Increase the effectiveness of the executive S&OP meeting – Part 1

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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.


Andrés Jans
- September 03, 2011 at 5:40pm
Hello John, I am from Argentina and although my english is good, since I don´t want to make my writting too formal, I am taking the risk of at some point sound not as polite or correct as I want to. I mention this because my intention is to make my comments while trying to build on your post and in no way am I trying to teach anything or stand as a wise guy.
I am an industrial engineer with 20+ years experience in Supply Chain & Business Planning Processes.
Having mentioned that here are my comments:

On the executive attendance issue my POV is that if one can´t even make the guys show up, one hasn´t implemented the process yet and has not addressed the main and simple issue that makes S&OP even exist: it is simply doing what has to be done, from a “common sense “ point of view , to run the business: View forward, plan, think, discuss, agree in order to ALIGN as you point out in your post. And the most interested people in achieving this should be the executive board.
Probably this is all so simple and obvious that it has been run over by the urgencies at some point of time and as crazy as it sounds one gets to the stage in which NOBODY has time in his agenda to attend the central process: the company PLAN. So you must implement S&OP...does it sound something like back to the basics?

Regarding the cadence and agenda of the meeting, in my experience, the fixed day format is Key. On the agenda I could add that since this is one of THE company meetigs the agenda must not be to tight on time and allow enough space to assure for that extra discussion that probably will show up in several ocassions. So something like blocking the whole morning of last thursday of each month, worked in the cases I have experienced. If there are not too many issues the meeting will be short, but everybody is available for the longer meeting if needed.

On the information need for the meeting, having the pre S&OP team to present the proposed plan and alternatives makes them available in the room with all the support and backup information needed. The tool used was a powerpoint presentation in a typical Template format with the big picture and the issues & assumptions pointed out. All this with prepared links to the detail that could be needed or the same in separate presentations that each member in charge could quickly put on the screen.

Although having the pre S&OP team in the room might be seen as a risk of crowding the meeting in my experience it is the best way of having on line information for the executives to decide.
There is a need of well balanced management of time and number of participants in order to optimize the output.
Hope some of this is useful.

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