Businesses go through change frequently and as we all know, change is difficult because we are human. Change and transformation are necessary for companies to adapt and improve, but in order for change to be effective, many factors need to be addressed simultaneously. Take demand planning and forecasting for example. If you work for a global company, you should know how difficult it can be to get the many key areas of the organization to agree on some of the basic Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) principles of demand planning. The frameworks that companies have used over the past 5 years are clear and concise, yet their interpretation still remains somewhat subjective.
Try to have a conversation on the concept of forecast accuracy with some of your global peers. So many variables can go into this calculation that finding common ground may be a challenge. Heinz started a journey of transformation a few years back that aimed at standardizing these concepts and forecast accuracy was one of the main topics that we tackled. Parameters like lags, distribution points, locations, items, freeze periods and many others made these conversations extremely complex even though the principles are relatively simple.
It has taken significant focus and hard work to understand the requirements of the different businesses around the world, but the outcome has been very positive. The “decoder key” that has allowed companies to speak a common language and finally find a way to use internal benchmarks is something unique to each organization. This is regardless of the fact that the concepts are common & widely used globally. It is no wonder that integration experts and vendors have such a profitable niche and have identified ways to help companies progress along their evolutionary curve.
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on how you handle the disconnect on forecasting practices that are considered standard across your global company? Of course, I will be presenting at the IBF’s Conference in Orlando at the end February 2011 and look forward to seeing you there.
Associate Director of Planning
Heinz North America
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