The topic of Integrated Business Planning (IBP), Sales & operations Planning (S&OP) and demand/supply balancing has been widely researched for nearly 40 years, yet organizations still struggle with this fundamental business capability. What about planning is so difficult?  Why is effective business planning so elusive for many firms?

So, what is a person (or firm) to do? Simply accept the status quo? Do we search for a new application, algorithm or the latest AI capability that is guaranteed to provide the solution? Or if we redesign the business process the breakthrough we need will appear. Or maybe not.

What has helped a number of organizations break the shackles of the current state is to re-frame the problem to be solved.

Re-framing is the art of evaluating a situation, developing an understanding of what needs to be achieved, and developing a new problem to solve. More simply, re-framing is asking a different question with the goal of getting a different result.

The Capability Challenge

Viewing IBP/S&OP as a business capability helps us to begin re-framing.

We define a capability to be the integration of 3 areas: People, Processes, Technology. People have always been, and will continue to be, the most critical element in any capability and it’s no different for the IBP/S&OP process.

Why are people the most critical element? Because people define the processes, the steps required, the sequence, the roles to be involved and the responsibility of each role. Beyond the process definition, people need to identify the technology needed to perform the process as efficiently as possible.

Once we identify the elements needed for a business capability to exist, we can begin re-framing activities. Re-framing helps “zoom out” from the details of IBP/S&OP so we can reconsider the complicating factors restricting our success. When we move away from discussions about the processes, metrics, roles and responsibilities, software, etc., we start to consider what is needed to progress beyond the current state.

As we evaluate the capability and focus on “People” as the critical element, the questions we ask become focused on the actions that we can take that will result in positive change. The discipline of Organizational Change Management provides ideas and tools that help us to ask the right questions.

Organizational Change Management

There are several change management frameworks to choose from, and all consulting firms tout theirs as the best. Let’s start by “zooming out” and consider the underlying issues that make Organizational Change Management necessary to implementing new capabilities.

The process of company transition occurs on an individual basis which requires us to identify all individuals involved in, or impacted by, the capability. It helps to create a transformation map to identify where each person is on the transition journey.

On our map we include how each individual perceives the change. This requires only minimal interaction with each individual to gauge how they feel about the transformation and generate a first draft. A transformation map is helpful because you’ll gain insight into the team and their overall level of enthusiasm. Understanding the current state of the team and the individuals in it is useful but action is what will realize improvements. Before action plans can be developed, we need discussion with each team member to validate their stage in the transition process.

Change management S&OP

Talk To Individuals To Identify Why They’re Resistant To Change

Discussions with individual team members help uncover underlying factors that cause them to be resistant to change. Such discussions with individual team members should not be ad-hoc; a template with specific questions should be developed before any meetings take place. This template should include questions that probe for pain-points individuals are experiencing in adopting the process. Of course, the template should cover the IBP/S&OP process itself, the tools used to perform the process, and most importantly intangible “soft” areas like responsibility, performance measures, accountability, recognition and rewards, and training (attended, offered, etc).

Check List For Change Management In S&OP/IBP

By taking a proactive approach to managing change, the success rate for adopting IBP/S&OP increases dramatically. Here’s an outline of activities and actions that I use to help implement change, it’s proven to be successful at companies like AT&T, Fiskars Brands, Motorola and others.

1 – Provide education materials and resources explaining S&OP/IBP to executive leaders

2 – Conduct executive review and discussion sessions and describe how executives are involved in the process. Ask what concerns exist and resolve concerns before moving forward.

3 – Identify the individuals that will be involved in IBP/S&OP and sort them as follows:

  • Directly involved – responsible for performing steps in the process
  • Indirectly involved – may be asked for inputs or preliminary review of outputs
  • Impacted – results of IBP/S&OP may be used in their role

4 – Provide education materials and conduct review session(s) describing how IBP/S&OP benefits the business. Ask what concerns exist and record all concerns (separate session for each group).

5 – Design and pilot IBP/S&OP with a small, focused group to ensure the process and tools deliver expected outputs.

6 – Establish an IBP/S&OP continuous improvement team to gather feedback and incorporate changes into the process .

7 – Prepare IBP/S&OP kick-off meeting.

    1. Conduct pre kick-off meeting with leaders of key functions (supply planning, demand planning etc.) ensuring alignment and agreement.

8 – Arrange and conduct an IBP/S&OP kick-off meeting with the entire team (direct, indirect and impacted team members)

9 – Conduct initial IBP/S&OP meeting.

10 – Arrange and convene a continuous improvement team, review feedback and prioritize updates.


In summary, IBP/S&OP is a critical process for every business but establishing it requires an effective Organizational Change Management process. This 10 step process ensures engagement of executive leaders, managers and staff to execute activities and make decisions. The challenges encountered in implementing IBP/S&OP are often associated with people – proactive change management reduces resistance to change and gets everybody working towards the common goal.