I've been working on a presentation about the executive S&OP process that I'll be giving at our upcoming user conference. Working on this presentation has made me think about the many executive S&OP meetings I've observed and what factors contributed to an effective executive S&OP meeting. (And what factors contributed to S&OP failures.) Let's start with the goals of the executive S&OP meeting.Sales and operations planning is all about alignment.It's about getting the entire company pulling in the same direction. To achieve this, the executive team needs to:
- Clearly understand the current status of the company and have visibility into the issues and opportunities.
- Review alternative possible resolutions and be clear about the costs and benefits of each solution.
- Gain agreement on which plan is the best (typically the best plan is proposed by the pre-S&OP team).
- Approve and publish the plan.
It is critical that the stakeholders are present for the executive S&OP meetings. At a minimum, the following are necessary for a successful executive S&OP meeting; CEO / general manager, Marketing, Sales, Operations, Finance.Depending on the company, you may also have need Engineering and HR. Many S&OP processes fail to get off the ground because the executives stop attending the meetings. This occurs for various reasons, but one of the key reasons is that the executive feels they aren't getting value out of the process.If you are reading this post, I'm going to assume that you know the value that S&OP brings, however, this value can be lost if the meeting is poorly run.There are many tips out there that cover how to run a good meeting.Let me quickly point out a few of the key ones; 1) Have an agenda with time guidelines and stick to it. If further discussion is needed for a specific topic, book another meeting.This ensures that all topics that need to be covered are covered. 2) Book your S&OP meetings on with a regular cadence (the third Tuesday of every month for example) and do everything in your power to never move them. The further in advance you book a meeting, the more likely that everyone can attend. More capable S&OP systems enable S&OP "on-demand" this is a powerful capability but should only be used for S&OP level decisions that can't wait for the next cycle. 3) Be prepared.Have the information you know you will need...and the information you think you might need, available before you go into the meeting. You never know where the executive team will take you! 4) Use the right tool to present the S&OP plan (this one is critical). Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow where I will cover the best ways to drive your S&OP meeting.