“Management must create a culture that encourages conflicting opinions to be aired and considered before decisions are made.” This controversial piece of advice was shared by Joe Shedlawski at the recent 37th annual SAPICS conference for supply chain professionals.
Shedlawski, a 30-year S&OP veteran and associate with America’s R.A.Stahl Company, explains that orderly conflict “allows for setting proper policy, strategy and risk assessment and performance measurements, and effective resolving of conflict.”
Effective business management is best described as a journey – one of constant improvement, aligning an organisation to create defined, repeatable processes that provides executives the confidence to drive a business nearer its goals which can usually be narrowed down to most efficiently matching supply with demand. One of these businesses processes is called Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP).
S&OP is traditionally seen as an isolated supply chain management effort driven by technology, process definition or discipline. Succeeding with an S&OP voyage is however more about successfully circumnavigating the catch-22 of the required culture change management.
The paradoxical catch: “Successful implementation of S&OP demands a high-level understanding of the required changes but failing to involve top management however diminishes the chances of success,” Shedlawski explains. “These changes include cementing the vital role top management plays in supply chain planning, the cultural changes which more often than not must be achieved, and the methods available to overcome this catch-22 situation.”
More than executive lip-service
Most new processes claim to need the support of top management, but Executive S&OP is quite different. “It needs not only support to address cultural change,” says Shedlawski, “but commitment and, more importantly, hands-on participation in true executive decision making.”
“The organisation’s leadership team should align the energy of the enterprise towards the strategy, policies, budgets, goals, and level of risk taking – all which are established and maintained through this process. Disagreements must be expressed in Executive S&OP, and must be managed to contribute to the overall health of the entire organisation.”
These open and honest opinions should be collected from all levels and functional areas of the entire business. It is important that the executive participants are encouraged to ask questions of the relevant departments to obtain solutions to the challenges faced.
“While executive leadership expects that strategies that are set in the boardroom will somehow translate into aligned tactical execution plans and schedules, so often that is not the case,” warns Shedlawski. “Management must keep things simple, making logic explicit, and focus on sustainable healthy improvement, rather than short-lived perfection.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Cathlen Fourie, 012 644 2833, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.atthatpoint.co.za
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ABOUT SAPICS – your supply chain network
SAPICS is a professional knowledge-based association that enables individuals and organisations to improve business performance. SAPICS builds operations management excellence in individuals and enterprises through superior education and training, internationally recognised certifications, comprehensive resources and a countrywide network of accomplished industry professionals. This network is ever expanding and now includes associates in other African countries.