Selecting a solution provider can be a tedious endeavor. A company has to not just recognize that a specific process is sub-optimal, but must also pinpoint the root cause of the problem. Then, the executives have to make the decision to pursue an external solution rather than build their own (or try to power through the issue). And those are just the preliminary steps.
A colleague recently shared this LinkedIn article by Jack and and Suzy Welch with me. I receive plenty of article recommendations daily, but the fact that this one included Jack Welch’s name and the catchy title “This is the Most Mind-Numbing Ritual in Business (But Doesn’t Have to Be)” convinced me to take the time to click on it. The article argues that companies should ground their annual budgeting exercise in reality and link it to true operational what-if planning that can get corporate and field team energized behind common goals. For those who have read, Jack: Straight from the Gut, this is not new territory. In the book, Jack provides a lot of detail on how he conducted GE’s annual budgeting exercise. On that note, it’s a great read for anyone wanting to transform their budgeting process.
A colleague recently forwarded me a news article about how ING’s investment in digital platforms is expected to return approximately $1 billion in annual savings by 2021. It reminded me of a Progress survey a few months back that revealed how many companies recognize the need for a digital transformation but are reluctant to take that leap. Many of those surveyed list the lack of skills and lack of leadership as key challenges to switching to a digital platform.
Blame Games Galore
About a year ago, my team and I had the opportunity to sit in on a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) meeting of Brand Managers and Key Account Managers chaired by the US divisional CFO of a multi-billion dollar Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Company. As the meeting began, the room was undoubtedly tense. A few of the brands had missed their sales plans the prior quarter. The agenda was set up to to discuss what happened and look at the outlook and plans for the upcoming quarters. Our role in the meeting was to observe, with the goal of improving the overall planning process.
Recently, I attended a steering committee meeting at one of our clients, the US division of a large consumer products company. In the preceding months, we had helped design and implement new processes and systems for this company. It was heartening to hear several sales & marketing managers across the organization cite specific examples of how their people can now make faster, smarter decisions as a team.
As market conditions become more dynamic and supply chains become more complex, the need for faster, more intelligent planning and decision-making has never been more real. Still, many global companies express anguish at the low quality of basic data, which makes it difficult to meet the basic requirements for a good planning process (like getting an accurate inventory picture).
The Hidden Drivers of Sales, Product, and Supply Chain Forecasts
There is a quote commonly attributed to Winston Churchill that we find fitting for a foray into forecasting: “Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” And the lifeblood of planning is forecasting; you cannot reliably plan unless you have insight into future market conditions. We propose three key strategies for improving the quality of planning by improving the quality of forecasting.
Markets that 21st century organizations compete in are increasingly dynamic, complex battlefields. Financial success in such battlefields hinges on developing new levels of planning, execution and continuous improvement capabilities. With this basic principle in mind, and building on lessons learnt from helping hundreds of global corporations deal with operational complexity and variability, we have formulated a unique set of process & technology innovations. We call this set of innovations the mPOWER system for Integrated Business Planning.
Data, data, data. There are about as many flavors of data as there are flavors of soda or brands of clothes. We even have a term for having copious amounts of data; “Big Data.” The word ‘data’ itself has become ubiquitous in the business environment to the extent that it has an ambiguous meaning.
In this post we’ll take away some of the ambiguity around data, and attempt to examine the impact of the ways in which we interact with, use, create, and store data, on the organization – from reporting structure to individual responsibilities.