Tips for Launching Your S&OP Project
Okay – you and your decision makers have decided to take the plunge on S&OP. You know it’s the right thing to do, it’s going to help your company, everyone can feel it. So now what? It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and make it happen. Where do you start? While organizations are different and have different needs, here’s a few quick tips that you can consider for your situation.
Assessments provide a common understanding of the current state, gap analysis, business case, and momentum for change. You’ll most likely need this for a sustainable change process. See more at the associated blog posting.
Project and Change Management
As with any change program some elements of structure are required to organize, mobilize, and execute. The exact level of this can be tailored to your individual organization, time horizon, and current state. You’ll need defined project roles, and some form of charters, milestones, project plans, communication/stakeholder engagement plans, project reporting structure, results management, etc. Project role definition and structure is the most critical and will be the subject of an upcoming post/article. If you don’t distribute the accountability for success and results, you’ll be doing it on your own, begging people to fit things into their already over-loaded schedules, hoping they want to do it.
Once the team is intact, work with key members individually to see where they’re at, get some off-the-record input, and prepare them to participate in a kick-off meeting. A well-orchestrated kick-off meeting not only conveys content, but also accountability distribution, results needed, and sense of urgency. It should have multiple speakers at different levels and involve a wide audience to communicate and educate. It’s jumping off the deep end. Some cultures and leaders don’t want to jump off the deep end publically. The stealth/passive/just do it approach may be okay for your situation, but change is change, and sooner or later you have to deal with it. The stealth approach can take longer, usually requires much more off-line coaching, and can even communicate doubt and discord at leadership levels. Once you’re kicked-off, a core team works the conceptual design. We’ll reconnect with the larger group and supporting team members later to validate, further develop, and confirm conceptual designs.
You could even hold a session to define the Vision for S&OP with a sub-group immediately following the kick-off. The Sponsor and Project Lead may have presented a preliminary one during the kick-off, but a broader team should refine and own it. I suggest a Vision that’s a set of bullet point statements to define the end state, scope, and impact/results for the business.
Plan the Work/Work the Plan
From here it’s about a good plan, execution, course correction as required, and change management. The first step is ensuring your team leads (for each of your component S&OP meetings/areas) have enough direction (i.e. plans/milestones/templates) to lead their respective areas and what they develop is integrated through the project lead/project structure.
The items above will give your project an initial push to get the momentum going. Once this is in motion, others will help build upon that through their project roles, ideas, and contributions to move into the design and implementation phases.