the presentation arrows were red and pointing south.

When considering an acquisition to bolster sales and profit make sure your existing SKUs are not already blighted by lack of care an attention to your Supply Chain and RTM.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Route to Market, Mergers & Acquisitions, Dave Jordan, CEO, Traditional Trade, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Distribution

FMCG ERP and The Beatles.......? Spreadsheets cause damage.

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 04, 2018

Some time ago I wrote about the way spreadsheets were undermining expensively assembled ERP’s in FMCG, Brewing and Pharmaceutical companies. They still are, by the way.

Not too long ago a paper on Public Debt and Austerity published by 2 eminent Harvard Professors was found to contain errors in the Excel coding. Several significant countries were excluded from the data analysis and therefore the conclusions could not be accurate.

The glitch was spotted by a student who like everyone else, believed he and not the professors must be wrong. If you can make mistakes at this level then think what may be happening in your demand planning office. A decimal point in the wrong place or a misplaced cell could lead to market place challenges in stock availability or indeed, excess.Beatles_ERP_Spreadsheets

The bug in that Public Debt spreadsheet leads me to the Beatles – what a segue! Here is what Lennon & McCartney might have written about spreadsheets and ERPs.

Yesterday, an IT man took my Excel away
Now I have to plan a different way

How I wish it was yesterday

Certainly, I’m not as comfortable as I used to be
There's a new ERP in front of me.
How yesterday came shockingly

Why Excel had to go I don't know, IT wouldn’t say
Did I plan something wrong? How I long for the Excel way.

Yesterday, spreadsheet planning was the only way
Now I need to learn a different way
I need to believe in our ERP

Why Excel had to go I don't know, IT wouldn’t say
Did I plan something wrong? How I long for the Excel way.

Yesterday, poor planning was the only way
Error riddled spreadsheets everyday
Now I don’t believe in yesterday
Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm

You can catch up with the classic Beatles track by clicking here.

If you do not run an ERP that relegates spreadsheets to useful and reliable supporting tools then you are risking poor planning in your business.  If you are running an ERP you might check exactly where the data comes from, where critical calculations are really made and how secure is the information.

Image courtesy of artur84 at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEO, Pharma, ERP/SAP, Supply Chain, Forecasting & Demand Planning, ERP

FMCG S&OP: Who is the stooge in your process?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jul 02, 2018

Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, Abbott and Costello, Little and Large, Hale and Pace, May and Johnson. These are examples of double acts where one party plays the straight/stooge and apparently serious man while the other plays the fool/jester. I admit I am not too sure who is who in the last example.

Having suffered 2 weeks of UK television recently it was difficult not to see the latest popular double act of Ant and Dec popping up at frequent intervals (mostly Dec in the medium term though!). My jury is out on these two as they appear to be part of a UK TV talent vacuum glibly presided over by a man who looks like a dark-haired Max Headroom – youngsters, Google it. I always thought Simon Cowell was that nice bloke who rescues badgers from drains in Surrey but there are 2 of them!

S&OP Success Through TeamworkAnyway, the point is that these performers work through their contrast in styles and the way each party plays off the other to score points and generate laughs. For some reason the first name in the act title is usually the funny or less serious partner who generates the gags and generally puts down the straight partner. This notation is also consistent with Sales & Operational Planning with OP being the collective remainder of your FMCG, Brewing or Pharma business.

Why do so few Sales people – at any level of seniority – get S&OP? In fact do any Sales people really get S&OP and recognise the process as one for common good in a company? If only there was a way of replacing sales bonuses with cross-discipline, volume/value bonuses. While the straight man of the team endeavours to supply on time in full against the forecast the joker waits until the last few days of the month to sell anything including his granny to make the required number and secure a bonus. And thus, the monthly cycle repeats again, and again, and again.

If you pump too much unwanted inventory (done pretend its sales) into the market sooner or later you will need to destock your distributors and/or International Key Accounts (IKA). Distributors have always been ripe for a bit of extra loading here and there to manipulate the sales figures but do not fool yourself this does not happen with IKA. It does and with the modern power of IKA accounts you might find yourself with a very unwelcome stock return and a difficult to refuse request for compensation and refund.

Frequently, when things go wrong in the market place the Sales people will chirp up with something like “that’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into” as a prelude to their Teflon blame-storming. S&OP requires a team effort to succeed as a process which will lead to better performance in the market place. No planning or forecasting process is ever perfect but a little more diligence and team playing from the funny man would bring immediate and lasting results.

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, Humour, Supply Chain, CEE, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, FMCG

FMCG New Product Development (NPD) is a key part of S&OP

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 25, 2018

There is enough disruption and discontinuity in supply chains without the necessary evil or pleasure of new product development (NPD) and product change getting in the way.

Just when everyone has become used to ordering, storing, picking, delivering or merchandising that pretty blue bottle with the picture of a carrot on the adhesive label, someone decides it is a good idea to relaunch the brand/SKU or replace the label with a shiny shrink-wrap label featuring a spud. The vegetables of choice are irrelevant as I just did not want to highlight any particular sector but no doubt the farmers will be up in muddy arms.

If your business operates a classic innovation funnel then well done to you. However, if you do not run one at all or you do and it is not linked to S&OP then you run the risk of:

  1. Out of Stock (OOS) and real lost sales
  2. Poor Customer Service.
  3. Overstocked inventory
  4. Write off and destruction costs
  5. Losing your job.......

The funnel is not rocket science although the people at the Brand Gym reckon an “innovation rocket” is far more effective for growth. The funnel can be depicted in many ways but all are very simple, e.g.

Integrate NPD with S&OP

At each decision gate the relevant NPD leader must feed information into the S&OP process to avoid the 5 pitfalls listed above. Existing stocks can be run down in a controlled manner and new stocks ramped up to ensure continuity and more importantly, correspond to any breaking TV or other advertising campaign. Is there a bigger waste of marketing budget than appearing on TV when the product is not yet ready for consumers to buy?

Inevitably there may be write off when you relaunch or make a product change but as long as you co-ordinate within your S&OP process these amounts can be minimal and manageable. What the CEO does not want is an unexpected cash loss from write off appearing in the results unexpectedly. Marketing might well claim a successful launch but the profitability could be shot to bits and actually be negative once obsolescence costs are allocated.

Depending on your accounting convention the cost of write off will end up in “supply support” or “supply chain others” when in fact the funds should be deducted from the fat marketing budget. If marketing people do not manage the innovation or change process closely then they should feel some of the pain. Far too often they crack open the celebratory bubbly while causing problems in other departments and for the company in general.

Change is inevitable and supply chains have to continually manage change as it will not and should not go away. However, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change if marketing fully bought into S&OP?

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEO, Performance Improvement, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, FMCG

Supply Chain: Goats, Kennedy Brexit & Analytics

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Jun 21, 2018

Over the years I have seen many strange sights on various forms of transport. In the Middle East I sat next to a vicious looking falcon on a flight to Bahrain. The falcon was extremely well behaved but then again so was I! In Africa a guy jumped on a tuk-tuk carrying a pig that had ceased to be.

Only last week in Bucuresti a lady brought a goat onto the underground. I guess it could have been a service goat or something similar as guide dogs are still a rarity in Romania. In fact, a guide goat could have some advantages over a dog as it is has its own built-in horn……Also, I wonder if she had to pay to take the goat on board and if so, was it half price for kids?

Whenever you see something dramatic, unusual or out of context you tend to remember that incident or time. People older than myself remember where they where when Kennedy was assassinated. In more recent history I know where I was when Princess Diana died. Only a couple of years ago I remember exactly where I was when I heard the UK had voted to leave the EU. Despite living in an EU country, I and many others where not allowed to vote.

Nobody knew at that time what would happen if UK left the EU – what a basis for a referendum - and that is still the case today although at least the exit remains certain. What will happen to customs tariffs, will UK citizens require visas to reach the sun, will the EU allow right hand drive cars on their road networks? Still nobody knows, and I don’t think anyone will until long after exit happens. However, I will predict a united Ireland, a devolved Scotland (less possibly Wales) and little England in an old tweed suit towing a ferret going cap in hand to join the EU!

Politics and Supply Chain are not common text fellows but in terms of predicting the future they have the same challenges. Hopefully, you make the best decision you can based on the information available and yet you know there is a high probability of getting the outcome completely wrong. If you want to reduce that probability of failure, then you need something over and above your standard ERP IT software.

In the last 10 years, despite investments in sophisticated ERP systems, there are still significant opportunities to improve supply chain performance. Why?

  • Often complex IT packages automate traditional ways of working which results in little improvement or, things are made worse with increased stress in the planning process.
  • The forecast is often blamed – it will never be 100% correct. The issue lies within the supply chain processes, the set-up of the IT and how existing tools are being used.
  • Managing this complexity becomes the real challenge, and to protect themselves, supply chain managers buffer supply chains with cautionary inventory and fat lead-times.

Analytics_supply_chain_forecast_planning

Business planning that puts backside protection as a key priority is destined to failure. Supply Chain Analytics changes the game to make success far more likely and when you take the analytics plunge, you will remember where you where!

Image courtesy of Concentra at Concentra.co.uk

Tags: Supply Chain Analytics, Dave Jordan, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Supply Chain

FMCG Supply Chain dates to remember: Advanced Planning

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 31, 2018

February is here but blink and you will miss it as it is not a leap year. You cannot change January performance and February should be quite firm by now, so you need to be looking further ahead in your S&OP. Much further ahead.

What is coming soon in the wonderful world of FMCG and others?

Valentine’s Day 14th February. Yes, I know it is cheesy, but it is a prime time for chocolates and greetings cards and if your stock is not in place already, don’t bother. I can still see discounted Christmas chocolate on the shelves and I am sure the same will be true after the big red heart day.

Spring. An important period particularly in eastern Europe where a thorough house cleaning is the order of the day. Surfaces and fabrics are thoroughly cleaned and presents an opportunity for homecare producers to get an early boost in sales.

Easter April 1st. A huge confectionery event and fairy early in the year so you get to nibble nice, crisp chocolate rather than warmish stuff – ugh! Take care though because as mentioned above, you will probably be discounting your stock for several weeks after the event. Perfect for chocolate lovers but not great for retailers, your profit or core SKU brand planning.

Orthodox Easter 8th April. Usually a more religious and less chocolatey event but increasingly becoming like the earlier Easter. The dates are very close to each other this year, so this should not cause any significant planning and distribution challenges for global and regional producers. If you are slick enough you could transfer any obvious excess from the April 1st event into Orthodox markets, labelling permitted of course.

Eid al-Fitr. Mid-June. The holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. A huge, huge surge in the demand for food and drink across several work-free days. If food and drink producers in Middle East and North Africa get their planning wrong during Ramadan and the following Eid, then the annual results are immediately in danger.

FMCG_PLANNING_ADVANCED_S&OP_DAVE_JORDAN.jpgSummer. While some events are fixed and in the diary years in advance, the appearance of the sun in the northern hemisphere remains unpredictable. This is an annual nightmare for drinks and ice cream producers as despite all the algorithms and predictive tools demand is difficult to guage, in Europe at least. In the hotter months the key aim must be for your key SKUs to be available 100% of the time. This may lead to future write-offs but if the sun pops out and your products don’t…….. 

Eid al-Adha late August. Another Islamic celebration which is perhaps not as grand as Ramadan Eid but as it is in August this year you can be sure chilled liquids will be in high demand. Unike in Europe, the sun is not shy in shining brightly in the ME and NA regions.

Back to school September. Paper, pens, pencils and Peppa Pig lunch boxes will fly off the shelves in preparation for the new school year. Look at the major retailers and you will see a very wide choice and surely not everything is sold. In fact, I remember seeing a huge stock of Bob the Builder merchandise on sale in rural markets in Uganda one Christmas. You have to get rid of it somewhere!

Thanksgiving 22nd November. A mainly North American food fest but with similar celebrations in Netherlands, surprisingly. Large family feasts and open-house entertaining ensure a peak for foods and drink manufacturers.

Christmas. Not much to say here except sales of everything in FMCG-land and many others reach a crescendo of demand as December progresses.

There are many other important peak seasons which may be global, continent-wide, regional or very local but all of them must be considered in your forward planning. If you don’t get it right someone else will push their products in front of consumer's faces.

If you want to be successful, then all these events and more should already be in your 2019 planning process. No typo there, yes 2019! Rather like driving a car on a long motorway, the further you are able to look ahead the easier it is to deal with unexpected hazards.

Image courtesy of Supertrooper at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, S&OP, Dave Jordan

Your FMCG Supply Chain: The end of January is nigh!

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 24, 2018

Where has that first post-holiday month gone? Suddenly it’s the 24th of January and there are only 7 calendar days and 5 working days until you close the month. Adopt panic stations despite what Corporal Jones of Dad’s Army would say.

Are you ahead of the required run rate or are you suffering the usual FMCG malaise of looking to push stock into the trade in the last few days? After all, nobody at HQ likes missing the first period target of the year, do they? I’d guess you have about 60% of your turnover complete which leaves you with 40% to plan, make, deliver and most importantly, invoice in those last 5 business days.

The chaos this causes to supply chains is rarely fully understood in other disciplines. This is what month end loading does and this list is not exclusive. Selling stock that is not actually required in the market only because you need to generate turnover and profit…….

  1. Blocks up warehouses AND wallets for the next period.
  2. Overloads capacity in warehouses as high levels of stock try to get in and out at the same time and often through the same doors.
  3. Raises costs as transport availability is stretched and prices are at a premium. (You know who is loading the trade when the truck queue snakes around the warehouse late into the evening!)
  4. Distorts demand signals for sold SKUs not in the plan.
  5. Creates huge pressure and long hours for the supply chain team and 3PLPs.
  6. Disrupts promotional planning due to stock not being available for co-packing.
  7. Causes inevitable errors in picking, packing and invoicing due to excess volume against a ticking clock.

….and then a very, very quiet first week of the succeeding month.

Nobody expects you to achieve 4-6% of monthly sales on each working day; life is not like that. Everyone along the supply chain including customers and consumers have cash flow and space constraints as well as competitive pressures but over loading the last week of the month must stop. Blindly loading stock to meet numbers is an unsustainable practise and against corporate codes of business principles. Add this to the disruptive chaos caused and there is no doubt it is negatively impacting your long-term business aspirations.

FMCG_S&OP_SALES_LOADING_TRADE.jpgIf trade loading is a problem, then you just have to bite the bullet and take a hit in the month and why not in January to continue the rest of the year as you mean to go on? Of course, you will not win the corporate monthly sales award but stopping the routine of heavy loading in the last week of the month will put you on a far more secure and reliable footing both in terms of market performance and reputation.

You need to take steps to erradicte this behaviour but your pain can be minimised by…..

  1. Running a genuine S&OP process, which is visibly led from the top team.
  2. Encouraging staff to pass actionable information throughout the business and avoid data bombing the next functional silo. Stop trying to prove others wrong; prove them right!
  3. Being brutally honest as it’s always the best policy. It’s business, not personal.

We are in the final week of the month, what lengths will you go to in order to reach the monthly target? Think very, very carefully.

Image courtesy of vectorolie at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Sales, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Inventory Management & Stock Control, S&OP, Dave Jordan

FMCG Supply Chain: What is your 2018 Planning Priority?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jan 17, 2018

We already find ourselves at 17th January so not many days left to ensure your monthly top and bottom lines are on target. Good luck with that if your business (& body!) is only just shaking off the holiday excesses. What is top of mind? The sagging month to date sales rate? The slow return to normal of the S&OP meeting schedule? The upcoming corporate audit? No. Top of mind is where to go on your summer holidays and to get this booked as soon as possible.

Get your holiday slot booked at the office and make sure you sync with school holidays and soon you will be surfing the internet checking out all the best deals. Flight only or hotel included? What about airport transfers? Do we go with full service airlines or suffer the middle of the night, cattle-class treatment on a low-cost flyer? Long term car parking at the airport? Oh, look at the kids go free offers – no I don’t believe it either; nobody gets a holiday for free, well except possibly Mrs Queen and free-loading MPs.

You may even create a dreaded Excel spreadsheet listing potential destinations and a matrix of all the travel options and applicable costs. Carefully you will fine tune the list until you really have found the best deal with the most convenient and least expensive travel. After the briefest of discussions with the rest of the family the bookings will be done and dusted well before the end of January. What a personal masterclass in forward planning!

FMCG_ACTIVITY_PLANNING_SALES_WINE.jpgYet you still have no idea on your FMCG acivity plans for the next 6 months let alone a much longer horizon. If you left your holiday plans to the last minute you would probably struggle to find something decent. Yes, if you are single or a couple minus mini debt creators then you can just turn up at the airport and see what seats are available and take it from there. You may well be sleeping on a beach or in a hostel where there are more joints than an orthopaedic ward and the only pillows are inflated wine box bladders but so what, you will cope. However, with small people in tow that last minute gambling option will rarely be entirely appropriate.

Back to your activity planning or lack of it. Some of your major in-market initiatives will be annual events around Spring Cleaning or Easter or a seasonal weather peak so being late with those is unforgiveable as they should be fixtures in your rolling plan. Other promotions will be tactical or at short notice due to market dynamics such as competitor activity or price increases (prices rarely drop do they?). Nevertheless, most of your activity planning for the next 12 months should be firm with a further 12 months of tentative plans which firm up as the S&OP process passes through each month.

Short notice opportunities are ok if you can manage the same without affecting those that have been carefully planned. Marketeers may demand a special promotion to take account of some topical and usually scandalous news or about the latest air-head to emerge from the Big Brother house. If you can, so be it but let these impact on the ones that really matter at your peril. Topical opportunistic activities will probably be sexy and raise a guffaw, but seldom do they contribute much to your top and bottom lines and they don’t impress the suits at HQ.

People outside of supply chain somehow think that promotions and special offers magically appear outside of all the usual planning processes. They don’t. If you stick in a last-minute giggle promotion, then be very sure you are disrupting regular day to day activities about which you will no doubt complain.

You should try inflated wine box bladders; great for camping!

Image courtesy of recyclethis.co.uk

Tags: FMCG, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, promotions, S&OP