How action ready are the people in your S&OP process?

Last week I found myself in a roomful of supply chain professionals where, as Involvation, we’d been invited to chair a discussion on ‘S&OP: achieving and maintaining S&OP effectiveness… and keeping all disciplines on board’. The key issue is how to motivate people and increase their action readiness in terms of Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) and Integrated Business Planning (IBP). The concept of ‘action readiness’ is especially tricky to define. After all, it encompasses attitudes, behaviour and culture. The crux of the matter is: at which point are people really ready to take action?

By Jeroen Scheepers

One of the interesting points that emerged from the supply chain professionals’ discussions was that because S&OP (and IBP) is all about making relevant decisions, it must also be absolutely clear who is making which decisions and where. Furthermore, they concluded, a clear framework with clearly defined S&OP-related tasks and responsibilities improves people’s action readiness because everyone then knows where they stand.

Nail on the head

During the session, one of the participants – an experienced supply chain director – hit the nail right on the head in my opinion. He suggested that it’s necessary to provide clarity on not only what is to be decided within S&OP, but above all what isn’t. Furthermore, he said, it should be made explicitly clear that the decisions made in the S&OP process must no longer be made anywhere else within the organization. Until that point is reached, there will be a lot of confusion which will detract from people’s readiness to make a real success of S&OP.

Increased action readiness

I completely agree with him. Clarity avoids confusion and prevents the decision-making process from becoming fragmented, resulting in greater S&OP (and IBP) success. But amidst all this focus on action readiness and effectiveness, we should also spare a thought for what it means for the people involved. They may be given new responsibilities, but they may also have to relinquish existing ones. Some decisions will be made within S&OP and others won’t. Not everyone will find it easy to adjust, so be prepared to provide explanations and guidance.

Jeroen Scheepers is Senior Consultant at Involvation