In a sales and operations planning meeting, you’ll typically have participants from diverse groups.
By design, of course.
But that also increases the likelihood of extended discussions.
Discussions you’ve had before.
Discussions you have every meeting.
We’ve seen a few reasons for this:
- Participants don’t have deep understanding of other functions. That’s expected.
- Participants keep on changing. You’ll typically have participants attending for the first time.
- Participants want to ensure their unique concerns are addressed. (And they’re always unique, right?)
First solution is to keep the participants consistent and informed about the supply chain. But that’s not always possible.
So here are a pair of effective tools:
Establish Master Data
Master data can take the form of:
- safety stock requirements
- cycle time commitments
- forecast frozen periods
Essentially, the more variables in your supply chain that you can establish up front, the better. This way, you can fast forward to details that truly need further discussion.
Does this mean that those variables never change? Of course not.
However, they don’t have to change every meeting. Set a cycle to refresh them. Once every 6-12 months tends to work well. But adjust to your supply chain.
Establish Guiding Principles
You can’t plan for every event. That’s obvious. (If everything were predictable, then we wouldn’t have a job.) But you can set higher level rules to help you make these case-to-case decisions.
- For a life saving product, you might say that zero stock outs takes precedence over inventory reduction.
- Conversely, for a commodity or low value product, you might say no expedited shipments.
Will They Eliminate Discussions?
No. And that’s not the goal. The intent is to get to the meat of the discussion sooner. And discuss only the elements that are unique to the situation.
Issues that tend to always come up, you discuss once in the beginning and never again. At least not until the next refresh cycle.
It’s more efficient and will typically lead to better action.